Decorah, Iowa: Ice Cave - Frozen in SummerA natural oddity that's kept cold by a glacier buried under the town. This is a wild cave, so bring a helmet, warm clothes, shoes with a good grip, and a designated rescuer to stay outside. Not for children or the infirm.
Visitor Tips and News About Ice Cave - Frozen in Summer
The cave is the size of a closet and about as attractive (Go to Dunning Springs waterfall if you want pretty). But the cave is cool! On a 100-degree day I ascended the stone steps and felt the temperature dropping the closer I got to the cave. They used to age cheese in it. Don't worry about bringing a jacket, you can't get in that far. I think it was maybe 10 feet to a narrow crack I couldn't climb through.[AR, 11/12/2015]
It's probably a bad idea to climb through a crack in an ice cave. Who knows how many skinny, unjacketed, frozen-solid people are on the other side?
Ice Cave - Frozen in Summer
The Ice Cave is well worth the stop if you're anywhere near by! However, I disagree with the last tip about crawling into the cave, I think a few things have changed in the past two years. When we went, we walked right in, got maybe 100 ft. before finding a dead end on one branch, and the other branch ended with bars blocking off the remainder of the cave. At that point, you would have to crawl in, but unfortunately you can't any longer.
The portion of the cave we were in did have some ice on the walls, not much, but from what I've read, there's more ice later in the summer (we were there over Memorial weekend).
At the top of the stairs to the cave, there is a little foot trail off to the left. If you follow this you will find quite a few other little cave entrances. None of these (that we found) led into the actual cave, most were really large holes into the side of the hill, but they were fun to crawl around in and explore.[Krissy, 07/29/2011]
About 12 years ago, some of my friends and I went to a cave called the Ice Cave in Iowa. The writer of the tip is right...no one is there. But we had to CRAWL on our hands and knees, and it was pitch black in there without a flashlight on. We could not even see our hands right in front of our faces. The walls are covered in ice...it is a fantastic sight...to be in the dark like that and shine a flashlight on a wall of ice. It was like looking at a giant diamond bigger than all of us. We did eventually come to an area where it was possible to stand up, and there was a hole to drop down to another area. I didn't go down to that part but a couple of my friends did. There wasn't much room for four of us to turn around and crawl back out. It was quite an adventure! I would advise taking knee pads if you decide to explore this cave.[Lindy, 02/18/2009]
July 2011: Photo added.
Just down the street from Dunnings Springs (another roadside attraction -- probably Iowa's most breathtaking waterfall) you will find a sight with a wooden plaque which describes Iowa's only ice cave!In the middle of July and August (the hottest months of the year), with the temperatures in the 100 degree range, you can walk inside the cave and touch walls covered with ice. There are no lines -- in fact, if you go there you will probably be the only ones there. But trust me, it will be worth the trip![paul hein, 08/31/2006]