If you’re looking for a cool activity on a hot summer day, explore a cave or two! Temperatures are typically lower in caves, and we have 3 great ones to choose from!
Maquoketa Caves State Park
Maquoketa Caves is a great spot, with trails, picnic grounds and campsites also available.
Hiking trails extend through woods and along the prairie, providing access to the caves. Six miles of trails include the “Natural Bridge” which rises 50 feet above Raccoon Creek, an experimental oak savanna restoration and many areas of pristine beauty.
The caves, limestone formations and bluffs create a park unlike any other in Iowa. Dancehall Cave can be explored standing up, while others require crawling. Wear old clothes!
Before or after your hike, spread a picnic lunch on one of many tables near the parking area. A children’s play structure can be found between the campground and picnic area.
Campers can choose from electric and non-electric sites, and enjoy the use of a modern restroom and shower facility.
To get to Maquoketa Caves, take Highway 61 north from the QC to about one mile beyond Maquoketa. Turn west onto County Road Y-31. Go 6 miles and turn west onto 98th Street. This will lead you directly into the park.
NOTE: No rock climbing, repelling or mountain biking is allowed at the park. The interpretive center is open on weekends during the summer and by special arrangement with the park office.
Information: (563) 652-5833; https://www.stateparks.com/maquoketa_caves_state_park_in_iowa.html; 10970 98th St. Maquoketa, Iowa 52060
Crystal Lake Cave
Drive further north up Highway 61 toward Dubuque to visit a “living cave.” First discovered in in 1868, Crystal Lake Cave offers a guided tour of beautiful formations.
Because of stairs, strollers and other wheeled vehicles are not allowed. Visitors may bring a baby backpack or carrier for hiking to the caves but external frame backpacks (including baby carriers) are prohibited in the cave. Infants may be carried through the cave in front packs.
No pets are allowed in the cave.
Don’t forget a jacket! At 52 degrees, you’ll be chilly!
Kids can discover their own fossils and gemstones in the specialized gem mining area. Just like real geologists and archaeologists they can find their own hidden treasures.
Adults are $15 each, ages 4-11 are $7 each and under age 4 is free. Last tour departs one hour prior to closing. Please call for group tour pricing.
Extend your stay on the picnic grounds. RV parking is available, but no camping.
Information: 563-556-6451; http://www.crystallakecave.com/; 6684 Crystal Lake Cave Rd, Dubuque, IA 52003
Keep driving north to reach Spook Cave, and take an underground tour by boat!
Always 47 degrees, you’ll need a coat no matter how hot the weather above ground.
As your boat enters the base of a 90′ bluff, you’ll learn about the discovery, development and history of the natural limestone cave and area.
View stalactites and other natural formations with plenty of photo opportunities. No walking involved.
After your tour, camp or “glamp” in a cabin near the trout stream, swimming lake and waterfall.
Families with kids enjoy camping near the playground and volleyball court; across the stream are the shower facilities.
Other highlights include towering limestone bluffs, stunning fall foliage and hiking trails.
Each site and cabin has its own picnic table and fire ring for evening relaxation.
Information: 563-873-2144; https://spookcave.com/; 13299 Spook Cave Road, McGregor, IA 52157
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