Jewel Cave National Monument
Custer, South Dakota
For those with limited time, short attention span or physical limitations the Discovery Tour at Jewel Cave National Monument offers an introduction to the world’s third longest cave system. The 20 minute, ranger-led tour includes tales of the cave’s discovery and current exploration efforts plus a visit to the Target Room to see the “jewels” of Jewel Cave – two special calcite crystals known as dogtooth and nailhead spar. Descent 240-ft. below the surface and return is via elevator. Even wheelchairs can be accommodated on this tour.
Other tours options are the moderately strenuous 80 minute Scenic Tour, a Historic Lantern Tour, and a 3-4 hour strenuous adventure on the Wild Caving Tour. I highly recommend the Historic Lantern Tour, we did this many years ago and our sons still remember the sense of adventure.
To qualify for the Wild Caving Tour one must fit through the space in this concrete block. It’s beyond my imagination to ever want to, not that there is any danger that I would pass the test.
Jewel Cave Nt. Monument – 13 miles west of Custer, SD on US16, http://www.nps.gov/jeca/index.