Jewel Cave National Park

Jewel Cave National Park
South Dakota's Jewel Cave winds for over 145 miles and is the second longest cave in the world. Half lies beneath the national monument's 1,275 acres of ponderosa pine forest; the remainder runs through the neighboring Black Hills National Forest.


Acidic groundwater cut through rock creating the cave's passages. Draining water created cave formations, such as stalactites, stalagmites, flowstone, draperies, and popcorn formations.


Tourists began visiting Jewel Cave in the 1910s. In the 1930s, the National Park Service began caring for the cave and building tourist infrastructures.


You can only enter the cave on a ranger-led tour. Short guided walks leave daily. Check the park calendar for more adventurous spelunking tours.


Explore the forests above the cave on one of three trails, ranging in length from 1/4 mile to 5.5 miles.

Fun Fact

Jewel Cave is still being mapped. Spelunkers added an additional 1,004.05 feet of previously unknown passages in January 2010.

Article Written By Kelly Aspen

Kelly Aspen's writing focuses on natural places, cultural sites and wildlife. She has more than 10 years of experience as an editor and writer for various magazines, books and websites.

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