Custer, S.D. – Jewel Cave National Monument will be allowing children under the age of five to once again join the Scenic Tours, effective this Thursday, February 11. The age restriction was implemented on July 28, 2015, in response to safety concerns along the tour route. A chain-link fence has been installed in strategic locations along the tour route and around the various platforms to provide a safer environment for visitors and staff.
Superintendent Bonnie Schwartz states, “Over the past six months, considerable work and effort has been made to increase and enhance the safety measures along the Scenic Tour route. Safety is of prime importance, and we appreciate the public’s patience while we completed the improvements. The lifting of the age restriction comes at a time, when the NPS is celebrating its Centennial in 2016, and the Monument is gearing up for what we feel will be an exciting and memorable summer season.”
In 2015, 117,399 people visited the Monument, of which about 45 percent took part in the Scenic Tour. Families comprise the majority of park users, and tour popularity occurs in June, July, August, and early September.
Although the Scenic Tour is available for children under the age of five, there still is an inherent risk while visiting any natural environment. For this reason, additional safety guidance is available to accommodate youth on guided cave tours. For more information, please visit the Monument online at www.nps.gov/jeca and click on the Plan Your Visit – Safety icon or call the visitor center at (605) 673-8300.
The Monument is currently open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Guided cave tours are only offered on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays each week during the winter months.
About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 409 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov.
Bradley Block, Chief of Interpretation
Jewel Cave National Monument