Deep below the surface of the Black Hills, you’ll find another underground wilderness--one filled with calcite jewels, sparkling stalactites and hidden caverns. In fact, of the 72 known calcite crystal caves in the world, 68 of them are located in the Black Hills. While Black Hills caves comprise the second longest chain of cavern systems on the planet, many of them are still considered “wild caves” and are only being explored by professional spelunkers and geologists.

However, there are seven caves open for tours, two of them are part of the National Parks Service and just minutes from Custer.

Jewel Cave National Monument is approximately 15 minutes west of Custer. Adorned with calcite jewels, Jewel Cave is the third longest cave in the world and it soon could be the world’s longest! Spelunkers and researchers continue cave exploration and map an average of three additional miles every year. Air flow in the cave indicates there are a lot more passageways to explore.

Wind Cave National Park is also one of the world’s longest and most complex caves. Rare intricate boxwork and the gusty winds are highlights of this national park. Both national caves are open year-round and offer ranger guided tours.

Things to Remember about Visiting Caves

  • Cave tours vary in physical difficulty. However, Most public tours are geared to accommodate all types of visitors with a variety of physical capabilities.
  • Temperatures in the cave are much colder than on the surface. Bring a light jacket for comfort.
  • Black Hills’ cave environments are fragile. Natural oils from hands can actually kill parts of the intricate frost work, crystals and boxwork. Food, drink and gum chewing are strictly prohibited on cave tours.

Caves to Tour:

Jewel Cave National Monument

Location: 11149 US Hwy 16, Bldg. B12, Custer, SD
Phone: 605-673-8300

Rush Mountain Adventure Park-Home of Rushmore Cave

Location: 13622 Hwy 40, Keystone, SD
Phone: 605-255-4384

Wind Cave National Park

Location: 26611 US Hwy 385, Hot Springs, SD 
Phone: 605-745-4600



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