Jewel Cave National Monument
Jewel Cave is the 3rd longest cave in the world, a massive labyrinth of glittering underground passages that spans a total of 198 miles of mapped passages.
Located just 13 miles west of Custer, this National Monument holds a total of 1,273 acres and provides curious guests with educational information about the cave, its 'jewels', and it's geological history in the area. You will learn these things by taking a stroll through the Visitors Center, then by taking a guided tour of the cave itself.
The most popular tour option is the Scenic Tour, which will take you 0.5 miles total into the cave and show you the 'maze of passages, the scientific mystery, and the fragile formations' throughout. Learn all about the calcite crystals, or 'the jewels', and the difference between the two main types, nailhead spar and dogtooth spar. You must wear shoes fastened securely to your feet and be prepared to walk up and down a total of 723 steps.
More options for discovery exist during in the form of above ground self-guided trail tours, kid-friendly and completely accessible Discovery Talks, and special summer tours. The Discovery Talks take about 20 minutes and take place in one large room of the cave, with direct access from the Visitor Center elevator. In the summer you can opt-in to take the Historic Lantern Tour and/or Wild Caving Tour, as well.