Jewel Cave is located in 1,273 acres of ponderosa pine forest. Although most of the activity happens underground, there are a number of opportunities above ground too.
Several hiking trails are available. A short 1/4 mile nature trail which is called the, "walk on the roof," goes over the top of the cave with a variety of information on how the features on the surface interact with the cave underground. Although this short trail is called a walk on the roof, most of the park sits on top of Jewel Cave and another 30% of the explored tunnels are outside of the National Monuments boundaries. This easy 1/4 mile trail offers some excellent view of the Black Hills, including Lithograph Canyon.
The Canyons Trail is a four-mile loop which moves away from the more developed sections of the park. A more challenging hike, the trail follows down into accesses for Hell and Lithograph Canyon. Not only do you have opportunities to see the Black Hills, but you get to view some interesting limestone cliffs and there is outstanding opportunity to view wildlife. Most of the time this trail is pretty unused allowing for solitude. You should keep in mind that if you descend into Hell or Lithograph Canyon you will need to climb out, and should plan accordingly.
You can cut the walk short on the Canyons Trail if you stop at the Historic Area, the site where the Historic Tours begin and where a 1930 era log cabin still stands. This 1-1/2 mile section provides you with a nice walk through the area forest, and is a very easy section of the trail. Keep in mind that you will not have a lot of opportunities to be alone on this section of the trail.
Jewel Cave National Monument also offers picnic facilities. The views from this park are very nice. It also has one of the nicest book stores and gift shops in the National Park system.
Jewel Cave National Monument can offer something for everyone. Even families who have cavers and hikers can find things to do at this outstanding park. The caves are open year round, and the weather underground is always the same. Even if you are visiting the Black Hills during the winter, the Scenic Tour will almost certainly be available (road conditions permitting park access). When visiting the Black Hills of South Dakota, Jewel Cave National Monument is a must see.
Just the plain facts about Jewel Cave National Monument...