The Jewel Cave’s 166 miles of mapped passageways have become a stunning place for South Dakota visitors to walk the trials and look at the crystals hidden within. Visitors can take one of the four guided tours offered by the park and there is a tour for everyone.
The Discovery Tour
For visitors who are short on time or have trouble negotiating stairs, there is the 20-minute
Discovery Tour. Visitors take an elevator down into a large cavern and lead to a platform where a park ranger will speak on the history of the cave; including the theory on how it was formed and the discovery of the Jewel Cave.
Visitors will also learn about the nailhead spar and dogtooth spar formations within the cave as well as the rest of the known geological and cultural history of the cave.
The Scenic Tour
The 1 hour and 20 minute Scenic Tour is great for those who want to see more of the cave and what it has to offer. In order to participate in this moderately strenuous tour, guests need to be able to walk up and down 723 stair steps along a 1/2 mile loop.
In addition, guests are encouraged to wear closed toed, low-heeled, rubber-soled shoes or hiking boots, and a light jacket because the temperature in the cave averages 49 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Scenic Tour allows guests a look at a few of the “jewels” of the cave; nailhead spar and dogtooth spar. Guests will also see cave popcorn, flowstone, stalactites, stalagmites while on this tour.
The Historic Lantern Tour
Visitors who would like a more strenuous tour with an 1930’s flare, there is the Historic Lantern Tour. This 1 hour and 45 minute tour takes visitors on 1/2 mile long lantern lit journey which includes 600 ladder-like steps.
The only light used on the Historic Lantern Tour comes from lanterns that most the guests on the tour carry. Those who take this tour are required to be over 6 years old, wearing closed toed, rubber-soled shoes, long pants, and a light jacket.
The Wild Caving Tour
Guests who crave adventure and are able to fit through an 8-1/2 inch by 24-inch crawl space can participate in this 3 to 4 hour experience. This 2/3 of a mile long journey will teach visitors about low-impact caving, caving techniques and safety while they squeeze between cave walls, and use a rope assist to climb a nearly vertical wall. For this reason, guests who have a fear of closed spaces or heights should not attempt this tour.
Before beginning on the Wild Caving Tour guests must meet age requirements and have the following items: sturdy, above the ankle, rubber-soled, lug-soled, lace-up boots; coveralls; a long-sleeved shirt; gloves; knee and elbow pads; a clean change of clothing and shoes; and a plastic bag for carrying soiled clothes and boots.
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