Ultimate Guide to Cherney Maribel Caves, Wisconsin (Tours, Pricing, History, Map)
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The Cherney Maribel Caves is an enjoyable part of the Niagara Escarpment near the village of Maribel. The 75-acre splendor offers a wide variety of rock formations, trails, caves, and cliffs. It is an important stop for geology fans as a significant part of the topography was formed through glacial activity.
Cherney Maribel Cave, Wisconsin
Cherney Maribel Caves is a perfect place for families. The kids get immense opportunities for adventure and learn many things about the ecology, history, and glacial activities of the place.
History of Cherney Maribel Cave
Cherney Maribel Caves County Park is a significant geological area that came into existence mainly due to glacial activity. Millions of years of deposits and change have forced the glaciers to wear down the land surface, exposing an underlying solid mass of rock called Niagara Dolomite. This revealed the sinkholes and crevices, allowing the water to enter the caves easily. When the glaciers melted, the rushing water enlarged the existing caves and filled them up partially with gravel and silt as the water receded. The rushing water also managed to carve the river valley, and frost action loosened the rocks from the cliff face, due to which many cave entrances got partially closed.
In 1892 the first cave was discovered on the property of Henry A. Alrich, which Charles Steinbrecher soon purchased. For many decades, tourists came here to see the caves. The property changed a couple of hands before finally being sold to Manitowoc County, becoming the first Manitowoc County Park. Cherney Maribel Caves are now one of the five ‘show caves’ in Wisconsin. Although the first cave was found way back in 1892, further excavations have revealed more caves, and the total now stands at eight.
Geological Cave Formations in Cherney Maribel Cave
Maribel Caves County Park opened in 1963, but the caves were founded 21 years later. Visitors can view the beautiful dolomite formations while walking the trails, and these are part of the Niagara Escarpment. Four caves were found after the primary excavations, but there are eight known caves today. Unfortunately, a few of these caves have been grossly damaged as many people broke off many natural formations and took them away from the cave.
Many formations like stalactites have been lost due to this vandalism. Since the stalactites grow only by an inch every year, many of those formations were around five inches long when they were broken off. The Maribel New Hope Cave has some of the best formations, but they too are in the best of health. However, it has brilliant examples of stalagmites, helictites, and beautiful formations known as cave bacon.
Wildlife in Cherney Maribel Cave
Cherney Maribel Cave is known for its diverse range of flora and fauna. One would come across many species of birds on his way to the caves, such as blackburnian warbler, winter wren, yellow-bellied flycatcher, and solitary vireo. Many bats have made these caves their homes, and don’t be surprised if you find them hanging from the ceiling while touring the caves.
Is Cherney Maribel Cave Haunted?
Many people confuse Cherney Maribel Cave with Cherney Hotel, named after the Maribel limestone caves. The latter was completely engulfed in fire in 1985, and the building was ultimately abandoned. There were reports that the hotel site became haunted, but there are no reports to suggest that Cherney Maribel Caves is haunted.
How Big is Cherney Maribel Cave?
The Cherney Maribel Caves County Park comprises a total area of 75 acres.
Cherney Maribel Cave Tours
This cave system is a compilation of many caves such as Coopers Cave, Staircase Cave, Tunnel Passage, Pancake Cave, Cave of Treasures, and Spring Cave. You can crawl through some of them while others are virtually inaccessible. Some caves like Maribel New Hope Cave and Tartarus Cave System are only open at certain times of the year for tours.
Maribel New Hope Cave is the largest cave in Manitowoc County and the most easily accessible even for families with children. There are walking passageways and electric floodlights, always making the caves well-lit. You will witness stunning geological formations when you pass through the cave passages. Both experienced, and novice hikers can enjoy this experience.
Free guided tours are available for this cave on the 3rd Sunday of every month between May and October. When you take a tour of the cave, you will notice the white coloration of the cave ceiling, which is known as Moon Milk. It is a living organism that is said to have antibiotic properties. The interior of the cave system is littered with bat bones and salamanders.
