Jewel Cave National Monument works hard to accommodate all audiences to the best of its ability, as well as create exceptional experiences. Visitors with limited sight or sight impairments will find this information helpful in planning an enjoyable visit.
Trails – Although the trails are considered easy to moderate, each area is undeveloped or paved with loose gravel. In some areas, stairs are found along the pathways, and uneven terrains may be present. Interested hiking enthusiasts are encouraged to ask a park ranger for more information.
Roof Trail: ¼ mile, Easy
Canyons Trail: 3 ½ mile, Moderate
Hell Canyon Trail: 5 ½ mile, Easy to Moderate / NOTE: This trailhead is found within the nearby Black Hills National Forest, located along Hwy 16 about one mile west of the Monument's main entrance.
Weather - The weather can change very quickly in the Black Hills.However, surface conditions do not normally affect the cave environment. The abrupt changes in weather only affect the trails and perhaps the ranger-guided activities near the visitor center.In the summer, the average temperature is around 80 degrees F; thunderstorms often occur during the afternoons. In the off-season, temperatures vary from sub-zero to moderate conditions;winter storms can occur at any time. Be advised that there are no shelters along the trails, and off-season trail conditions vary from day to day.
Visitors are encouraged to monitor the weather forecasts before venturing to the Monument. Furthermore, visitors should be aware of any pending weather conditions before hiking on any trail. If further assistance is needed, feel free to ask a park ranger for the most updated weather and trail conditions.
Exhibits and Displays / Visitor Center - All exhibits and displays are accessible according to ADA standards. Both interactive and tactile displays are also available throughout the facility for visitor use and educational engagement. The front desk complements ADA standards and allows for easy communication between staff and visitors.
Braille is not provided within the exhibits or displays; however, interpretive hand wands are available on a first come first serve basis at the visitor center front desk. The hand-held wands provide audio narration related to each exhibit and display, while also helping visitors safely navigate through the facility.
NOTE: Jewel Cave National Monument earned 2nd Place in the Media Awards Program by the National Association for Interpretation in 2014. Part of the award process complemented the accessibility features and universal concepts within the exhibits and displays.
Guided Cave Tours - Scenic Tours, Historic Lantern Tours, and Discovery Talks are appropriate and available for visitors with limited sight or sight impairments. The guided cave tours range from easy to moderately strenuous.
Over 700 stair steps are found along the Scenic Tour route. Yet, many of the walkways offer hand railings. The Historic Lantern Tour offers around 300 stairs, many of which are steep. The Discovery Talk offers participants the option of walking down and back up 15 steps or staying on the first paved platform; the Discovery Talk is the only programming option inside the cave that allows canes.
NOTE: Visitors are NOT allowed to touch the cave at any point along the guided tours.
Interpretive Patio Talks and Guided Nature Hikes – Visitors are encouraged to take part in a variety of ranger-led activities throughout the summer months.Interpretive patio talks occur each day near the visitor center from about mid-June through late August. Each patio talk offers a hands-on activity or visitor demonstration that engages multiple audiences. Guided nature hikes are scheduled once each day and take place on the one-quarter mile Roof Trail near the visitor center.
Off-season programs and activities are limited, due to staff size. For an updated program schedule, ask a park ranger for additional information.