Due to an elevator renovation project, normal cave tours are not available at this time. A Modified Discovery Tour is currently being offered. No advanced ticket reservations until further notice. All cave access is by guided tour only.
Join Ranger Jennie as she demonstrates what you will experience along the modified Discovery Tour. From purchasing your ticket, to entering the cave, Ranger Jennie shows visitors what to expect on their visit to Jewel Cave!
A modified version of the Discovery Tour is currently being offered while elevator repairs are completed. These walk-in/walk-out tours will involve a moderately-strenuous 1/2-mile trail hike to the cave, which includes 180 ft. of elevation loss. Pariticpants will meet the ranger at the cave entrance after hiking down the trail from the Visitor Center. Please plan for at least 20 minutes to hike from the Visitor Center to the cave entrance. Tours will enter the cave via a man-made portal for a 20-minute tour of a large cave room. Tours will exit the cave via the same route, concluding the ranger-led portion of the tour. Visitors can retrace their steps up the trail to the visitor center at their own pace, regaining 180 ft. of elevation in the process. Tickets are sold on a first come, first served basis on the day of your tour. No advanced reservations of tours are available at this time through recreation.gov.
Modified Discovery Tour - Things to Know
• This tour is not recommended for persons with heart or respiratory conditions, foot or lower joint problems, or who have been hospitalized recently. This tour is not wheelchair accessible.
• In accordance with CDC guidance, face coverings must be worn by individuals over the age of two years in the Portal Cave Entrance, Jewel Cave, and in outdoor areas when social distancing cannot be maintained unless fully vaccinated.
• Infants and toddlers can be carried in the cave in a front-carrier only. While in the cave, parents are not allowed to carry a child of any age without a front-carrier.
• Closed toe shoes such as tennis shoes, sneakers, or hiking boots are required for the cave tour. Shoes must be securely fastened to the foot. No sandals of any kind. If questionable, park rangers may ask that you change your footwear before taking part in the tour.
• Wear a light jacket or sweater. The cave temperature is 49°F or 9°C. Wear appropriate clothing to spend twenty minutes in the cool temperatures.
• All visitors exiting Jewel Cave are required to walk across a decontamination mat to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which is a bat disease.
• The fully accessible standard Discovery Tour will be offered as soon as elevators are available for public use.
General Cave Tour Information
The following information applies when tour operations are back to normal. Due to an elevator repair project and the suspension of tours, no reservations are available at this time through recreation.gov.
Ranger-guided tours are required to enter Jewel Cave, and the various tours are offered at scheduled times, which vary by season. Throughout the year, cave tours often fill to capacity by late morning. For this reason, visitors are encouraged to make advanced tour reservations through Recreation.gov. Advanced reservations are only available for Scenic Tours and can be made up to 24 hours before your arrival date, or up to 90 days in advance. Reservations for Scenic Tours are available for the tour times on the hour, beginning at 10 a.m. and followed with 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., etc.
Tickets for the Historic Lantern Tours, Discovery Tours, and some Scenic Tours are available on-site, in person, on a first come, first served basis; advanced reservations are not taken over the phone by park staff. Please be advised that all cave tour tickets are limited by tour type and time, and all tour options often sell out by late morning.
Due to limited availability and capacity of tours, all ticket sales are final. Refunds will only be issued for cancellations deemed necessary at the Park's discretion.
*Due to the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Wild Caving Tour will not be offered during the 2021 year.
Prepare Yourself for the Cave Tours
To prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which is a bat disease, all cave tour participants will walk across a decontamination mat when exiting Jewel Cave. NOTE: Other cave sites may not allow visitors to enter their resource with the same boots, clothing, or personal devices that have been inside Jewel Cave.
Know Your Limits! All cave tour participants (of all ages) must be able to navigate the tour routes unassisted. Cave tours are moderately strenuous and not recommended for anyone with health conditions, poor balance, mobility concerns, or those with physical limitations (i.e., climbing stairs, recent surgery, and illness).
Sandals of any kind or other shoes that are not securely fastened to the foot are not allowed on any cave tour. If questionable, park rangers will ask that you change your footwear before taking part in a cave tour.
The temperature inside Jewel Cave is 49 degrees F / 9 degrees C year-round. Visitors are encouraged to wear long pants and a sweatshirt, sweater, or light jacket.
Photography is permitted along the Scenic Tour and during Discovery Tours; however, visitors are encouraged to use small cameras and/or cell phones to avoid large lenses, bags, etc. Pictures are not allowed on any stairs within the cave.
There are NO REFUNDS for missed tours or late arrivals. Visitors are encouraged to plan their schedules carefully and be on-site at least 30 minutes prior to their scheduled tour time.
Historic Lantern Tours / Tennis shoes, sneakers, or hiking boots are required on the Historic Lantern Tour. Open-toed shoes and sandals of ANY kind are not acceptable.
Historic Lantern Tours / Due to several steep stairs, large cameras and bags are not allowed on Historic Lantern Tours. If questionable, park rangers will ask that these items be left in the security of a personal vehicle.
Historic Lantern Tours / Tour tickets are purchased near the visitor center; however, the cave tour takes place at the Jewel Cave Historic Area, which is located about one mile west of the main entrance to the visitor center parking lot.
Wild Caving Tours / Specific guidance is provided to all participants before arrival to the monument. Visitors taking part in this tour are encouraged to review the guidance and follow the instructions carefully in preparation for the adventure.
Important Information Regarding Young Children
Children may NOT be carried on any portion of the cave tours. Furthermore, strollers, diaper bags, and backpack carriers are not allowed in Jewel Cave. For this reason, the Discovery Tour is recommended for those with infants, toddlers, and young children.
Infants and toddlers can be carried using a front-carrier only, and the child must remain in the carrier throughout the duration of the cave tour.
If you are unsure of the cave tours, the monument also provides a Junior Ranger and Pee Wee Ranger Program for kids of all ages, along with patio talks and ranger-guided surface hikes during the summer months.
What NOT to Bring
Backpacks, purses, handbags, diaper bags, weapons, hiking sticks, and walking poles are not allowed inside Jewel Cave. For your safety, as well as the protection of the cave resources, these items need to be left in the security of a personal vehicle.
Food, gum, candy, drinks, tobacco products, monopods, tripods, Go-Pro sticks, large flashlights, and pets are not allowed inside Jewel Cave. These items need to be left in the security of a personal vehicle.
(605) 673-8300 The main phone line connects visitors with staff at the visitor center. Throughout the year, the phone line is monitored by staff on a daily basis, excluding holidays and days with limited visitor services. Please be advised that after-hours messages are not taken on the system; visitors are encouraged to call the visitor center during normal operations and speak with a park ranger for assistance.