Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Jewel Cave

Thursday September 15, 2011
Broken Arrow Campground
Custer, South Dakota


Today was even worse for cold temperatures, rain and fog.
It never got above 38 all day. 
Now that’s BRRRRR in my book.
But we’re hanging around with their promise
of a 70 degree sunny tomorrow.

So today we decided to drive up to Jewel Cave.
Doesn’t matter if it is cold and foggy there.

But the drive up was pretty tricky.
Even MORE fog than yesterday.

Foggy Custer 008


But we did make it to the top of the
curvy road and to the Visitors Center.




Jewel Cave is the second largest cave in the US
behind only Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.
They had a fabulous detailed map of the cave
on the wall of the room in which they had an
informative video about the discovery and
exploration of the cave.  The various
colors on the map indicate the levels of those
rooms in the cave.




I borrowed a wheel chair and was able to
spend the hour before our tour was to start
checking out the visitors center and seeing up
close some of the formations I would later see in the cave.






They have 4 different tours during the summer
the Scenic Tour, The Historic Lantern Tour, Discovery Tour
and the Wild Caving Tour “a strenuous
3-4 hour caving adventure” that takes you
into undeveloped sections of the cave.
This last one is for those who like to wear headlamps
and potentially crawl around on their bellies in
claustrophobically small passage ways.

They offer each tour MANY times each day
during the height of the season but after
labor day they cut both the number of different
tours and the number of times per day they are offered.
Reservations appear to be necessary all the time.
Had I been able to do it, I would have taken the
”Scenic Tour” although by the time we got there at
noon, all the times for that tour were filled up for today and
we would have had make a reservation
to come back tomorrow morning.


The Scenic Tour is their most popular tour,
takes 80 minutes and involves walking
up and down 723 stair steps.  You’d see chambers
decorated with calcite crystals and other formations.

Today we took the 20 minute Discovery Tour
which takes you to one large room of the cave.  It is the only handicapped accessible tour.
We rode the elevator down 240’ below ground



and heard the cave breathing out as our
Ranger Guide opened this door.



Now that was cool.  Both Wind and Jewel caves
”breathe” which means that based on the
barometric pressure the air in the cave is
either flowing audibly out of or into the cave.


We went out onto a metal landing and the
cave was very dimly lit.  Here are some
shots David tried to get of the ceiling of this
room while the guide talked about the
discovery and exploration of Jewel Cave.




It’s a constant 49 degrees.


The only lights were those which had been added
to highlight certain formations.  The Ranger had
to use a flashlight to show us others.
It was very dark.


We came back through the fog to Broken Arrow
to find that Jeanne and Eldy had been placed in
the spot next to us again.   They had left Sundance
the day after we did.   So here is their Phaeton parked
right next to Winnona.  I guess they’ll get to be friends too
although he’s a lot bigger than she is. 
Hope he won’t pick on her. :-)




They say the weather is clearing up tomorrow so
David went up to the office to extend our stay
another two days, through Saturday and
came back with two old Elvis Presley movies.


Ever since Graceland he’s had a new interest
in Elvis.  So the 4 of us got together around
Winnona’s TV and made fun of GI Blues,
the first movie made after Elvis got out of the Army
in 1960.  Jeannie and I weren’t too sure about this
at the start.  Eldy was in and brought his big tub
of popcorn.   He likes a LOT of butter.
David made popcorn for the rest of us.


Really sorry I didn’t get a picture of us all with
our popcorn dishes sitting around making snide remarks
about how they would get Elvis singing next.

Jeannie and I agreed that it didn’t turn out to be as
bad a movie as we feared.  Although I don’t want
to necessarily recommend that you run right out and rent it.


  1. With bad outside, a nice cave tour seems like the perfect thing to do.

  2. You sure are finding FUN things to do while you can't do things;o))

    It will be no time at all before that ankle has done its time and you are free to do other FUN things!!

    Hope David is over Elvis by January ;o)) LOL

  3. Caves- We went to Carlsbad Caverns to cool off and you went to Jewel Cave to warm up :). I recommend: Clambake, Girls Girls Girls ,Viva Las Vegas and Change of Habit- My favorites.

  4. Don't miss the Mammoth Site while you are in the area. It is wonderful.

  5. A cave!! Now that's a great way to cheer yourself up...I mean, come on. You go into a deep, dark, humid hole, and walk in a single file line for hours. Yep, instant pick me up! LOL! I'm not a big cave person, like duh!

  6. P.S. We've had crappy internet signal lately, and I'm behind on the news...what gives with your bum leg???? You ok?

  7. AAAAAkkkkkk!!!! I went through all your other posts (because that's how I roll) and FOUND IT!! It's broken. :(((( Super sad to hear about it. I don't even think you staged it to make an interesting blog read. The pics in the clinic were too convincing. Oh man, I'm bummed for you. I know how much you love to hike and run and play! Get better soon, ok?

  8. What a clever idea! Go to a cave to warm up!!

    Your popcorn with Elvis night sounds like a blast :)

  9. Lovely, lovely. I love a rocky shore -- probably because it's so different from anything I usually see. Great pictures. Stay warm! By the way, it's not exactly steamy here. Bring back 100 degrees and humid, I say! Be careful!

  10. I enjoyed that cave when I was there. I smiled at the movie and popcorn - love doing that at home...when you're back in VA, we will!! :)


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