One of the Biggest Caves in the World is Right Here in South Dakota
The State of South Dakota has some pretty famous attractions: Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, The Badlands, Black Hills, and the list goes on...
One place that doesn't get mentioned nearly enough is this 'hidden gem' in the western part of the state. And most don't know that it's actually the third-largest cave on planet earth.
- When was Jewel Cave first discovered?: The year was 1900. Prospectors Frank and Albert Michaud found a small opening in the cave and filed a mining claim on the land. Once they opened it up, they discovered many different and colorful rock formations in the gigantic caverns and named their discovery "Jewel Cave".
- Just how big is Jewel Cave anyway?: According to the National Park Service, the cave has more than 200 miles of mapped and surveyed passages. Just two years ago a team of six volunteers mapped the 200th mile of the cave and commemorated the event.
- Can I go inside?: Yes and no. Under normal circumstances, you may enter the cave with a designated guide (ranger) on scheduled tours. You are not allowed to enter the cave on your own. However, due to the ongoing COVID- 19 pandemic, all guided tours and scenic tours are suspended until further notice.
- How do I get there?: Jewel Cave National Monument is about a six-hour drive from the Sioux Falls metropolitan area. Just hop on I-90 West all the way to the town of Box Elder. After taking exit 61 and following US Highway 16 for about an hour you'll reach the township of West Custer, South Dakota, and your destination.