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Jewel Cave National Monument offers a unique chance to descend into one of the most beautiful subterranean caves in the United States. The monument is set within sprawling Black Hills National Forest and has been welcoming visitors since 1908. As the name suggests, the walls of Jewel Cave are dripping with sparkling calcite crystals. Guided tours take you deep into the cave and offer a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the mesmerizing underground world. So far, around 200 miles of the cave network have been surveyed. This is a minuscule three percent of the estimated total length, making Jewel Cave one of the longest known caves in the world.
Planning a getaway to Black Hills National Forest? Book an RV in Custer County and you can explore Jewel Cave National Monument at your own pace. You'll love sleeping under the stars in Black Hills National Forest, with more than 30 campgrounds to choose from. With a home on wheels, you can also venture further afield to other Midwestern recreation areas such as Badlands National Park.
Guided tours of Jewel Cave National Monument are a fantastic way to learn about the unique history and geology of the cave. The 20-minute Discovery Talk takes you down an elevator and into a subterranean cavern. From here, you'll descend a metal staircase to a viewing platform that gets you up close with the cave's signature shimmering calcite crystals. The popular Scenic Tour lasts for around an hour and a half and meanders through beautifully lit passageways and chambers.
The Historic Lantern Tour is geared towards adventurous travelers and offers a glimpse of what life was like for cave explorers in the 1930s. The tour winds through half a mile of underground passages and takes you to secret caverns like the Dungeon and Heavenly Room. Armed with a hardhat and a headlamp, you'll be ready to take on the Wild Caving Tour. Be prepared to squeeze through tight openings, belly-crawl through narrow passages, and use your upper body strength to rope climb up a vertical wall.
Above ground, Jewel Cave National Monument offers a handful of self-guided hiking trails. Allow around 30 minutes to complete A Walk on The Roof Trail, which starts at the Visitor Center and takes you through a sun-dappled Ponderosa pine forest. The Canyons Trail showcases sheer limestone cliffs and wildflower-strewn meadows.
Thanks to its setting within Black Hills National Forest, there are plenty of options for RV camping near Jewel Cave National Monument. In total, the forest maintains more than 680 individual sites set across 30 campgrounds and four Ranger Districts. Comanche Park is the closest campground and offers 34 sites set among towering Ponderosa pines.
Bismarck Lake Campground is less than a 30-minute drive from Jewel Cave National Monument and offers spacious sites shaded by mature aspens. There are no electricity, sewer, or water hookups available, making Black Hills National Forest a good choice for off-the-grid motorhome camping getaways. You'll have access to either flush or vault toilets at most campgrounds, as well as water spigots in peak season. Some sites are available to book in advance, while others are issued on a first-come, first-served basis.
If you don't want to compromise on creature comforts, opt for a serviced site at Custer's Gulch RV Park & Campground. You'll also find excellent motorhome camping facilities at Custer / Mount Rushmore / Black Hills KOA.
Camping near Jewel Cave National Monument puts you in the heart of enchanting Black Hills National Forest. It occupies more than a million acres and protects a diverse ecosystem of rolling plains, windswept grasslands, and lush evergreen forests. Mount Rushmore National Memorial is the park's signature attraction, featuring the larger-than-life chiseled faces of four iconic U.S. presidents. In Custer State Park, the 18-mile Wildlife Loop Road gets you up close with one of the largest herds of free-roaming bison in North America. You'll also find excellent hiking ranging from leisurely loops to challenging day trips.
Your Jewel Cave National Monument camping adventure puts you within a two-hour drive of Badlands National Park, where you can enjoy towering rock spires, rugged canyons, and incredible stargazing. Custer is a 13-mile drive east and is a good place to find gas, groceries, and other camping essentials. Rapid City is the closest major metropolis, perched on the eastern border of Black Hills National Forest. It's a good place to stock up on supplies before you venture into the park. Rapid City also offers a huge range of RV rentals near Jewel Cave National Monument.