We noticed that you're using an unsupported browser. The TripAdvisor website may not display properly.
We support the following browsers:
Windows: Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome. Mac: Safari.

Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

Which South Dakota hotels are on sale?
mm/dd/yyyy mm/dd/yyyy
See hotels
Houston, tx
posts: 282
reviews: 28
Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

Only have time for 1...which one is better? Would it be safe to assume that the edge would go to Wind Cave, since it has National Park status?

Brownsburg-Chatham...
posts: 274
reviews: 4
1. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

This is a very hard question. I saw them both last year. By the way, Jewel Cave is also run totally the same as Wind Cave by the National Park Services. They both are beautiful and quite different from each other. I would have a hard time picking 1 over the other.

posts: 128
reviews: 32
2. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

Bobwen7, which cave do you think kids would like better? Was one tour shorter than the other, or did one have better formations?

Sorry to butt in here on jwr's post but I was curious to get an opinion on the Wind Cave versus the Jewel Cave in regards to kids...

Thanks!

Brownsburg-Chatham...
posts: 274
reviews: 4
3. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

As far as which one would be better for kids that is hard as well. There were more stairs to go up and down at Jewel Cave. Jewel Cave is more colourful than Wind Cave. I loved them both.

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,557
reviews: 35
4. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

We also saw both last year. As the previous poster said, both have the national park status. Jewel is the second longest explored cave in the world. I'm not sure where Wind is ranked as far as size. They are both tremendous.

Here are the differences that we found:

1. Jewel is a much more open cave. The formations are definitely more colorful. There are many stalactites and stalagmites. There is a really fascinating formation called the bacon. The name speaks for itself.

2. Wind is known for a formation called boxwork. Boxwork resembles spider webs. You will not find boxwork in Jewel Cave. It's a rare formation. I believe Wind Cave has the more boxwork than any other cave.

3. If you are claustrophobic, I would not recommend Wind Cave. We had a man on our tour who had to leave because he felt closed in. We had no problems, but this is something to consider if anyone in the family suffers from being in tight spaces. We didn't have to squat to go through the caves, but you do have to duck sometimes if you are tall (as with any cave).

4. Wind Cave is a national park, so there is an area to see on the surface. Jewel Cave is simply the cave; it's a national monument. You can view wildlife such as bison and prairie dogs on the surface of Wind Cave National Park.

Be sure to visit nps.gov to see examples of the formations and tours available at each place. We did the scenic tour at Jewel and the Fairgrounds tour at Wind. Both tours are comparable as far going up and down steps, etc. I'm sure you will have no problems. They both last about 2 hours. I hated for both to end!! The rangers do an excellent job telling everyone the history of the caves.

My daughter was 8 at the time and she loved both tours. She had no problems keeping up and the ranger at Wind Cave had her and two other children leading the tour. The rangers really cater to kids.

If you choose to see Jewel Cave, you might want to make advance reservations for your tour. We had to wait almost 2 hours to get on the scenic tour, and the visitor center is small. As I said before, there's nothing to do on the surface. I was sorry I hadn't booked in advance.

Now for the big question....if I had to choose, I would select Jewel Cave. I thought it was absolutely beautiful. The size of some of the chambers was amazing. But if you decide to see Wind, you really can't go wrong. There is no right or wrong answer.

Rapid City, SD
posts: 894
reviews: 1
5. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

I'd stick with a tour that is well lit no matter which cave you go to. You just don't see things very well with the candle light tours. Those seem to be more for a "this is what it was like in the old days" feeling.

The National Park status for Wind Cave really is because of the surface features. It has a much larger surface area than Jewell Cave. Small areas seems to be "Monuments" and bigger areas seem to be "Parks". The surface area of Wind Cave Park is sort of an extension of the southern area of Custer State Park.

denver, Colorado
posts: 74
reviews: 18
6. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

Thanks for the great post slrtravelplanner

casey

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,557
reviews: 35
7. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

You are very welcome! I hope it was helpful for you!

Mentor, Ohio
posts: 8
reviews: 32
8. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

Accomodator,

Do you think that the lantern tour at Jewel Cave is also dimly lit and you aren't able to see much?

Thanks

Pitman, New Jersey
Destination Expert
for Rapid City, South Dakota
posts: 4,557
reviews: 35
9. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

I personally think any lantern tour is dimly lit and that you won't see as much. The only caving that I have done that is relatively close to a lantern tour is when we went into a primitive lava cave in Oregon. We had flashlights, and it was very hard to see anything. For me, it wasn't enjoyable because of always having to watch your step due to rocky terrain. You can really see more in a lit cave. The lighting is a plus not only for seeing the foramtions, but also for seeing where you are going.

st. louis
posts: 109
reviews: 4
10. Re: Wind Cave or Jewel Cave?

we just went on the jewel cave exploration tour. it lasted an hour with 7xx steps. only one lady had noticeable cardio issues with the tour. the guide stops and talks along the route, so you have time to gather your breathe if needed. they offer a shorter version, were i think you just go down to the start of the cave and look at a few formations from a platform area for about 20 minutes. i would not show up expecting to take the next tour, they were running about 2 hour wait time. we ended up buying tickets for the next day and coming back. the cave is made up mainly of calcite which comes from limestone. it is neat to take the tour, but we felt that we could have seen everything you needed to with the shorter version, maybe carrying a sleeping 3 year old the entire tour took some of the excitement away from it for me. the tour guide was very knowledgeable and offered a lot of information.