Ranger-guided tours are required to enter Jewel Cave and tours are offered at scheduled times, which vary by season. All cave tours must have a minimum of 2 visitors. Tickets are required to enter the cave, and are available on-site, in person, on a first come, first served basis (same day tickets). Reservations are not taken over the phone by a park ranger. Cave tour tickets are limited by tour type and tours can often sell out at any time during the day. During the peak season or a holiday weekend, it is advised that you arrive in the morning to purchase tour tickets. In collaboration with Black Hills Central Reservations, advanced ticket sales for a limited number of the Scenic Tour are offered for the scheduled times on the hour. Visitors can purchase Scenic Tour tickets in advance between 72 hours and 90 days using an online service: www.blackhillsvacations.com or by phone: 605-717-7629. Reservations are not accepted for the Historic Lantern Tour or the Discovery Talk. These tour options and (same day) tickets are available in person on a first come, first served basis on the day of the tour.
Important Information For All Cave Tours
- All visitors purchasing tickets are required to be screened for White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which is a bat disease. Due to WNS, which is affecting bat populations in North America, Europe, and Asia, clothes, shoes, or gear worn in any cave or mine since 2005 will NOT be allowed inside Jewel Cave. This includes private caves and mines within South Dakota and anywhere in the world. Furthermore, clothing and footwear used on the Candlelight and Wild Cave Tours at Wind Cave National Park are also not allowed within Jewel Cave. If necessary, visitors must change their footwear, and/or clothing, before taking part in any cave tour. If a person is unable to change their footwear, they will not be allowed to enter the cave. For those visitors taking part in the Garden of Eden, Natural Entrance, and Fairgrounds Tours at nearby Wind Cave National Park, those clothing and footwear items can be worn inside Jewel Cave.
- Sandals, flip flops, or other shoes that are not securely fastened to the foot are not allowed on any cave tour. If questionable, park rangers may ask that you change your footwear before taking part in a cave tour.
- In summer (June - August), wait times between purchasing tickets and select tour time can be 3 to 4 hours.
- There is minimal food service at the monument. The closest town is Custer (13 miles east on highway 16).
- All scheduled cave tours leave on time. You cannot catch up to a tour group once the cave tour leaves the surface.
- There are NO REFUNDS for missed tours or late arrivals. Visitors are strongly encouraged to review and follow the restrictions carefully before arriving on-site.
- There are NO self-guided cave tours at Jewel Cave.
- The temperature in the cave is 49°F/9°C year-round. It is recommended to wear long pants and a sweatshirt, sweater, or jacket.
- Tennis shoes, sneakers, or hiking boots are REQUIRED for the Historic Lantern Tour. Open-toed shoes and Close-toed sandals (including Crocs, Teva footwear, and KEEN hiking sandals as examples) are not acceptible.
- Cave tour participants, of all ages, must be able to navigate the tour route unassisted.
- Know your limits! The Scenic and Historic Lantern Tours require visitors to climb a large number of stairs. Visitors who cannot negotiate stairs should not attempt these tours. There are 723 stair steps on the Scenic Tour. There are 600 steep, ladder-like steps on the Historic Lantern Tour.
- These tours are moderately strenuous and are not recommended if you have a heart condition, breathing issues, poor balance, trouble walking, issues with climbing stairs, or back, knee, hip, ankle, or foot problems.
- For ticket prices, review the Fees & Passes page.
Important Information Regarding Young Children
- It is recommended that young children participate on a Discovery Talk rather than the Scenic Tour.
- Children may NOT be carried on any portion of the Scenic Tour route. Strollers, diaper bags, and child backpack carriers are prohibited in the cave.
- Infants and toddlers can be carried using a front-carrier only and the child must remain in the carrier throughout the duration of the Scenic Tour.
- There are many other activities available for young children during the summer season; including the Junior Ranger program, Ranger-led activities and surface hikes.
What to Bring
Warm clothes-Jewel Cave remains 49°F/9°C year-round
Good walking shoes, sneakers, or hiking boots-You will be walking on pathways or the cave floor in close proximity to cave rocks.
A camera-Jewel is a very unique and beautiful cave. Photography is permitted on the Scenic and Discovery Tours; however, cameras must be small enough to fit in your pocket on the Historic Lantern Tour. Due to safety concerns, camera use is not allowed on any stairs in the cave.
What NOT to Bring
All Backpacks, Purses, Handbags, Weapons, Hiking/walking sticks/poles-For your protection as well as that of the cave resources, these items are NOT allowed on ANY cave tour. Secure all items in your vehicle.
Food, gum, candy, drinks, tobacco products, monopods, tripods, Go-Pro sticks, large flashlights, large camera bags, pets, strollers, and child backpack carriers are not permitted on any cave tour.
Any items used or worn in any other caves or mines-This is to prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus known to kill bats.