North American Ice Caves

North American Ice Caves
Imagine a cave so deep and dark that ice remains inside year round. Even in the middle of summer, air cooled by underground glaciers gusts from the cave's mouth, providing natural air conditioning. Adventurous spelunkers and experienced cavers will find diverse types of ice caves dotting the North American continent.

Eastern United States

Some of the best ice caves in the eastern United States are the Ellenville Fault Ice Caves in New York's Sam's Point Dwarf Pine Ridge Preserve.

The Nature Conservancy, the property owner, describes the caves as "deep and very narrow fissures and crevasses in the Shawangunk conglomerate bedrock that retain winter ice and snow through much of the summer, resulting in a wonderfully cool microenvironment."

According to the National Park Service, the ice caves formed in fault debris from "the largest known exposed fault system in the United States." Access the caves via the Nature Conservancy's visitor center.

ENY Conservation Office

195 New Karner Road Suite 201

Albany, NY 12205



Midwestern United States

The Decorah Ice Cave State Preserve is located in Decorah, Iowa. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources claims that the ice caves on this 3-acre preserve are among the largest known ice caves in the Midwest.

The cave itself extends into the limestone bluff to 120 feet. After a typically ice-free first 10 feet, a 30-foot ice-covered slope leads further into the cave. In most years, ice remains in the cave well into summer. The caves are located east of Decorah on Ice Cave Road.

Iowa DNR

502 E. 9th St.

Des Moines, IA 50319-0034


Western United States

In southern Idaho, near the Wilson Butte Cave, archaeologists have uncovered seven ice caves formed from lava tubes. The caves angle deep into the ground where some of the cave's sections drop to temperatures below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

According to the U.S. Department of Interior, the Idaho ice cave discovery represents the first documented use of ice caves as "freezers" in North America. The seven ice caves are located northeast of Twin Falls. Contact the Bureau of Land Management for exact locations.

BLM Idaho State Office

1387 S. Vinnell Way

Boise, Idaho 83709



Article Written By Bryan Hansel

Bryan Hansel is a freelance photographer and kayaking guide who began writing in 1993. His outdoors articles appear on various websites. Hansel holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and religion from the University of Iowa.

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