The Discovery Tour is an excellent short visit to Jewel Cave. For the current tour schedule go to Operating Hours and Seasons. Advance reservations are available on recreation.gov and are highly recommended. Availability of walk-up tickets is not guaranteed. The booking window closes at noon the day before, and can potentially close earlier if the tour sells out.
This 20-minute ranger tour is a brief introduction to Jewel Cave's natural and cultural histories. Participants view one large room of the cave, the "Target Room." This cave experience enters and exits the cave by elevator in the Visitor Center. Visitors traverse a concrete surface and walk down 15 stair steps to a large aluminum platform with a metal surface. For people who have difficulty negotiating stairs or require wheelchair accessibility, this cave tour can be experienced from the upper concrete platform crossing 37 feet.
During the Discovery Tour, you will see two types of calcite crystals commonly named nailhead spar and dogtooth spar, which are the "jewels" of Jewel Cave. You will also see manganese and paleofill, which are not cave formations, but are important to the geology of Jewel Cave. Visitors will learn the theory on how Jewel Cave formed as well as how the cave began being explored in 1900.
Children of all ages are allowed on the Discovery Tour. Families are encouraged to check the tour schedule before arriving to Jewel Cave. We encourage visitors with small children to maintain physical control.
Preparing for a Discovery Tour
Last updated: September 21, 2023