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Which cave for our situation..6 yr old son..no reservations

Rockford, Illinois
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1,112 posts
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Which cave for our situation..6 yr old son..no reservations

We are somewhat interested in touring a cave while we're out in the Black Hills this summer.

Our son is 6 years old and is a little uncertain in dark places and/or new situations. If we talked to him ahead of time about what to expect, he would most likely be fine going in a cave.

We also would rather not have to make a reservation. We kind of just like to explore at our own pace and if we got really interested and busy somewhere else, we wouldn't want to have to rush through it in order to make it to our cave reservation on time. We just like a "make our own schedule, laid back" atmosphere while vacationing. Plus if we decided at the last minute not to do a cave tour, I don't want to have to worry about cancelling reservations, etc......or if we decided to do a cave tour on a different day than we originally thought.

So anyways.....are there any caves where you don't need a reservation? Another plus would be a cave that's more wide open and perhaps a shorter tour that would help our son feel more comfortable, etc.

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Rockford, Illinois
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1,112 posts
212 reviews
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1. Re: Which cave for our situation..6 yr old son..no reservations

Well I guess the part about no reservations isn't a total deal breaker. If we went for the cave tour first thing in the morning, that would solve the problem of worrying about getting back from something else in time.

South Dakota
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2. Re: Which cave for our situation..6 yr old son..no reservations

We've always preferred Jewel Cave over the other caves. The formations are more interesting. We did the 1 hr. 20 min. "Scenic" tour with three kids. This is the easiest walking tour they offer. Our kids got bored with the length of the tour, although other kids in our group seemed to be doing just fine, so it probably depends on how mellow your child is. There is a portion of the Scenic Tour where they do shut off the lights and have you stand in total darkness for awhile. Your son may not appreciate that part. There is a lot of walking and step climbing, but you stop a lot while the guide talks and the temp is cool inside the cave, which kept me from feeling sluggish. Our 4y.o. handled most of the walking. If you just want a quick taste of the cave, there's a 20 min. "Discovery" tour where they just take you down into one large room. If you go to the Jewel Cave website, there are detailed descriptions of the cave tours. Another suggestion if you want to test the waters with your child would be to tour the Big Thunder Gold Mine. It's somewhat tourist trappy,but the guides are entertaining, the tour is relatively short and there are no steps. It would be easy for you to bail if your son didn't like being underground. The gold mine tour would give him a sample of what it's like being underground. If he doesn't like the gold mine tour, I'd skip the caves until he's older.

Pitman, New Jersey
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for Rapid City, South Dakota
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3. Re: Which cave for our situation..6 yr old son..no reservations

I think the Jewel Cave Discovery Tour would be an excellent option for you to see how your son reacts. Here's a link to Jewel Cave's website.


You could try this tour, and if he likes it, you could take the longer Scenic Tour. Jewel is a great "1st time cave" as it's very open compared to some other caves.

If you want to go without reservations, I do recommend an early arrival. It's ok to not have them as long as you know you might have to wait a couple of hours for a tour if you get there mid morning/day.

I also like 3174's gold mine idea. It's a short tour and also a good way to introduce him to being underground. He might think it's neat, as you get to wear a hard hat.

4. Re: Which cave for our situation..6 yr old son..no reservations

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