Superintendent Todd Suess has announced the schedule for winter operations at Jewel Cave National Monument. The Visitor Center and park grounds will be open daily from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, except for Thanksgiving Day, December 25, and January 1. Beginning October 28 the following cave programs will be available each day: Scenic Tours will be conducted at 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.; Discovery Talks will be conducted at 9:05 a.m., 12:45 p.m., and 3:45 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. The Discovery Talk is a 20 minute introduction to the cultural and natural history of JewelCave. This wheelchair accessible program is conducted in one large room of the cave. The cave temperature is 49ºF. A light coat or sweater and sturdy walking shoes are recommended. Both programs enter and leave the cave by elevator from the VisitorCenter.
For the first time the Monument will be offering a limited number of Spelunking Tours during the winter. At 2/3 of a mile long, the Spelunking Tour is a real caving adventure. Scramble over cave "breakdown," chimney between cave walls, use a handline to climb a nearly vertical wall, and belly-crawl through tight passages. Along the way you will have the opportunity to see rare cave formations and learn about low-impact caving, caving techniques, and safety. The tour lasts 3-4 hours and is extremely strenuous. You must be 16 year of age or older to participate. Reservations are required and space is extremely limited so please call in advance for more information. Spelunking Tours are scheduled for October 28, November 11, and December 9.
For more information or to make reservations, please contact JewelCaveNational Monument at 605-673-2061 or visit www.nps.gov/jeca.