Guided Tours

Advance ticket sales are available at Advance reservations are 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. In the summer season (May through September), cave tour reservations will become available approximately 30 days in advance. All cave access is by guided tour only.

Guided Tours Image JECA
A Park Ranger gives a guided tour to visitors at Jewel Cave National Monument.

NPS Staff Photo

General Cave Tour Information

Ranger-guided tours are required to enter Jewel Cave, and the various tours are offered at scheduled times, which vary by season. Cave tours often book in advance. In the summer season (May through September), cave tour reservations will become available approximately 30 days in advance. For this reason, visitors are encouraged to make advanced tour reservations through The booking window closes at noon the day before, and will close earlier if the tour sells out.

If daily staffing allows, some tickets for Discovery Tours and Scenic Tours are sold on-site, in person, on a first-come, first-serve basis. During the summer months Historic Lantern Tours can also be sold on a walk-up basis if staffing allows. Please be advised that all cave tour tickets are limited by tour type and time, and if walk-up tickets are available they often sell out by late morning. Availability of walk-up tickets is not guaranteed. Again, advance reservations on are recommended to get on a cave tour.

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.


Prepare Yourself for the Cave Tours

  • Wear tennis shoes, sneakers, or hiking boots to participate in a cave tour. No hiking sandals with openings or any type of shoes with any openings (other than the one your foot goes into) are acceptable. If questionable, park rangers may ask that you change your footwear before taking part in the tour. If the visitor does not have appropriate footwear, they will be denied access to the cave tour.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • The temperature inside Jewel Cave is 49°F / 9°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.
  • 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 / All participants must be at least 8 years old or older.
  • Historic Lantern Tours / Tour tickets are purchased online; 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.
  • To prevent the spread of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), which is a fungal disease that impacts bats, 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.

Important Information Regarding Children

  • Children may NOT be carried on any portion of the cave tours. Furthermore - 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 (which does allow strollers).
  • Infants and toddlers can participate in the Scenic Tour only if in a front-carrier attached to their adult, and the child must remain in the carrier throughout the duration of the cave tour.
  • Children 15 years of age and younger must be accompanied by an adult while in the park and on a 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 with other ranger-guided activities during the summer months.

What NOT to Bring

  • Do not wear shoes with with any openings, such as hiking sandals (like Chacos, Keens, Tevas), crocs, flip flops, etc - as these are not allowed on any cave tour.
  • 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.

Last updated: March 13, 2024

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

11149 U.S. Hwy. 16
Building B12

Custer, SD 57730


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.

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