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Visitors are encouraged to make advanced cave tour reservations online by visiting Graphic

Cave Tour Reservations

In collaboration with, Jewel Cave National Monument offers advanced ticket sales for a limited number of cave tours. Advanced reservations are available for the Scenic Tour and Discovery Tour. Please be advised that tour times change throughout the year due to visitation and available staffing.

Visitors can purchase Scenic Tour and Discovery Tour tickets ahead of their expected arrival date through Tickets on do accrue a $1 per ticket processing fee, and all financial transactions with reservations are administered by

During the summer season (May through September), ranger-guided cave tours often fill to capacity by mid to late morning. For this reason, visitors are encouraged to make advanced reservations as early as possible during their travel planning. For additional information about guided cave tours, tour times, and ticket fees, please visit Fees and Passes.


Special Use Permits

Jewel Cave National Monument offers special use permits for an assortment of gatherings and a variety of commercial activities. The purpose of these permits is to ensure the protection of the monument's natural and cultural resources, as well as to minimize conflicts between visitors and event guests.

Special use permits often include activities such as still photography, weddings, memorial services, special ceremonies, auto club rallies, organized tours, large group camps, and youth gatherings. It is important to note that special events differ from public assemblies and public meetings in that the latter activities are rights protected by the First Amendment. The authority for the management of special events in a National Park Service site can be found in Title 16, U.S. Code and Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations, 2.50.

The following guidelines are established by the 2006 National Park Service Management Policies, as they relate to special event activities and gatherings in the monument, both on the surface and within the cave resource:

A special park use is a short-term activity that takes place within the monument and that:

  • Provides a benefit to an individual, group, or organization rather than the public at large.
  • Requires written authorization and some degree of management control from the NPS in order to protect park resources and the public interest.
  • Is not prohibited by law or regulation.
  • Is not initiated, sponsored, or conducted by the NPS
  • Is not managed under a concession contract.

Special use permits for special events will not be issued, if in the opinion of the Superintendent, the requested special event will:

  • Cause personal injury or damage to park resources.
  • Be contrary to the purposes for which the park was established, or unreasonably impair the atmosphere of peace and tranquility maintained in wilderness, natural, or cultural locations within the monument.
  • Unreasonably interfere with the interpretive efforts, visitor services, or other programs, or with administrative operations.
  • Substantially impair the operation of public facilities or services of NPS partners, concessionaires, or contractors.
  • Present a clear and present danger to public health and safety.
  • Result in significant conflict with other existing uses.

Application Forms
Application for Special Use Permit (Short Form)
Application for Special Use Permit (Long Form - all others)
Application for Special Use Permit - Still Photography - Short Form
Application for Special Use Permit - Still Photography - Long Form

Processing Time and Fees
All special use permit applications will be handled in the order in which they are received. Standard requests are usually processed in 10 business days. Requests that involve multiple locations, complex logistics, and/or coordination with other NPS sites or large-scale visitor activities may require a minimum of four weeks to process. A minimum of four weeks is also required to process special use permits for projects or activities that need additional environmental compliance.

A non-refundable processing fee is required for all special use permits. Additional fees vary depending on the type of permit issued and will be charged if the permit is approved. For questions or additional information, please contact the Special Park Use Coordinator at (605) 673-8342.

Submission Process
Complete the appropriate special use permit form(s) above that complement the activities desired and mail the completed version(s) to the Special Park Use Coordinator at the address listed below. Be advised that each permit request requires a non-refundable processing fee; personal checks need to be made payable to the National Park Service and included with the permit submission.

Jewel Cave National Monument
Attn: Special Park Use Coordinator
11149 US Hwy 16
Building B12
Custer, South Dakota 57730

First Amendment Events and Activities

Freedom of speech, the press, religion, and assembly are rights, not privileges. However, the courts have recognized that activities associated with the exercise of these rights may be reasonably regulated to protect legitimate government interests. Therefore, in order to protect the natural and cultural resources of the monument, the NPS may regulate certain aspects of First Amendment activities on-site, such as the time, place, and the manner in which they are conducted. It is the conduct associated with the exercise of these rights that is regulated and not the content of the message. For questions or additional information, please contact the Chief Ranger at (605) 673-8342.

