In addition to the guided cave tours, there are many opportunities for exploring on the surface at Jewel Cave National Monument. The 1,279 acre park is located in a Ponderosa pine forest. The Jasper Fire of August 24, 2000, has changed the scenery of the Monument but it is an opportunity to see first hand the forest recovery process. For more information on this fire see our fire page.
A variety of talks, demonstrations and guided nature hikes are offered on the surface. Program topics include cave exploration, wildlife, fire ecology, Jasper Fire, wildflowers and plants of the area, and other subjects. Programs are regularly scheduled from mid-June through mid-August, and may be offered throughout the rest of the year. There are no fees for these programs.
There are 393 documented plant species at Jewel Cave National Monument. Wildflowers are commonly seen in bloom near the visitor center, at the historic area, and along all surface trails. Enjoy the flowers - look at them, smell them, compare them, sketch them, photograph them - but please do not pick or otherwise disturb them! See the wildflower page for a selection of our flowers.
The bird list contains 120 species of birds seen at the Monument. Some are abundant, like the red-breasted nuthatch, while others, like the bald eagle, are uncommon but are seen occasionally. Pick up a list at the visitor center or print one from the website and watch for birds while you enjoy the hiking trails.