Plan Your Visit

A cave explorer stands in passageway, with backlighting behind the picture.
Volunteer cave explorers continue to discover and map new passages. However, even with limited time, visitors to the monument can still experience a sense of exploration during the Scenic Tour, Historic Lantern Tour, or Wild Caving Tour.

NPS Photo / Dan Austin

 
Young kids looking at a wildflower identification book.
Each year, thousands of kids take part in the popular Junior Ranger and Pee Wee Ranger Programs at the monument. They learn about wildflowers, rocks and minerals, animal tracks, and wildlife observation skills.

NPS Photo / Bradley Block

Welcome to Jewel Cave National Monument

The monument is home to the third longest cave in the world. Although geographically "small" on the surface with only 1,273 acres, Jewel Cave spans over 200 miles in length and continues to be explored by volunteer cavers. Each year, visitors arrive on-site to experience a ranger-guided cave tour or to take part in nature hikes, interpretive patio talks, special events, and off-season activities. To have an efficient and memorable experience, we encourage visitors to review the following information while planning their trip to the beautiful Black Hills.

Basic Information ~ Common visitor questions can easily be found by reviewing the basic information related to the monument. What is the weather like throughout the year? Does the monument have a visitor center? What are the directions to the monument? Can I make tour reservations in advance?

Your Safety is Important ~ Like all public lands, situations at the monument may occur that create emergency issues. Whether you are hiking on the surface trails or taking part in a ranger-guided cave tour, accidents can happen at any time. Your awareness of potential safety issues is critical for avoiding problems on-site.

Operating Hours and Seasons ~ The visitor center hours, access to surface trails and picnic areas, tour times, and tour availability change throughout the year, depending on visitation and staffing levels. For the most up-to-date information, visitors are encouraged to review the operating hours and seasonal changes before making travel plans to the monument.

Which Cave Tour is Best? ~ Is this your first time to Jewel Cave? If so, there are four different cave experiences available during the summer season, with limited tour options in the off-season. Some tours are more adventurous than others, and some tours have age limitations. Before arriving on-site, you may want to check out the different tours online and decide which one is best for you or your family.

Fees and Passes ~ How much does a ticket cost? Should I make a tour reservation in advance? Will my annual pass work for a cave tour? Are there age limitations for the ranger-guided cave tours? This link provides fee information for each of the cave tour options. Most important, it provides guidance on how to make advanced reservations.

Special Events ~ Each year, the monument offers occasional special events or seasonal activities that may be of interest to visitors. As you plan your vacation, the website calendar may provide some additional program ideas and dates for your consideration.

Junior Ranger Program ~ The monument provides a fun and engaging Junior Ranger Program, as well as a Pee Wee Ranger Program for "little" park enthusiasts. Whether you are visiting the monument on-site or simply wish to learn more about Jewel Cave from your home, digital activity booklets can be accessed and printed online.

Accessible Opportunities ~ The monument provides services to as many visitors as possible throughout the year. Although some cave tours may not be fully accessible, other options for visitor engagement are available. This link provides additional information for those seeking assistance related to mobility questions, sign language services, service animal questions, access pass information, etc.

Nearby Attractions ~ If you are traveling a long distance to the Black Hills, we suspect you might have an interest in other public lands, attractions, and activities happening in western South Dakota. We realize that there are numerous options that might capture your attention. Nonetheless, the monument shares a few ideas of common sites within easy driving distance. For more information related to South Dakota Tourism, you may desire a Vacation Guide for enhancement planning assistance.



Last updated: November 7, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

11149 U.S. Hwy. 16
Building B12

Custer, SD 57730

Phone:

(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.

Contact Us