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.
Location: 11149 US Hwy 16, Bldg. B12, Custer, SD
Location: 13622 Hwy 40, Keystone, SD
Location: 26611 US Hwy 385, Hot Springs, SD