Beneath the sun-burnt surface of South Dakota lies a stunning labyrinth of crystal, rock, and shadow.
Jewell Cave is the second-longest cave on the planet.
To date, spelunkers have charted 145 miles of echoing caverns and narrow tunnels.
Every year, highly skilled cave hunters penetrate a few miles deeper into its winding passages, yet geologists believe a great deal of Jewell Cave still remains unexplored.
What have they found? Calcite that sparkles like stars on a moonless night. Spiders made of gypsum. Boulders strewn about like children’s toys. Delicate mineral balloons. Precious treasures that tell a story millions of years old.
It’s really, really cool. (Literally—it’s cold down there. The caverns hold steady at 49 degrees year round. So don’t forget your jacket, dude.)
At Jewell Cave National Monument, you can take a guided tour of this geologic treasure chest. There’s also much to see above ground, including a 1,200-acre pine forest, more than 100 species of birds, and walking trails surrounded by wildflowers.
Did You Know:
The Jasper Fire in 2000 consumed part of the pine forest at Jewell Cave National Monument. The recovery process is now well under way, and offers important lessons in wildfire management and the healing capacity of nature.