The Visitor Center At Jewel Cave National Monument
- Date Visited: August 2021
- Address: Custer, SD 57730
- GPS: 43.72977, -103.82934
- Phone: (605) 673-8300
- Hours: Varies By Season
- Price: Free
- Restrooms: Yes
- Trash: Yes
The visitor center at Jewel Cave National Monument is the place to go to learn everything you need to know about this natural wonder.
The visitor center is closed each year for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Days. Their hours vary greatly depending on the season. In the off season (usually mid-September to mid-May) they are open Wednesday through Saturday 8:30 am to 4:30 pm. The rest of the season they are open daily 8 am to 5:30 pm.
You can call the center to confirm their current hours.
There is actually a ticket booth to purchase cave tour tickets before you reach the visitor center.
All cave tours at the monument our ranger or volunteer guided only. Advanced reservations are highly recommended during the busy season, because tour times and group size are limited. Scenic Tour and Discovery Tour tickets can be reserved at recreation.gov, but Historic Lantern and Wild Caving tours cannot be reserved.
Tour tickets are also sold on a first-come, first-serve basis on the day of the tour. We got there about 20 minutes before they opened and waited in line with no problem, but it was later in the season. Tours that are available and their times vary throughout the season. Get more information on all the tours here.
We didn’t have much time so we only did the Discovery Tour. It was short and only encompassed one massive room in the cave. If you have the time I would highly recommend taking one of the other tours to see more of the cave. That is our plan next time through.
If you end up having to wait for a tour the 1/4 mile Roof hiking trail loops around the visitor building and takes you through the ponderosa pine forest. We also hiked the longer 3.5 mile Canyons Loop Trail which winds you through some canyons, meadows and forests.
If you don’t like to hike then stroll down and check out the exhibits in the visitor center.
Though it may be on the small side, they still have some very cool displays. Multiple exhibits cover the formation of the cave and the critters who call it home. There is also information provided on all the exploration that has been done inside Jewel Cave.
There is a small gift shop stocked up with a variety of souvenirs. Rangers are available at the information desk to answer any questions you may have about the park. This is where you can also pick up hiking maps and brochures on the monument. Get your passport stamped here too.
The 22-minute film, Jewel Cave National Monument: Discovery in the Darkness, is also available for viewing at the Jewel Cave Visitor Center. Ask at the information desk if you would like to see it.
Restrooms, trashcans and water are available at the facility. The large parking lot can facilitate any size vehicle and there are picnic areas available to hang out at. If I remember right there isn’t any cell phone service here, but don’t quote me on that.
The visitor center is a great location to learn about Jewel Cave National Monument and get all the information you might need for your adventures during your visit. I can’t wait till our next visit and a much more in-depth cave tour.