Permits & Reservations

A black cell phone shows a website page for Black Hills Vacations.
Visitors are encouraged to make advanced cave tour reservations online by visiting Black Hills Vacations.

NPS Photo

Cave Tour Reservations

In collaboration with Black Hills Central Reservations, Jewel Cave National Monument offers advanced ticket sales for a limited number of cave tours. Advanced sales are only available for the Scenic Tour and are offered for the scheduled times on the hour, such as 10 a.m., 11 a.m., etc. Please be advised that tour times change throughout the year due to visitation and available staffing.

Visitors can purchase Scenic Tour tickets 72 hours ahead of their expected arrival date and up to 90 days in advance using an online service, Black Hills Vacations or through a call center at (844) 245-6179. Ticket prices are the same for reservations or first come first serve tickets purchased on-site. However, all financial transactions with reservations are administered by Black Hills Vacations.

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 commercial filming, 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 - Commercial Filming / Still Photography - Short Form
Application for Special Use Permit - Commercial Filming / 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.

Filming and Photography Permits

Commercial Filming and Still Photography Permits are issued for filming, photography, and associated sound recording to ensure the protection of the natural and cultural resources, to prevent significant disruption of normal visitor uses, or when the activities involve props, models, professional crews and casts, or set dressings. Furthermore, these permits are required for access to surface and sub-surface areas of the monument normally closed to the visiting public. For more information, contact the Chief Ranger at (605) 673-8342.

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.

Permits Involving Cave Access / White Nose Syndrome

All persons 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. Permit participants are advised that other cave sites may not allow them to enter another cave with any item that has been inside Jewel Cave. The reason for this possibility is due to Jewel Cave being identified as a WNS-positive site.

Last updated: August 7, 2020

Contact the Park

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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