Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Jewel Cave

In researching the Black Hills area before my trip, one of the places I wanted to take the boys was to Wind Cave. I checked online and found they did several different tours, and they took reservations. It was still a bit far out from the schedule, so I decided to wait. Guess what? I waited too long and by the time I called for reservations, they were full with a waiting list. I checked Jewel Cave, and they do not do reservations, but rather sell tour tickets on the morning of on a first come first served basis. We decided to get up early and try to get to the site by 9:00 and try to get on one of the cave tours.

We arrived on Sunday just after 9:00 and were able to buy tickets for the 11:20 Scenic Tour. (Steven was voting for the Historic Lantern Tour, which was termed strenuous and included over 600 steep steps up and several crawl spaces, but I thought the Scenic tour with ~700 stair steps up and down, all standing upright, was better for this old gal.)

We perused the visitor's center, and had a nice protein and fruit snack before our tour time, then joined the Ranger for the descent into the cave. He explained that Jewel Cave is a water carved cave of mostly sedimentary limestone. It is currently the third longest cave in the world, and second longest in the US (after Mammoth Cave in KY). They believe it may join Wind Cave, but they haven't discovered that spot yet.
The boys got to help the Ranger demonstrate Boxwork, a layer process that makes up much of the cave formations.
We saw stalactites, draperies, popcorn, flowstone and many other formations. 
This one below is called cave bacon, and it did look just like a large slice of bacon running up the wall.
When we were done, we came back to our campsite, where I took a nap and the boys gathered wood for their evening fire and S'mores. We thought about driving up to Crazy Horse and watching the laser show, but since it didn't start until 10:00 p.m., we all decided to pass. Our last evening at Echo Valley was drawing to a close, and we would head west back toward Boise the next morning.

1 comment:

  1. I have noticed that they overrate how strenuous a tour will be to weed out people with walking abilities. You would have been fine on any tour they have.