Yes, yes there is an Ice Cave in Iowa. I know the concept of a cave in Iowa blew my mind too! When I think of Iowa I think of never ending corn fields and turkey farms. Never caves or rolling hills. It turns out that northeastern Iowa is filled with rolling hills and is known to have a cave or two.
Originally we wanted to tour the Laura Ingles Wilder Museum in Bur Oak Iowa. Well we got there a little too late and the museum employee turned us down. Well actually she turned 10 people down for the tour. Since that plan was foiled my Dad asked me “get on that Google machine of yours and see what there is to do. I want to see something.” Google machine? Ha! That man cracks me up. Google told me that Decorah was home to Iowa’s only Ice Cave and it was just a few miles down the road. The Ice Cave does not have a physical address, so when you go just punch “Ice Cave Road, Decorah IA” into your GPS and it will get you there in one piece.
The Decorah Ice Cave is one of the largest caverns containing ice in the Midwest, and is famed due to the rare ice deposits that can be seen and felt during the late summer months. The cave itself was formed in 450-million-year-limestone and dolomite. The ice formation is created when the chilly air of winter enters the cave and lowers the rock wall temperature. When spring thaw occurs, surface water seeps into the cave and freezes upon contact with the still-cold walls, and reaches maximum thickness in June. The Ice Cave is not a commercialized tourist attraction and you explore the cave at your own risk.
It was very easy to find. As in we drove right by the sign and had to make an illegal U turn. Hey it happens and at least I did not get caught or cause an accident. There is a very small parking lot and a picnic area at the base of the hill. A steep set of stone steps leads you to the cave entrance. As you climb the stairs you will notice a drop in air temperature, it was much colder near the cave than it was in the parking lot.
I was the brave one in my party and I wanted to go inside the cave. I went about 25 feet in and boy was it refreshingly cold. My mom and I did not spot any ice at the entrance, oh well it was still cool. My Dad did not go into the cave proclaiming “that’s shale, that is unstable! It could cave in on you!” Armed with my iphone flash light app I was trying to see further into the cave when my dad broke the silence and yelled. “If you go in there, throw me the keys I want to be able to get home.” To his surprise the car keys came flying at his feet. Seeing that I was in flip flops and not prepared to climb around on my knees I bid adue to the cave and trucked out of there.