Some other caves like the Cave of Treasures pose a unique challenge for visitors. It is one of the recent discoveries of the cave and is placed beyond the Tartarus Cave System. There is a 3 ft high entrance with over 70 ft of passages requiring the explorers to go on their hands and knees. It won’t be a problem for children, but families can explore the other areas.
Most of the caves are open throughout the year for exploration, and Kid’s Passage is one such. You will find youngsters walking through the cave with flashlights or with the help of cellphone flashlights. It is a narrow cave, but some adults can fit in too.
The Spring Cave remains closed to the public, but water flows from the entrance and empties itself into the West Twin River. The water is said to be full of health benefits as it has a high concentration of magnesium.
Cherney Maribel Cave Tour Prices and Discounts
Guided Tours of the New Hope Cave are free, but donations are always welcome so that improvements can be made to the park. The tours are provided by the Manitowoc County Parks Department and Wisconsin Speleological Society.
Is Cherney Maribel Cave Cold?
The temperature inside the New Hope Cave stays at 55 degrees F throughout the year, which means you may carry a light jacket with you. When you are entering the cave, do carry a flashlight with you.
What to Wear?
You can wear loose, comfortable clothes but wear a pair of decent walking shoes as you will be climbing steps, rocks, and walking over wooden bridges.
Cherney Maribel Cave Hours
The County Park and a few of the caves are open every day from 7 am to 5 pm on each day of the week. The Maribel New Hope Cave remains available for visits from May to October on the 3rd Sunday of every month.
What to Do at Cherney Maribel Cave (Beside Tours)
After the cave tours are over, you can spend quality time at the County Park. It has a playground, picnic areas, and hiking trails. The restroom facilities are available near the parking area, and there are several biking trails too! The trails can be found along the cliff line, which runs through the uplands and lowlands, and there are also some trails above the cliff line. It will not be challenging to navigate the rugged areas as a staircase system has been built, which helps to give you better access.
The cave is also home to Maribel Caves Hotel, built in 1900. The building got damaged in 1984 due to a devastating fire. The remains of the building can be seen from the park limits.
Best Time to Visit Cherney Maribel Caves
The best to visit Cherney Maribel Caves is from May to October, as the New Hope Cave opens for tours during that period. You can come here any time of the year as most other caves remain open.
How to Get to Cherney Maribel Cave
Cherney Maribel Caves County Park is along with County Highway R (US Highway 141), and the park is just a mile north of Highway 147. When you are coming by car, you can access the park via the I-43’s Exit No 164, labeled as Maribel.
Hotels near Cherney Maribel Cave
There are some great options to stay near Cherney Maribel Caves, such as Par5 Resort (nearest), Lighthouse Inn, and Baymont by Wyndham Manitowoc Lakefront.
Places To Stay Nearby
Cherney Maribel Cave Fun Facts
- The Maribel Caves are free to explore.
- There is no separate cost for the guided tour of the New Hope Cave.
- The guided tours for the New Hope Cave are available only on the 3rd Sunday of the month between May and October.
- People are encouraged to donate for the tours of the New Hope Cave.
- Cave of Treasures is the most recently discovered cave by the Speleological Society of Wisconsin.
- There is enough park signage that prevents you from entering inaccessible or prohibited areas.
Cherney Maribel Cave Details
- Length: total area of 75 acres
- Time Recommended: Full Day
- Trail Type: Loop
- Difficulty: Easy
- Kid-friendly: Yes
- Dog-friendly: Allowed but must be kept on a leash
- Fee: Free
- Hours: Dawn to Dusk, but New Hope Cave is open from 10 am to 3 pm.
Download our Cherney Maribel Cave Guide (Unofficial) HERE:
Visiting Cherney Maribel Cave
Do you need more information before visiting Cherney Maribel Cave? Call (920) 683-4185 or email them through the form for an information packet.
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