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.
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Check out my other photos from Spotlight Thursday.