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15 Ice Caves to Explore in the U.S.

Naturally formed in limestone caves or lava tubes, ice caves are a wondrous marvel. Throughout the U.S., you can find many ice caves, some in splendor year-round while others only appear during the winter months. Here are 15 beautiful ice caves to explore in the United States.

Bandera Volcano – Grants, New Mexico

A collapsed lava tube, this ice cave has formed and changed over the past 3,000 years. The one thing that hasn’t changed is it stays at a temperature of 31 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. To visit this 20-foot-thick mass of ice, take the easy ¼-mile-long trail. No reservations are required, but the cave and volcano are closed November 1-March 1. The general admission rate is currently $14 per person for visitors ages 13 and up. For children ages 5-12, admission is $7 per child, and children under five are free. 

Big Four Ice Caves – North Cascades, Washington

Close to Seattle, the Big Four Ice Caves formed from under an avalanche chute. In the shadow of Big Four Mountain, ice stays year-round. A 2.3-mile round trip hike on a boardwalk and crushed gravel, the snow melt, and high avalanche danger mean these caves are only enjoyed from afar. Your leashed pup can enjoy you on this hike. There is a $5 a day usage fee. 

Bixby Ice Cave – Bixby State Preserve, Iowa

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Image by Mario Tama

The hike to this ice cave is popular in summer. Ice builds up along the 0.5-mile out-and-back trail, and you can see mist billow from the closed-off entrance to this former mine. From the picnic area, you cross Bear Creek, travel through the forest, and go up some stairs to the cave. In the winter, the road is not maintained, so it adds 3.5 km each way to the hike. 

Decorah Ice Cave State Preserve – Decorah, Iowa

The Decorah Ice Cave is at the edge of Barbara Barnhart VanPeenen Memorial Park. Find ice here from January through August. Visit and hike at your own risk, and keep in mind that recent rock slides and movement have closed off most of the cave. The cave is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

Eben Ice Caves – Upper Peninsula, Michigan

Extremely cold temps and slow snowmelt over the edge of a cliff form these “caves.” It’s an easy 0.75-mile hike through a farmer’s field and onto the formations to visit the Eben Ice Caves, sometimes called the Rock River Canyon Ice Caves. Admission is free, and January through the beginning of March is the ideal time to visit. Show your support by purchasing a snack and hot drink at the concession stand. 

Grottos Trail – Aspen, Colorado

The 0.6-mile Grottos Trail hike just outside of Aspen is a popular attraction with ice in the grotto caves year-round. The moderate trail takes you by the Roaring Fork River and the erratics—two boulders trapped on a knoll of granite from a glacier that melted 18,000 years ago. Climb down into the grotto for an experience like no other. Pups can join in on this hike. 

Guler Ice Caves – Trout Lake, Washington 

Once supplying ice to the state for food storage, the Guler Ice Caves stay at a temperature of 32 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year. The 650-foot-long lava tube features four sections where frozen stalagmites and stalactites hang down from the ceiling. Drive and park near the cave in non-winter months, or from December to the end of March, you can snowshoe, ski, or hike to the cave for 2 miles roundtrip from Atkisson Sno-Park. You need a permit to park at Atkisson Sno-Park, and there is a $5 a day usage fee to visit. 

Ice Caves Trail – Moore, Montana 

An 11-mile round trip hike with over 2,000 feet of elevation gain takes you past natural wonders and incredible views. Access the 100-foot-wide ice cave, weather dependent, throughout the year with proper gear. You and your leashed pup can enjoy views of the Snowies, Grand Teton Range to the south, as well as the provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan on clear days. The trail also takes you by a cave called the Devil’s Chute.

Ice Mountain – North River Mills, West Virginia 

Once a place where children would grab ice to make lemonade, the fragile area on Ice Mountain can now only be visited by private tour. The Nature Conservancy bought the land and offers small tours of the 150-acre area on Saturdays throughout most of the year. A 2.5-mile moderate hike takes you to the cave and to an overview area. 

Mendenhall Glacier Ice Caves – Juneau, Alaska

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Image by Mark Olsen

The Mendenhall Ice Caves are inside the 12-mile Mendenhall Glacier via the West Glacier Trail. The blue hue mesmerizes visitors as the caves continue to change. Make the 4.5-mile trek on the West Glacier or a 5-mile trip via canoe/kayak. We recommend a guide. Tours generally run from July through September. 

Munsing/Sand Point – Grand Island National Recreation Area, Michigan

In the sandstone bluffs above Lake Superior, ice forms in the cracks and crevices. This creates icicles and ice curtains some 20-50 feet tall and hundreds of feet wide. The Sand Point area is the best for viewing. Hike on the road from Munsing Falls or Sand Point. Bring spikes or other traction. There is a $5 day usage fee. 

Niter Ice Cave – Grace, Idaho

More of a roadside attraction, the lava tube Niter Ice Cave has had many purposes through the years. A hiding area for John A. Dalton and his family, a place to store food and gather ice for early settlers, and a place for secret dances are just a few of its historical purposes. Now, families can tour the cave with year-round ice after a short walk down a path to the entrance of the cave. For less than a quarter-mile of walking, you can explore the cave at your own risk with handrails and a designated walkway. It goes back 1,800 feet and is 14 feet high and 24 feet wide. Bring a light source with you. 

Rifle Ice Caves – Rifle, Colorado

Forming in the winter months between December and February, the ice caves in Rifle Mountain Park are a sight to see. Sometimes lasting until June, weather permitting, there are four ice caves to explore: Ice Palace, Soul on Ice, Stone Tree, and The Final Curtain. A 0.75-mile round trip hike on the Koper Trail takes you to the first two caves—the Ice Palace and Final Curtain. After climbing in and around the caves, continue to the two smaller caves—Soul on Ice and Stone Tree. There is a $5 parking fee to visit, and leashed dogs are welcome to visit too.

Sam’s Point Preserve – Minnewaska State Park, New York 

A 3.3-mile out-and-back trail takes you to the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves at Sam’s Point Preserve. Rock steps and ladders take you down into the corridors with icicles and even walls covered in ice. The trail is open seasonally. Parking reservations of $10 are required for weekends and holidays from May 1 through October 31. Reservations can be made online.

Shoshone Ice Caves – Shoshone, Idaho

From May to September, visit the Shoshone Ice Caves via guided tour. Ice 17 feet thick can be found in this 4.5-mile laval tube that was created about 24,000 years ago. To get to the cave, which was once used by Olympic skaters for training in the 1900s, you must hike ¾ mile on a path through the lava fields, down 80 stairs, and across a suspension bridge, taking you 100 feet below. The cave stays at 28 degrees Fahrenheit year-round. Adults are $12 to visit, kids 4-12 are $10, and children under four are free. 

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