Ice Cave - Decorah IA - Ice Cave exploration State Preserve




The Decorah Ice Cave, also known as the Decorah Ice Cave State Preserve, is one of the largest glaciers in the Midwest. It consists of a three acre piece of land on the edge of the Barbara Barnhart Van Peenen Memorial Park. This is not a commercial cave, and visitors explore it at their own risk. This cave is for experienced cavers, and is not meant for beginners to explore without an experienced guide.

The cave was gifted to the city of Decorah in 1954, and it was declared a Geological State Preserve in 1973. In 1978 it was placed on the National Register of Historical Places. Visitors to the cave say it is an amazing sight. Even in the middle of July and August the cave is about only 35 degrees, and ice is still on the walls.

Since this is not a commercial cave there generally is not anyone in the area. The entrance to the cave is well marked, and you will have to climb a worn set of stone steps to the cave entrance. Cavers can explore one hundred feet of this one hundred and fifty foot cave. There is a stop barrier where the ice on the floor begins, and since the temperature is constantly thirty-five degrees normal cave life does not exist. Along with the ice walls you will see a few fossils and water dripping, but no more.

While admission to the cave is free, there are no guides or park rangers available. Visitors need to bring their own equipment and be familiar with basic cave exploration and climbing. It is also recommended to bring knee pads, and dress for the cold temperatures. This area does not have an exact address or phone number (no visitors office), however by contacting any establishment in Decorah, visitors will be able to get directions.


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