Fees & Passes

A caver wearing a helmet and headlamp squeezes through a tight cave passage.
The Wild Caving Tour is one of the most adventurous public tours within the entire National Park Service. One location along the route, called the Brain Drain, forces participants to squeeze through a tight opening.

NPS Photo / Dan Fairchild

Fees are only charged for cave tours, and tickets are required to enter the cave. Due to limited space on each cave tour, advanced ticket reservations are highly recommended. In collaboration with Black Hills Central Reservations, Jewel Cave National Monument offers advanced ticket sales for a limited number of cave tours. Advanced sales are only available for the Scenic Tour and are offered for the scheduled times on the hour, such as 10 a.m., 11 a.m., etc. Please be advised that tour times change throughout the year due to visitation and available staffing.

Visitors can purchase Scenic Tour tickets 72 hours ahead of their expected arrival date and up to 90 days in advance using an online service, Black Hills Vacations or through a call center at (844) 245-6179. Ticket prices are the same for reservations or first come first serve tickets purchased on-site. However, all financial transactions with reservations are administered by Black Hills Vacations.

Tickets are also sold on-site on a first come first serve basis on the day of the tour. Tickets are limited by tour type, and tours often sell out by mid to late morning during the summer season (May through September). During the peak season or a holiday weekend, it is advised that visitors arrive in the early morning to purchase on-site tickets.

Tours and Ticket Fees

Scenic Tour - Ticket Prices

  • $12.00 - Adult age 17 & over
  • $8.00 - Youth ages 6-16
  • $0.00 - Child ages 5 & under
  • Passes Not Valid - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Senior Pass - Lifetime or Annual / Access Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass or voucher / Golden Age or Access Pass

Scenic Tour Details: This tour is moderately strenuous and lasts one hour and 20 minutes. The tour enters and exits the cave by elevator in the visitor center. The 1/2-mile tour route involves walking up and down 734 stairs along a paved trail with electrical lighting. This tour provides a winding exploration through chambers decorated with calcite crystals and other colorful speleothems. It is recommended that children five and under be taken on the Discovery Talk. Parents and guardians may not carry a child of any age on the Scenic Tour; all tour participants must be able to navigate the 734 stairs along the tour route unassisted. NOTE: 30-person maximum

Discovery Talk - Ticket Prices

  • $4.00 - Adult age 16 & over
  • Free - Youth & Children ages 15 & under
  • Free - Senior / Golden Age / Access pass holder only
  • Passes Not Valid - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass or voucher

Discovery Talk Details: This 20-minute program is a brief introduction to the natural and cultural history of Jewel Cave National Monument. This activity takes place inside the Target Room, the first cave chamber along the Scenic Tour route. This easy and accessible activity enters and exits the cave by elevator in the visitor center. It is recommended that families with young children and visitors with limited time or health concerns take part in this activity, versus a extended cave tour. NOTE: 20-person maximum

Historic Lantern Tour - Ticket Prices

  • $12.00 - Adult age 17 & over
  • $8.00 - Youth ages 8-16 (must be at least age 8)
  • Passes Not Valid - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Senior Pass - Lifetime or Annual / Access Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass or voucher / Golden Age or Access Pass

Lantern Tour Details: The Lantern Tour (summer season only) is a 1940s style adventure within the Historic Cave Entrance. Visitors carry lanterns along a 1/2-mile undeveloped cave trail, entering and exiting the cave through the historic entrance. This strenuous tour lasts one hour and 45 minutes and includes about 600 steep, narrow stairs. The tour requires bending, stooping, duck walking, and navigation of steep, wooden, ladder-like steps. Children ages seven and under are not allowed on Lantern Tours. Parents and guardians may not carry a child of any age on the Lantern Tour; all tour participants must be able to navigate the tour route unassisted. NOTE: 20-person maximum

Wild Caving Tour - Ticket Prices

  • $31.00 - Adult age 16 & over
  • Passes Not Valid - Annual Pass / Annual - Military Pass / Senior Pass - Lifetime or Annual, Access Pass / Volunteer Pass / 4th Grade Pass or voucher / Golden Age or Access Pass
  • The minimum participant age allowed is 16 years old; proof of age may be required.
  • A parent or legal guardian of a 16 or 17 year old is required to sign a permission waiver. The parent or guardian must remain on-site during the entire tour.

Wild Caving Tour Details: This three to four-hour strenuous tour is designed for visitors who want the thrill of experiencing the cave in its natural state. Participants scramble over piles of cave debris, chimney between walls, climb semi-vertical rocks (rope-assisted), and belly crawl through tight passages along a 2/3-mile off-trail route. Participants are required to fit through a passage measuring 8 1/2 inches high by 24 inches wide. Participants must provide and wear specific caving clothes and boots. Tours may be canceled due to a lack of required participants or a lack of proper caving equipment. Reservations are required for this tour, and tour dates are usually limited to the summer season (May through September). Tour schedules are normally updated by late April of each calendar year. For more information, visit Operating Hours and Seasons or call the visitor center directly at (605) 673-8300 and speak with a park ranger. NOTE: 5-person maximum.

 

America the Beautiful
The National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program

This program provides seven pass options for the public to use at Federal recreation sites where Entrance fees or Standard Amenity fees are charged. Recreation fees continue to provide a vital source of revenue for improving facilities and visitor services at a variety of public lands across the country. These annual or lifetime passes provide an affordable and convenient way to access Federal recreation lands with the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, USDA Forest Service, Bureau of Reclamation, and the Bureau of Land Management. Up to 100% of the pass program's proceeds are used to improve and enhance visitor recreation services. These passes are not valid for Expanded Amenity fees such as camping, cave tours, boat launches, or concession fees. Each pass is non-transferable and must be signed by the pass owner to be valid. Passes do not provide a discount at cooperating association bookstores or other park stores.

For more information or to inquire about the purchase of a pass, visit the USGS website related to recreational passes.


Will my America the Beautiful Pass work at Jewel Cave National Monument?
Answer: The Lifetime Senior Pass, Annual Senior Pass, and Access Pass are the only passes accepted at the monument and can only be used by the pass holder for the Discovery Talk. These passes do not cover the fees for Scenic Tours, Historic Lantern Tours, or Wild Caving Tours.

If I forgot my Senior Pass or Access Pass and have to pay a fee for the Discovery Talk, can I get a refund later?
Answer: No ... refunds are not issued for missing passes. Pass order confirmation letters, credit card receipts, and handtags without passes are also not accepted as proof of purchase of a Senior Pass or Access Pass.

Can I purchase America the Beautiful Passes at the monument?
Answer: No ... Access Passes are available on-site for those that qualify; however, all other passes need to be purchased online or through a participating public land office, visitor center, or administration building.

Do the other NPS sites in the Black Hills accept America the Beautiful Passes?
Answer: A pass is only valid for entrance and standard amenity fees (day use). Camping, cave tours, boat tours, and other ranger-guided services are often not covered; however, Senior Pass and Access Pass holders may receive a discount at some locations. Please check with each individual park unit for clarification on their fees and pass acceptance.

Last updated: August 21, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

11149 U.S. Hwy. 16
Building B12

Custer, SD 57730

Phone:

(605) 673-8300

Contact Us