Cave Tours - Jewel Cave
For cave tours it is advised to wear low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes or hiking boots. Close-toed shoes are highly recommended. Cave temperatures hover around 49 degrees Fahrenheit or 9 degrees Celsius year-round and a light jacket or sweater is advisable. Persons who have heart or respiratory conditions, foot or lower joint problems, have recently been hospitalized, have a fear of heights or elevators should talk with a park ranger before embarking on cave tours.
Immerse yourself within the third longest cave in the world. With over 169 miles of mapped and surveyed passages, this underground wilderness appeals to human curiosity. Its splendor is revealed through fragile formations and glimpses of brilliant color. Its maze of passages lures explorers, and its scientific wealth remains a mystery. Studies indicate that this represents only a fraction of what remains to be found. This resource is truly a jewel in the National Park Service.
The Scenic Tour route provides an opportunity to visit various cave chambers and passages decorated with calcite crystals and other speleothems. This tour is considered a modern day walking tour along a paved trail with electric lighting. The tour enters and leaves the cave by elevator in the Visitor Center. The Scenic Tour is moderately strenuous and lasts 1 hour and 20 minutes.
The tour route involves walking up and down 723 stair steps along a 1/2 mile loop (equivalent to 40 flights of stairs). During the Scenic Tour, you see two types of calcite crystals known as nailhead spar and dogtooth spar, which are the "jewels" of Jewel Cave. In addition, you can view boxwork, cave popcorn, flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites, draperies, delicate strands of gypsum, and a long ribbon drapery called the cave bacon. It contains large rooms strewn with boulders, tight crawlways, and dark fissures leading into the unknown.
We pick you up at your hotel at 8:00 a.m. to start the day with the earliest cave tours, as they do not accept reservations and sometimes fill up later in the day. We will stop in Custer, SD for lunch between caves. If you want to see both caves the cost is $165 per person plus 6% state sales tax, and takes 9½ hours. If you just want to see one cave the cost is $135 per person plus 6% state sales tax, and takes about 5½ hours. These prices include the cost of cave admission but not lunch. (If the tour runs substantially over the allotted time additional charges may apply.) Guide gratuities are at your discretion. We provide cold bottled water and you may bring any snacks you like.