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MONDAY - We were in no hurry to pack up and leave camp today. As mentioned before we only have 16 miles to move today to the other side of the Black Hills National Forest.

We didn't even change zip codes! We did drive through the town of Custer, SD during today's move, but while towing THE POD there was no where we could park. We'll have to come back tomorrow for lunch.

This campsite is very similiar to the one we just left, valut toilets, trash removal and water spigots spread throughout the campsites. The two noticeable differences between campgrounds is our last site was paved and fairly level, while the one we have here is gravel and no where near level. The other difference, the last one was $12 a night and this one is only $9.50, those are both half price quotes thanks to our Lifetime Senior Pass discount.

After having lunch in THE POD we drove 6-miles up the road to Jewel Cave National Monument. They have a cave tour ticket booth set up in the parking lot and just on a whim I inquired if there were any FCFS tickets left for today, it was only 2:00PM and they don't close until 5:00, with the last tour starting at 3:40PM.

I could have sworn I heard a small chuckle escape the Rangers mouth before he told me there were none available. He then told me to come back before 8:00AM tomorrow and inquire again. I explained I already had reserved tickets for the 8:40AM tour tomorrow and he quickly asked if I would be giving them up. That answer would be a Big Fat NO!

We toured the Visitor Center and watched a very well produced 22-minute film about the discovery and ongoing exploration of the cave. We then got my Passport Book stamped and returned to the campsite.

TUESDAY - We set an alarm for 7:00AM, but awoke before it went off. We don't want to be late for our tour time because we may not be able to catch another tour today.

When we arrived at 7:45AM, a full hour before our tour, there were already a dozen or more people standing in the FCFS same day ticket line. The ticket booth doesn't open until 8:00AM and we were the only people standing in the reserved ticket line.

By the time 8:00AM rolled around there was one person who had joined us in the reserved ticket line and another 4-5 had lined up hoping to get tickets for this morning's tours.

There was a small sign stating the first available FCFS tickets today were for the 9:40AM Scenic Tour and 10:30AM for the Discovery Tour. The Discovery Tour is a wheelchair accessible tour where basically you ride the 3-story elevator down to the first room just outside the doors and listen to a 20-minute Ranger Talk about the geology of the cave before returning topside to complete the tour. It's only $6 and gives everyone a chance to experience what a cave looks like first hand.

Our Scenic Tour is a little different! We take the same elevator down to the same room, but then we begin a ½-mile loop trail that traverses some 734 stairs (thankfully most of them down) before riding the elevator back to the top. This tour takes nearly 1½-hours to complete, as there are a lot of opportunities to stop and rest and listen to the Ranger speak about the cave.



This is the very beginning of the tour DOWN into the cave.

Jewel Cave got it's name from the calcite crystals that can be found literally everywhere.

The first discovers thought these were quartz crystals, which usually means gold is nearby.

Most of these crystals are 4-5 inches thick.

Like I said, they are everywhere in the cave.


Here we found some stalactites and drapery formations among the calcite crystals.

This was probably the most beautiful and diverse section of the cave.

How about this 20' long piece of cave bacon!

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