If your travels take you to South Dakota, take the time to visit Jewel Cave National Monument, which is 13 miles west of the town of Custer in the Black Hills. Jewel Cave is the second longest cave in the world, with 145 miles of passageways. The cave takes its name from its shiny calcite crystal formations. In addition to the caves themselves, visitors can explore above ground via many trails and walks.
Guided Cave Hikes
All cave hikes are led by National Park Services Rangers. The average temperature in the caves is 49 degrees F. Bring warm clothes for layering. No food, drink or tobacco is allowed in the caves.
While cameras are allowed, even encouraged, tripods are not allowed in the caves. Flash photography is permitted while in the caves.
Located in a 1,279 acre Ponderosa Pine forest, Jewel Cave National Monument is also home to 393 different plants and wildflowers, including more than 120 different species of birds. Bird lists are available at the visitors center. Hikers can explore many underground trails including "Hell's Canyon," "A Walk On the Roof" and "The Canyons."
No Fee Ranger Programs
Free talks on wildlife ecology, indigenous plants, the Jasper Fire of August 24, 2000 and more are led by Rangers daily.
Jewel Cave is open year round. It's easily reached by car from Custer, South Dakota or Newcastle, Wyoming. The Rapid City, South Dakota airport is only 54 miles away.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.