What is the difference among a national monument, a national memorial, and a national park?
A national monument and a national memorial can be created by an act of the President. A national park is created by an act of Congress. Some of these have free admission with a small fee for ranger led tours like Jewel Cave, some have an entrance fee like most national parks, and some have free admission with private concessions that charge fees for things like parking, some tours, and food like Mount Rushmore.
Since our friends aren't too interested in caving, Duane and I spent our afternoon just down the road at Jewel Cave National Monument. At 180 miles long it is the third longest cave system in the world.
Besides the cave system, the Monument consists of this building, a small separate building with snack machines, and a 3.5 mile walking trail. Inside this building are a small gift shop, a small gallery of interactive displays with information about how these caves were formed and what "jewels" we would be shown on our tour, and a tour waiting area. We signed up for the Scenic Tour. With our passes, cost was $6 each. No food, water, backpacks or purses allowed.
l to r, t to b, drapery, balloon, dogtooth spar, nailhead spar, flowstone, stalagmite, soda straw, stalactite. Below are pix of these taken on our tour.
Something to think about.
How the caves were formed, if you're interested.
We rode elevators down to the cave entrance. Our guide explained that we would gather at spots where we could listen to information and take pix. Of course, at one point she turned out the lights so that we could experience total darkness. Our first gathering spot, a platform overlooking our way down.
flowstone, otherwise known as Jabba the Hut
soda straw with stalagmite Soda straws are stalactites that are hollow in the middle. Mineral-laden water drips down the hollow middle to form the stalagmite. In regular stalactites, the water drips down the outside.
flowstone with stalactites
uniquely colored drapery aptly named bacon
interesting mineral deposits
Although we enjoyed our interesting tour, we were glad to escape the 49 degree dark into the 65 degree sunshine, even though all around us we saw acres of pine borer destruction. In an effort to control the borer, forest managers are thinning the forests. Downed logs are picked up and put into piles. It seems to be working to prevent the spread of the borers.
This is what the hill above should look like.
When we returned we consulted with Brock and Leola about future plans.
Tomorrow we ride to the Badlands. You're welcome to join us.
Louise and Duane