Skip to Content

Can You Explore Jewel Cave On Your Own

Can You Explore Jewel Cave On Your Own

Who does not love and appreciate solo traveling and exploration? We sure do. Imagine being able to explore a cave on your own. Let us see if that is the case at Jewel Cave. 

Unfortunately, you cannot explore Jewel Cave on your own. You would have to enroll in one of the guided tours or rangers-led programs to see the cave. This is done to protect the natural fauna of the cave. However, if you still wish to explore independently, you can do it on the surface. 

For a virtual tour of Jewel Cave Park, watch this video as you read: 

Jewel Cave National Monument ~ 3-minute tour

Things To Do At Jewel Cave Park

An array of activities are offered at Jewel Cave park. We have tried to fit most of them in the list below. 

Take a cave tourJewel Cave is one of the most spectacular caves in the world, and visitors can explore it through various guided tours. Tours vary in length and difficulty, and visitors can choose from various options, including the Scenic Tour, Historic Lantern Tour, and Wild Caving Tour.

Go hiking – The park has several hiking trails that offer opportunities to explore the park’s surface, including the Canyon Trail, the Roof Trail, and the Nature Trail.

Attend a ranger program – The park offers a variety of ranger-led programs, including guided hikes, evening campfire programs, and cave talks.

Picnic – The park has several picnic areas that offer stunning views of the Black Hills and surrounding forest.

Visit the Visitor Center – The visitor center offers exhibits on the history and geology of the cave, as well as a bookstore, gift shop, and information desk.

Wildlife watching – The park is home to various wildlife, including deer, elk, mountain lions, and bears, which can often be spotted on the park’s hiking trails.

Go rock climbing – The park offers opportunities for rock climbing, including guided trips to the park’s climbing areas.

Photography – Incredible opportunities for photography, both inside the cave and on the surface, are available for all photography enthusiasts and social media users. 

Can You Explore Jewel Cave On Your Own?

The Jewel Cave has its own set of rules for visitors. People are not allowed to explore Jewel Cave on their own. They are all expected to take guided tours to explore the cave to ensure visitors’ safety and protect the fragile cave environment. 

However, while visitors are not allowed to explore the cave, there are still many opportunities to explore the park’s surface, including hiking trails. 

Jewel Cave offers a variety of guided cave tours for visitors, ranging from easy, accessible tours to more challenging ones requiring crawling and climbing. The tours are led by park rangers who have years of training and knowledge about the cave’s geology and history.

If you have any questions, they can provide insight into the cave’s delicate formations and unique features.

Facts About Jewel Cave

We have curated some interesting facts about the largest cave in North Dakota below. 

  • Jewel Cave is the third-longest cave in the world, with over 210 miles of mapped and surveyed passages. The cave is still being explored, and new passages are regularly discovered.
  • The cave was initially discovered in 1900 by Frank and Albert Michaud, who were brothers looking for a lost bear cub. They saw the cave’s entrance and returned with a candle to explore it.
  • Jewel Cave is named after the sparkling calcite crystals that line many of its passages and for its delicate formations, including rare helictites and box work.
  • The cave is home to various wildlife, including bats, mice, and spiders. The cave’s ecosystem is fragile, and visitors must follow strict rules to protect the cave’s environment.
  • Jewel Cave was designated a national monument in 1908 by President Theodore Roosevelt. It is now part of the National Park System.
  • The cave is located in the Black Hills region of South Dakota, known for its rugged terrain and scenic beauty.
  • The cave is open year-round, although the number of tours and tour times may vary depending on the season.
  • In addition to cave tours, visitors can explore the park’s surface, including hiking trails and a visitor center with exhibits and educational programs.
  • Jewel Cave National Monument is also home to the historic Hell Canyon Ranger Station, built in the early 1900s and now a museum. Rangers used the station to patrol the surrounding forests and protect the area from wildfires.

Things To Be Mindful Of At Jewel Cave

Jewel Cave National Monument is a unique and fragile natural environment, and visitors should take care to protect it. Here are some things to be careful about at Jewel Cave:

Stay On Designated Trails

You are expected to stay on the designated trails to avoid disturbing delicate formations and to help protect the cave’s ecosystem.

Follow Park Regulations

Like any other place you visit, you must follow all park regulations, including food, drinks, and smoking restrictions. Moreover, stay within marked boundaries and avoid touching or removing any natural features.

Dress Appropriately

The cave temperature is around 49°F (9°C), and the air can be damp and humid, so you should dress appropriately, wear comfortable shoes, and bring a light jacket or sweater. 

Watch Your Step

The cave floor can be slippery and uneven, so visitors should watch their steps and use handrails when provided. Moreover, it is advised to wear appropriate footwear for the guided tour. 

Be Prepared For Emergencies

It is best to be prepared for emergencies by carrying appropriate supplies, such as water, snacks, and a first aid kit. Be aware of the cave’s emergency procedures and follow park rangers’ instructions.

Respect Other Visitors

Respect other visitors and avoid making excessive noise or disturbing others on tour.

Final Thoughts

Refrain from being gutted if you are not allowed to explore the treasure alone. Sometimes things are better in groups, which may be one such instance. You may get some insight into the cave formations and phenomena from the people around you.