Jewel Cave National Monument Highpoint Trip Report

Date: September 18, 2011
Author: "Xander" Carlson

Approaching the park entrance on US Highway 16 from the east you will see a sign that you are entering Jewel Cave National Monument. There will be a u-bend in the road with a small pulloff to the cliff side off of the bend. Park there. There isn't much room but you should be able to pull your car completely off the road by a few feet.

To your north will be a small canyon going up. Look for the witness marker on the cliff side on the right of the canyon. Head up to the highest point on that cliff. There is no trail, but it's hardly a bushwhack.

I left a small cairn of white rocks at the top for reasons I'll explain later. From this cairn, head directly north keeping the dead trees at the top of the high point in sight. You will pass a forest service road which is just tire tracks in the grass at this point so if it's in winter this will be no help to you.

Reach a fenceline after crossing numerous deadfall. This is the monument boundary. There is no point on this fenceline I could find that was higher than the hill I just climbed. I jumped the fence to get to the upward sloping hill to get higher than the previous hill I was at. But this should be outside Monument boundaries.

There was a forest fire here almost a decade back, so this fence was put in after that. So I don't know if that's the actual boundary or not. If it is, then this monument is not a liner at all and the highest point is the hill you first climb as you go up the canyon. If it's not, then past the fence is the liner by only a 100-150 meters or so. It's pretty close, and if you take the fenceline due south it will eventually get there to above the hill but at that point, you'd have to be outside of the monument borders as well from looking at the topo and the two hills to the south for reference.

I went to the visitor's center of the monument and all they could tell me is that the fence is the border of the monument and the national forest service. But when I asked if the fence could have been misplaced by a 100 feet or so after the fire, they just shrugged. So I'm 95% sure the hill is the highest point and not the liner if the fence and the rangers are to be believed.