The Best List of Caves in Iowa
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Are there any caves in Iowa? We understand that caves are not the first thing to come to your mind when you decide to explore Iowa. However, the state has some of the best examples of caves, caverns, and cave systems. You can go for a leisurely cruise through an underwater cave or opt for a spelunking challenge if you are an experienced caver.
Whatever be your area of choice or expertise, the caves in Iowa have something to offer for everyone. Since the caves have a pleasant temperature inside, it is a great idea to enter the caves on a warm summer day to cool off!
The list of Caves in Iowa is one that you don’t want to miss. Caves are often overlooked and many people don’t take the time to visit them, but they’re well worth your time! Caves can be beautiful, with stalactites hanging from the ceiling or just a simple crawl space where you can explore for hours.
There’s also something about Indiana’s caves that makes them extra appealing when compared with other states; it could be their proximity to major cities like Chicago or Indianapolis. Whatever your preference may be, there are plenty of options for Caves in Iowa.
The Top Caves to Visit in Iowa
With over 1000 caves in her kitty, Iowa does take the cake for underground exploring. When you step into any of these caves, you will feel like entering a whole new world. One thing we must suggest is that if you are entering any of the caves in the state, then you must carry a jacket or sweater as the temperature in the caves however between 45 to 55 degrees F.
Here is the list of significant caves in the state –
- Cold Water Cave
- Maquoketa Caves
- Spook Cave
- Decorah Ice Cave
- Cave at Backbone State Park
- Ice Cave at Wapsipinicon State Park
- Ice Cave at Bixby State Preserve
- Crystal Lake Caves
All the caves that have been mentioned above are open for visitors and relatively safe to explore. All these caves offer something different in terms of experience, and we are sure you will enjoy exploring the caves in Iowa. Since some travelers look for caves that are more attuned to their interests, let’s break this down a bit into different categories.
Best Caves in Iowa
Here we have classified the caves as per different interest areas to easily find one that is more specific to what you are looking for!
Spook Caves in Iowa
The Spook Cave near McGregor has been aptly named as many people, over the years, heard strange noises in the cave. However, later these sounds were attributed to the flowing water from a nearby spring. There is still a hint of mystery surrounding this cave, and a visit to this place should be your top priority.
An underground boat tour will take you through the tubes, and the journey is magical. The Iowa cave is worth a visit, and if you come at the right time, you can witness some of the famous waterfalls in the state. The tour lasts for around half an hour, and there is a small fee attached to it. The onboard guide will take you through the intricate details of the cave, including its history and development. The cave has good lighting making it easier for you to take photos.
Bat Caves in Iowa
If you love checking out bat caves, you will not be disappointed when you are in Iowa. The state has a couple of caves that are home to a significant bat population.
Maquoketa Caves State Park
The Maquoketa Caves State Park in Iowa features a wide range of caves, including the longest public cave in Iowa – Dancehall Cave. There are a few smaller caves in the park, like Dugout Cave and Bat Passage. The Maquoketa Caves draws many tourists, mainly for its bat population. The cave acts as a perfect home for hibernating bats. Experts always advised people to visit the Maquoketa Caves without disturbing the hibernating bats.
Crystal Lake Cave
The Crystal Lake Cave was discovered near Dubuque in 1868 when the miners were drilling for lead. It was opened for public viewing in 1932. A unique feature of the crystal caves is that the floor of the main cave system typically gets wet, and visitors need to walk with care to avoid any untoward incident.
The cave maintains a temperature of 50 degrees F throughout the year, so one needs to dress and wear proper shoes to overcome the wet floor. The cave is also home to cave crickets and a couple of bats, such as cave bats and little brown bats. Once the tourist season starts, these bats sleep deep into the cave, away from any disruption caused by the tours.
Most Popular Caves in Iowa
There are a few caves in Iowa that are hugely popular among locals and tourists alike. It will be a ‘crime’ not to see those.
Ice Cave, Decorah
The Ice Cave State Preserve is renowned for the ice deposits that stay till late summer. The ice is formed inside this in winter due to the prevailing cold temperatures, and when the surface water trickles down in spring, it freezes as soon as it meets the ice.
Thus, layers of ice are formed on the cave walls of one of the largest ice caves in the Midwest. It is a lovely sight, and the ice walls are a photographer’s delight. So, do not miss it!
Wapsipinicon State Park Caves
It is a vast state park that encompasses an area of about 394 acres. It is one of the oldest state parks in the US, and it has a couple of caves worth exploring. One of these is an ice cave, and the other one is popularly known as the Horse-thief cave and is a must-see.
According to the locals, the cave was used by horse thieves from where I got its name. There is a sound trail system in place to access the caves of the park.
Natural Caves in Iowa
Iowa has an abundance of natural caves, and we will focus on the most popular ones!
Cold Water Spring State Preserve
The Cold-Water Spring State Preserve is a nature reserve located in Winneshiek County. The preserve has a spring that flows out of Cold-Water Cave. It is an extensive cave system with 16 miles of passageways, making it the most elaborate cave system in Iowa.
You should keep in mind that the cave has no lights inside and the conditions are a bit slippery as the floor remains wet. This cave is not for casual tourists but experienced spelunkers.
Bixby State Preserve
Located in NE, Iowa, the Bixby State Preserve is a quiet and wooded park with a fair share of creeks and rivers. The Park has facilities for many activities like fishing and hiking, but the area is better known for the ice cave near the park entrance. It was discovered by miners who were digging there for lead. The cave has a huge amount of ice inside though the exact quantity is not known.
Salt Caves in Iowa
People have started to realize the exposure to salt can have excellent therapeutic properties. Many who have spent time in a salt cave have reported that they have an easier time breathing and the whole experience is relaxing.
Total Rejuvenation, Cedar Rapids
The Total Rejuvenation is a popular multi-purpose therapy spot renowned for its relaxing salt therapy and cryotherapy sessions. Once you are in Iowa, it is good to visit them and enjoy a rejuvenating session.
Coachlight, West Des Moines
Coachlight is easily one of the largest and reputed salt caves in Iowa. They offer a range of services for skin and health, and both tourists and locals come here to treat themselves to a relaxing session of salt therapy.
As you can tell, the state of Iowa has a lot of caves to explore. Make certain to always be safe and prepared before entering any cave so you can make your cave experience a good one!
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