The National Park Service will be making improvements to the elevator entrance at JewelCaveNational Monument from October 15-26. In order to allow work to be completed in an efficient and timely manner, it will be necessary to modify the current schedule of cave programs.
From October 15-26, Scenic Tours will be available at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The Scenic Tour provides an opportunity to view the variety of beautiful, colorful and rare cave formations for which JewelCave is famous. This ½ mile tour is moderately strenuous, following a paved, lighted trail with over 700 stairs and lasting approximately 1 hour and 20 minutes. Discovery Talks will be available at 9:05 a.m., 10:35 a.m., 1:35 p.m., and 3:35 p.m. The Discovery Talk is a 20-minute introduction to the cultural and natural history of JewelCave that will be conducted at an alternate location for the duration of the project. This modified program enters one room of the cave and involves traveling 120 stair steps. Both tours enter and leave the cave by elevator from the VisitorCenter. The cave temperature is 49ºF. A light coat or sweater and sturdy walking shoes are recommended.
Work on the elevator entrance will involve removal of an aging wooden canopy that was constructed in the cave during the installation of the elevator shaft in the 1960s. At that time the open shaft caused unnatural cycles of freezing and thawing to occur in the cave and create an unstable condition in the rocks surrounding the opening. The canopy was installed to mitigate potential safety hazards from falling rock. Since that time the environment in the cave has returned to normal and greatly reduced the potential for hazards. Currently the deteriorating condition of the wooden canopy is negatively impacting the cave environment and visitor enjoyment.
Removal of the canopy will allow the National Park Service to better protect and preserve the cave resources and provide for a more enjoyable visitor experience. This project has been made possible through the fees paid by visitors taking cave tours. Jewel Cave National Monument is able to retain all visitor fees for accomplishing special park projects.
For more information, please contact Jewel Cave National Monument at 605-673-2288 or visit www.nps.gov/jeca.