Spotlight Thursday – Jewel Cave National Monument

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Spotlight Thursday - Jewel Cave National Monument

Every Thursday, I will be posting a photo from my travels and a spotlight on the location. Today’s Spotlight Thursday is from my visit to Jewel Cave National Monument in Custer, South Dakota.  I spent a wonderful day exploring this cave and the land above it on my South Dakota National Park Road Trip.

Jewel Cave is one of the first National Monument in the United States.  It was created on February 7, 1908.  The cave is hidden among the mountain in Black Hills, South Dakota.  The cave was discovered in 1900s by Frank and Albert Michaud.  Frank and Albert found a hole in a canyon.  They had to use dynamite to create an entrance.  In the natural entrance, they discovered the calcite crystals that give Jewel Cave its name.

According to park service, less than 3% of Jewel Cave had been discovered and mapped.  Currently, there is 175 miles of mapped cave.  Jewel Cave is currently the 3rd longest cave in the world.  Until 1959, only 2 miles of cave had been mapped.  That year, Herb and Jan Conn started exploring the cave and added 15 miles of passageways.  By their retirement in 1980’s, they had mapped more than 64 miles. Every year, cavers search for more passageways.  Discoveries range from a few feet to miles.

Jewel Cave offers several different types of tours.  It is important to get there early on a busy day to get tickets to your desired tour.  The wild cave tour must be booked in advance and has a very limited number of participants.  The other three tours are sold first come first serve.

I took the morning Historic Lantern Tour and Scenic Tours.  The Lantern Tour enters the cave through the natural entrance created by Frank and Albert.  The Scenic Tour uses the elevator shaft and includes Discovery Talk route.  After my tours, I went hiking in the valley near the Natural Entrance.

Enjoy this photo of the Jewel Cave National Monument?  Check me out on Instagram @MatDifference for more great photos.

Check out my other photos from Spotlight Thursday.

Spotlight Thursday - Jewel Cave National Monument

14 Replies to “Spotlight Thursday – Jewel Cave National Monument”

  1. Erika (Erika's Travels)

    It’s amazing how big the cave is vs what has been mapped. I wonder how many more of these gems are undiscovered in the area.
    I’d love to visit Jewel Cave! Unfortunately, I only found out about it AFTER I’d visited South Dakota on two separate road trips. At least it makes for a reason to go back!
    Erika (Erika’s Travels)’s current road . . . Day Trip to Tetiaroa AtollMy Profile

    Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I hear that a lot. People come for Rushmore and then discover Jewel and Wind but don’t have time to visit. It makes me kind of sad that Rushmore overshadows all the other stuff.

      Reply
  2. Dawn Kealing

    Wow, 3rd longest in the world?! Definitely don’t want to get lost haha. This place looks stunning. I’ve always been too nervous to go caving; after seeing that gorgeous photo I truly feel like I am missing out. :/ I’d love to see it for myself and do some of the hikes around the park and maybe one inside the cave! 🙂
    Dawn Kealing’s current road . . . Destination Guide | Ometepe Island, NicaraguaMy Profile

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    • Jennifer Post author

      It is a guided tour so there is no worry about getting lost. They don’t let people just explore as they please. You should go and take a tour.

      Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I got there at 7:00 am to ensure I got tour tickets. By the end of my first tour at 11 am they were sold out. I both like and dislike the first come first serve system. I like it, because for people like me who don’t plan, I can get tickets easier. But from the other side people who need to plan it hurts them.

      Reply
    • Jennifer Post author

      I am pretty sure these guys were Americans. Given that Jewel was found in the 1900’s I doubt they were discovered by the same guys.

      Reply

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