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.

“Unbelievably AMAZING experience” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Jewel Cave National Monument

Jewel Cave National Monument
11149 US Hwy 16, Building B12, Custer, SD 57730
+1 605-673-8300
Improve this listing
Ranked #8 of 29 things to do in Custer
Certificate of Excellence 2014
Activities: Group tours/day tour, Group tours/walking tour, Hiking
More attraction details
Attraction details
Owner description: Jewel Cave National Monument is home to one of the longest caves in the world. Offering an assortment of cave formations and recreational opportunities, many visitors are truly amazed by this underground wilderness. Most impressive is the fact that exploration and discovery continue to take place at this significant natural resource. As part of the National Park Service, the monument offers four different types of cave experiences: Scenic Tour (1 hour and 20 minutes), Discovery Talk (20 minutes) Historic Lantern Tour (1 hour and 45 minutes), and Wild Caving Tour (3 to 4 hours). During the winter months, limited tour options are available. Furthermore, the monument is open Mondays through Fridays through early March. NOTE: The parking lot near the visitor center is under construction through the winter of 2015. Visitors are advised to use the shuttle service when going to and from the visitor center and follow the directional signs accordingly. Furthermore, cave tour tickets will only be made available on a first come first serve basis at the monument. Interested park guests are welcome to call the visitor center directly for planning assistance.
Columbus, Ohio
5 reviews 5 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Unbelievably AMAZING experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 30, 2011

This summer my family and I planned a trip to go to South Dakota to see some family that lives out there and to hit the Black Hills and do some sight seeing and adventuring. I also had another plan that involved a cave and an engagement ring! Unbenounced to my girlfriend Bryn she was about to go on the best cave tour of her life. She is a science teacher and we both absolutely LOVE caves. First of all the Black Hills are an awesome place to go with so much to do. One of the "jewels" of the Black Hills is the aptly named Jewel Cave National Monument. Now eventhough I had been to the Black Hills many many times I had never been to Jewel Cave since I was old enough to remember. My girlfriend had never been to SD so it was like a first time for both of us. I had a grand idea that when they turn the lights out in the cave to show you how true darkness looks (they do this on most cave tours) when the ranger flicked the lights back on I would be on one knee and ask Bryn to marry me. So when we got there I convinced her to use the bathroom as it is an hour tour or so and quickly ran inside to talk to the tour ranger for our tour to make sure they knew what I wanted to do and to make sure it was OK. I met Jason, a guy I will truly never forget. He was the Ranger that would be doing our tour and he took me back to the offices so that Bryn wouldn't see us talking just in case she came in the visitor center. Not only was he super excited to help but actually came up with a great idea for how we would do things. So needless to say we start the tour and he does a tremendous job "playing it cool" and truly was a great tour guide. So we get to the "darkroom" as I call it since I can't remember the actual name and he turns off the lights and goes through his spiel. He then turns the lights back on and convincingly says that he wanted everyone to be quite and he was going to turn the lights back off for a second so we can hear the "sounds of the cave". (Its funny because that day I wasn't nervous but my heart is racing retyping this story, hahaha) So he turns off the lights and gives me about 3 secs to get down on one knee and get the ring out and then turns his flashlight just on me! It was an AWESOME idea and worked out perfectly as we got GREAT pics that my dad took (he knew it was coming) and it really took Bryn by surprise! Then I waited for what felt like an eternity for Bryn to stop being surprised and covering her mouth and to say yes. She did say yes luckily! It was an amazing experience that although would have been great without him, with Jason's help was PERFECT! The story doesn't end there! He was accomodating enough to take a few pictures with us. We are sending some out there guys I promise we are just getting everything together! Then when we got home we realised that we had not picked up any mementos in all of the excitement. So Bryn called out there and we were AMAZED at what they sent back to us! There are truly great people working there and I will go back to Jewel Cave everytime I am in the Black Hills solely because of the people working there! The Cave is AMAZING as well :) We received a hand signed letter from them and a generous package of mementos. I highly recommend Jewel Cave to anyone! It is simply an amazing place staffed by truly AMAZING people! If you are reading this and work or have worjked at Jewel Cave thanks again so much, you will always be in our hearts for making this such a memorable experience! Nick and Bryn Rohlck (or soon to be anyway)

Visited August 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 3
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Write a Review

498 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Any
English first
Richland, Washington
Top Contributor
61 reviews 61 reviews
19 attraction reviews
Reviews in 34 cities Reviews in 34 cities
59 helpful votes 59 helpful votes
“Jewel Cave National Monument is certainly a "Jewel" to visit.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 29, 2011

Jewel Cave is a beautiful cave to visit. We had been to Carlsbad Cavern NP and Wind Cave NP and were wondering if "a cave is a cave". They are all different and beautiful in their own way. Jewel Cave seems to sparkle with it's formations. The park system has done a wonderful job with their tour. Bring a flashlight to better see the beauty of the many "jewel" like formations. Our ranger guide BethAnn was excellent, knowledgeable and seemed to love what she was doing. It is well worth the admission.

Visited September 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kansas City, Kansas
Senior Contributor
38 reviews 38 reviews
6 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Longest wait for the worst cave!”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed September 29, 2011

We've been to several state-owned and commercial caverns. In my book, Jewel Cave ranks as one of the least interesting and poorly managed caves we have ever visited. They only offer a few tours a day with approx 25 people per tour. Arriving at 11am, we were put on the 1:20pm tour. Over a 2 hour wait for a tour is unacceptable but they do take reservations (highly recommend calling beforehand). This cave mostly features large breakdown piles of rubble and nailhead spar. Tons of stairs and scaffolding/platforms guide you on your tour. Do not expect to see large stalactites or stalagmites. This is a DRY CAVE so there is not growth. My biggest complaint is how poorly the cave is lit. The cave was so dark you can barely see where you walk. Our tour guide was Mitch and was one of the most rehearsed monologue I have ever heard. No personality in his tour.

Despite being the 2nd longest cave in the world, it's a huge disappointment which could be solved by some new management, more tours, and proper lighting.

Visited September 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Dallas, TX
5 reviews 5 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
5 helpful votes 5 helpful votes
“Well worth the hike”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 26, 2011

The cave was very interesting and nothing like I expected. The Ranger guide "Tyler" was extremely informative and you could tell he loves his job. It is cold and damp so dress appropriately.

Visited September 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Redcar, United Kingdom
Top Contributor
100 reviews 100 reviews
60 attraction reviews
Reviews in 39 cities Reviews in 39 cities
61 helpful votes 61 helpful votes
“excellent cave”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 25, 2011

jewel cave is great ,big wide open cavens cost to go on the tour is $8 each and well worth it the tour is about 1hour 30 minutes and your guide is very knowledgeable,well lit inside and there is a lot of stairs to climb but the pace is easy but note it is only for the able bodied,lots to see the flow stone is strange looks like caramel, please note you can not touch anything at all.

Visited September 2011
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Travelers who viewed Jewel Cave National Monument also viewed


Been to Jewel Cave National Monument? Share your experiences!

Write a Review Add Photos & Videos

Owners: What's your side of the story?

If you own or manage Jewel Cave National Monument, register now for free tools to enhance your listing, attract new reviews, and respond to reviewers.