Shoshone Ice Caves
Out in the blasted, treeless region that brought you Craters of the Moon National Monument lies Shoshone Ice Caves. Visitors are greeted by a looming dinosaur statue, ridden by a hairy caveman. A three-story high Native American, Chief Wasakie, known for his friendliness to the White Man, watches your car while you take the tour.
In the gift shop, vintage postcards of a little girl ice skating point out that "even if the outside temperature reads over 100 degrees," the cave remains a chilly 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
Head out the back of the gift shop down the rocky trail to the cave. But first grab one of the "courtesy coats" -- several dozen tattered jackets beyond Goodwill donation status, nonetheless warm enough for the excursion. On your way into the crater, you pass statues of prehistoric peoples -- "Ice Cavemen."
Crazed overdevelopment and a poorly placed access tunnel melted the entire cave in the early 1940s. The Robinson family acquired the land in the 1950s. Russell Robinson studied the caverns, charted the air flow through the passages, and restored its icy state in 1962. Note, though, that the door into the cave must be kept shut during the summer, or the whole place may melt.
After passing through the door in the sinkhole, you follow several hundred yards of wooden walkway a few inches above the ice. Yesteryear's elf dioramas have been removed, and there's not a sign of the ice skating girl. It is quiet, barren, and cold.
Shoshone ice caves makes no claim to being beautiful in the manner of its more grandiose commercial peers, such as Luray or Carlsbad. Its sole attraction is the weird ice thing, and the relative scarcity of kid-friendly stops out here.
Legend has it that the Indian Princess Edahow was buried in the ice-mass within the cave, and waits patiently to reemerge. Let's hope some summer temp guide doesn't forget to close the door.