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Decorah, Iowa: Ice Cave - Frozen in Summer

A 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.

Ice Cave

Ice Cave Rd, Decorah, IA
Just north of the river, on the north side of Ice Cave Rd. about a quarter-mile east of Dunnings Spring Park. Look for the gravel turn-out and maybe a small sign. Just off of the road, at the base of the bluff.
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Visitor Tips and News About Ice Cave - Frozen in Summer

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Ice Cave - Frozen in Summer

Main entrance and the road in are closed for construction, but there's a temporary, small path up and parking about a mile down by the river. I realized I forgot my headlamp by the time I got there, so I didn't want to risk going past the first crevice alone, but just walking 10 feet in you can feel the temperature drop significantly and see bits of ice. Very neat!

[Harmon, 06/07/2023]
Ice Cave

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.

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]

Ice Cave entrance.

Ice Cave

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 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 is a fantastic 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.

Ice Cave - Frozen Year Round

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]

Nearby Offbeat Places

Vesterheim Norwegian-American MuseumVesterheim Norwegian-American Museum, Decorah, IA - < 1 mi.
Viking with PieViking with Pie, Decorah, IA - 1 mi.
Bily Clocks MuseumBily Clocks Museum, Spillville, IA - 11 mi.
In the region:
Ho-Chunk Lacrosse Players Statue, La Crosse, WI - 46 mi.

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