Within the Black Hills region of South Dakota, visitors will find Jewel Cave National Monument. The cave was first discovered in 1900 by the Michaud brothers. Using dynamite they blasted an entrance large enough to enter the cave and found the jewel-like crystals. They later built a trail and a nearby lodge with the intent to make the cave a tourist attraction. Travel to the cave was difficult at the time and the region was sparsely populated. In 1908, President Roosevelt proclaimed the cave to be a national monument. When the Michaud brothers later moved away from the area they sold the land to the government.
As construction efforts continued over the years and new discoveries within Jewel Cave were made. Today, visitors to the monument can explore the cave on one of the four tours that the monument offers. These tours range from easy to strenuous and visitors will see the crystals or “jewels” of the cave as well as many stunning cave formations. Outside of the cave, there are three hiking trails that visitors can explore. Each trail provides stunning canyon views.
Tour tickets are required to enter Jewel Cave. Tours can sell out, especially over holiday weekends and during the summer months. It is advised to reserve tickets in advance or plan to get to the monument in the morning. Those planning to enter the cave should dress warmly. Jewel Cave is a constant 49 degrees, even in the summertime. While there isn’t a campground at the national monument there is a KOA and other lodging options in Custer.