Commercial Filming and Photography

Commercial Filming Changes to Commercial Filming Permits on Park Lands

On January 22, 2021, the US District Court for the District of Columbia issued a decision in Price v. Barr determining the permit and fee requirements applying to commercial filming under 54 USC 100905, 43 CFR Part 5, and 36 CFR Part 5 are unconstitutional. The National Park Service is currently determining how this decision will be implemented.

Following the recent court decision, the National Park Service will not be implementing or enforcing the commercial filming portions of 43 CFR Part 5 until further notice, including accepting applications, issuing permits, enforcing the terms and conditions of permits, issuing citations related to permits, or collecting cost recovery and location fees for commercial filming activities.

As regulations regarding commercial filming permits are being reassessed, those interested in commercial filming activities on land managed by the National Park Service are encouraged to contact the park directly for more information about filming in the park and to discuss how to minimize potential impacts to visitors and sensitive park resources.

Do I need a permit to film?

Currently, the National Park Service is not issuing commercial filming permits but is in the process of evaluating how best to regulate filming activities that affect visitors and park resources. All applicable laws and regulations governing activities and public use in parks still apply, including park hours and areas open and closed to the public.

Videographers, filmers, producers, directors, and other staff associated with commercial filming are reminded that rules and regulations that apply to all park visitors still apply to filming activities even if no permit is needed for their activity.

Check the Jewel Cave National Monument website for information on park regulations, closures, and other safety tips.

You may also check with park staff for more information by sending an email to e-mail us or calling 605-673-8342.

Please check back on this website for additional updates.

Are filmers still required to pay fees to film in parks?

As of January 22, 2021, the National Park Service is no longer collecting application or location fees, or cost recovery for filming.

Still Photography

When is a permit needed?

Price v. Barr had no impact on how the National Park Service regulates still photography, so there are no changes in how the National Park Service regulates that activity. Still photographers require a permit only when:
  1. the activity takes place at location(s) where or when members of the public are generally not allowed; or

  2. the activity uses model(s), sets(s), or prop(s) that are not a part of the location's natural or cultural resources or administrative facilities; or

  3. a park would incur additional administrative costs to monitor the activity.

What fees will I have to pay?

The National Park Service will collect a cost recovery charge and a location fee for still photography permits. Cost recovery includes an application fee and any additional charges to cover the costs incurred by the National Park Service in processing your request and monitoring your permit.

Jewel Cave National Monument collects a $50 Application Fee when processing the application.

In addition, the National Park Service has been directed by Congress to collect a fee to provide a fair return to the United States for the use of park lands. The National Park Service uses the following still photography fee schedule:
  • 1–10 people - $50/day
  • 11–30 people - $150/day
  • Over 30 people - $250/day
Are there other permit requirements?

You may be required to obtain liability insurance naming the United States as additionally insured in an amount commensurate with the risk posed to park resources by your proposed activity. You may also be asked to post a bond to ensure the payment of all charges and fees and the restoration of the area if necessary.

Application Process for Still Photography

Download the form(s) here: Filming Application Short Form

Send completed Still Photography Applications to e-mail us or mail to:

Chief Ranger Office
11149 US Highway 16, BLDG. B12
Custer, SD 57730

For more information e-mail us or call 605-673-8342.

Application Processing

The $50 Application Fee will be collected over the phone by a debit or credit card upon reviewing and processing the application.

Most requests should be processed within 14 days if the application is complete and without alteration, except for:
  • Requests involving multiple locations, complex logistics, or coordination with other visitor activities will require a minimum of 21 days to process.
  • Projects that require environmental or cultural resource evaluation must be submitted no less than 30 days before the start of proposed activities and may require additional time dependent upon project complexity.
  • Your request will be evaluated based on the information in your application. If substantial staff resources are expended in the evaluation of the request, the applicant will be billed for the additional costs. In compliance with the requirements of the Debt Collection Improvement Act of 1996, applicants must submit their social security number or Federal Tax ID number when filling out the application for permit. Park managers will not sign location releases supplied by applicants.

Research Permits

For those wanting to conduct special research within Jewel Cave National Monument, a permit is required for all surface and sub-surface activities. For more information, contact the Chief of Resource Management at (605) 673-8308.

Last updated: April 21, 2022

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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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