Travelers to Jewel Cave should also take time to experience life aboveground by taking a nature hike (there are two hiking trails), enjoying a picnic, or searching out the plants and animals that inhabit the rugged hills and canyon country of the Black Hills.
In the stillness of the ponderosa pine forest that blankets the Monument are mule deer, white-tailed deer, elk, porcupines, coyote, squirrels, chipmunks, and several species of birds, including golden eagles and hawks. Plants of both the prairie and the hills grow here, and in summer, wildflowers paint the landscape.
A huge wildfire burned about 90% of the Monument's land area in August 2000, and visitors today still see evidence of what is called the Jasper Fire, ranging from dead or damaged trees to plants that have come back since the blaze. Check with the visitor center or a park ranger for current trail conditions.
Canyons Trail -- This loop trail provides views of the limestone palisades of Hell Canyon and Lithograph Canyon, and offers a chance of seeing some of the deer, birds, and wildflowers that live in the ponderosa pine forest through which the trail winds. If you want to experience a part of the Canyons Trail without going the entire distance, you might try the 1.5-mile round-trip between the visitor center and the historic area of the cave. 3.5 miles RT. Easy to moderate. Access: Visitor center.
Roof Trail -- While visiting the "roof" of Jewel Cave on this self-guided interpretive walk, you'll learn how the monument's surface and subsurface resources interact. .25 mile RT. Easy. Access: Visitor center.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.