Mazak Family Summer to Fall 2009 travel blog

On 16W to Jewel Cave

Remnants of 2000 forest fire

Entrance to Park

Visitor Center

Today's Weather Facts

Don on Trail

250 below the surface in cave.

Temperature a constant 49 degrees

Jewel cave is a breathing cave!

First & orginal Ranger House at Park

Walk down to orginal cave opening discovered.

Charlotte standing near insteresting rock.

Don in a rock opening.

Another opening..

Yet another, as we near the first discovered opening to the cave.

First discovered opening to the cave...

Don & Charlotte at first opening to Jewel Cave.

Walking back to Ranger Cabin

Step up to top...

Ranger Cabin

Our main goal today is to see Jewel Cave National Monument. Weather was nice in the morning but cloudy. We may get rain later this evening. We would like to go to the lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore, but it will depend on the weather. It gets cold here in the evening - upper 40's to lower 50's.

When we arrived at the park a little after 10 a.m., there were lots of cars in the parking lot. There are four or five different tours offering various lengths of time and walking distances. The ranger said the intermediate tour was booked up and wasn't available until 2:30 p.m. We did not want to wait that long and took the introductory tour at 11:35 a.m., it is less strenuous and lasts 20 minutes. This weekend all the tours are free so we lucked out!

There was a short orientation movie which gave statistics and history of those who discovered and mapped the cave. This cave is the second longest in the U.S. and in the world. It is mapped at 146.24 miles. The elevator takes you down 290 feet! The longest cave in the world is Mammoth Cave in Kentucky.

Jewel Cave was discovered by some brothers at the turn of the century. At first, they thought there would be value in the rocks since they sparkled. At that time of history, there were many gold mines discovered in the area. The cave never had any valuable gold or minerals. In 1908 President Theodore Roosevelt declared the site a national monument.

After the tour in the cave, we drove a mile down the road to see the first discovered opening to the cave. We walked the path around the mountain which was very well maintained. We met a young family from North Dakota and a gentleman from Colorado. They thought Don had a New Jersey accent!

Up on the hill, we saw the first ranger cabin in the park. It was built in the 1930's. It had three rooms - front room with fireplace, kitchen, and bedroom. The ranger told us that in 2000, a forest fire was all around it but no damage was done. The firefighters worked hard to prevent it's destruction. There were charred timbers everywhere as far as you could see. The charred timbers return ash to the ground which helps with the growth of vegetation for wildlife.

As we were getting in our car to go, a guy yelled out "Flemington, NJ." He pulled up next to us and said he was from Clinton, He is originally from Lancaster, Ohio and went to Ohio State. He said he's been in NJ ten years. His wife, who was in the car, is originally from Rapid City, SD and they come every summer to visit her family. He said he always brings one of his kids' friends from NJ on their trip and the kids cannot get over the country here.

Earlier, we enjoyed our picnic lunch in the park and now we are off to our next destination, Newcastle, WY.

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