The Best Caves in Wisconsin, USA: Complete List

This post may contain affiliate links. By purchasing products through these links, I may earn a small commission at no additional cost to you. If you would like to learn more, please read this Disclaimer for details.

Beware: You should never explore wild caves alone or without proper gear. Consider getting in touch with a Grotto of the National Speleological Society at or a qualified cave club. These groups are skilled and will train you. Without sufficient knowledge, preparation, and equipment, cave exploring can lead to serious injury or death.

Wisconsin has a diverse geography, much of the lands dramatically affected by glaciers back in the last Ice Age. When Europeans settled in the 19th and early 20th centuries, they brought much German American and Scandinavian culture, which endured to this day. While known for Lake Michigan, where much of its population resides today, Wisconsin also features over a dozen caves worth checking out on your next trip.

It’s not recommended, and probably not even possible, to see all of them in one visit. But there are a few here that you will definitely want to add to your bucket list.

Let’s take a look at the best caves Wisconsin has to offer.

Apostle Island Sea Caves

The Apostle Island Sea Caves were formed over millennia, as waves chiseling away at the shoreline throughout the islands. The arches, chambers, and passageways that exist today were gradually shaped and are still changing to this day.

If you go, try to go during the summer. The natural lighting against the red rocks with the blue waters is going to wow you. Plus, if the water is calm, you can go kayaking into the deeper regions of the caves, undeterred by the often tumultuous waves at Apostle Island.

In February, an ice bridge sometimes exists as the lake surface freezes over, connecting Sand Island to the mainland. If the conditions are just right, you can go exploring in the ice caves. Formations during this time of year change drastically from day to day, so you never know what you might get to see.

An image shows sunlight penetrating the mouth of one of the Apostle Island Ice Caves in Wisconsin.

Cave of the Mounds

The Cave of the Mounds is Wisconsin’s best, or perhaps second best cave. It was discovered in 1939, and has been open to the public since 1940. In addition, it’s been recognized as a World Heritage site and National Natural Landmark.

Tours are offered daily from 9 AM to 5 PM, though visitors can elect for a self-paced tour. There’s a wide array of colorful crystal formations, with artificial light contributing to an unforgettable view. Signs explain the science and history.

The cave is a total of about 1690 feet (515 m), and the tour covers about 1100 feet (335 m).

Something unique about this cave is that there was no natural opening for millions of years. No animals such a bats or coyotes were ever able to make their way inside, leaving this massive sinkhole undisturbed by just about everything but time.

Cave Point County Park

Cave Point County Park is revered by adventurists of all backgrounds. Whether you’re a diver, caver, photographer, swimmer, hiker, or any other outdoors type, this might easily be your favorite site in the state.

Back in 1943, the park was first established, and now is visited by 400,000 people per year.

Kayak companies offer tours, and divers are welcome to venture into the underwater caverns, at their own risk.

At Cave Point, dozens of underwater caverns lay in hiding, invisible from the surface. See more in this video below.

Cherney Maribel Caves County Park

These caves are a part of Cherney Maribel Caves County Park, a 75 acre area that owes its existence to glacial activity over millions of years. As these glaciers exposed the rock underneath the surface of the land, sinkholes formed, and the water rushed into them.

This water carved the river valley, loosening rocks and even flooding some caves to the point of no longer allowing access inside.

These Wisconsin caves were sold to Manitowoc County in the early 1900s, and there are now eight separate caves available for the public to explore.

Some of the wildlife includes birds like the yellow-bellied flycatcher and the solitary vireo. Bats live here too, and will likely be on display during your tours.

A map of Cherney Maribel Caves County Park in Wisconsin.

Crystal Cave

Crystal Cave is the longest cave in the state of Wisconsin, and one of the more popular caves in general. Back in 1881, William and George Vanasse discovered it while chasing a small animal in the woods. When they discovered the hole, they returned the next day to go exploring. At the time, it was known as Sander’s Corner Cave, until several decades later.

Henry A. Friede developed and commercialized the cave from 1941 to 1957, and since then it has exchanged ownership several times. Now, the site has been turned into a family-friendly experience, called Crystal Cave Adventure Park.

At Crystal Cave Adventure Park, they have arranged a one-hour walking tour for all ages, in conjunction with several other activities for everyone to enjoy. These include gemstone panning, nature trails, and even mini golf.

Crystal Cave Adventure Park also offers a large selection of rocks at their shop, in addition to educational children’s items and showcase jewelry.

An image shows the long walkway up to a higher level of Crystal Cave.

Devils Island Sea Caves

Devils Island is one of the 21 islands that make up the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It’s the furthest northern point in the state, and if you plan on visiting the Apostle Islands, you must include Devils Island in your trip.

A historic lighthouse oversees the region, and you can easily book a private tour via boat. During the tour, you get to paddleboard, kayak, and learn about the history of the Apostle Islands.

There is an Evening Grand Tour as well, which is highly recommended. The natural beauty of the Devils Island caves is unlike anything else in the state of Wisconsin.

Devils Island Sea Caves are shown here, with red stone contrasted by clear turquoise waters and natural lighting illuminating it all.

Eagle Cave

Eagle Cave is Wisconsin’s largest onyx cave, and offers dozens of activities for tourists and cavers alike.

The cave itself has four separate levels, with over 3000 feet (914 m) of passageways. Cavers are permitted to go exploring to their hearts content, provided that they are accompanied by at least one buddy. You can also purchase a map at the gift shop for a better guide when you go exploring.

The staff at Eagle Cave offers a more robust program for youth groups, so if you are coming with a school group or some other community, you are in luck. They provide complete information about their exploratory program on their site at

Some fun activities that you can enjoy here include sledding, geocaching, ice skating, and shore fishing.

A map of Eagle Cave in Richland County shows all the passageways and various sections of the cavern.

Irvine Park Cave

The Irvine Park Cave is a small man-made cave, where a previous owner carved out a larger hole from the previous one.

The cave is about 20 feet long, and has natural springs running through it. However, there’s simply not much to do there, besides learn a bit about the history around the park.

While there isn’t much to it, we decided to include it just to make our Wisconsin caves list complete.

An image of the mouth of the Irvine Park Cave, surrounded by greenery and a dirt path.

Kickapoo Indian Caverns

The Kickapoo Indian Caverns were said to be the largest show-cave in the Midwest. They feature a labyrinth of sprawling cave chambers and tunnels, where an underground river carved out pathways over thousands of years.

It was once open to the public, when people could freely use the region for hiking, skiing, bird-watching, hunting, and more.

However, the caves are now permanently closed due to a discovery of a new disease. The bat population inside seemed to harbor it, and it was subsequently closed to protect it from spreading.

Ledge View Caves

The Ledge View Nature Center of Wisconsin is a park located in Calumet County, well known for its caves.

There are two main cave systems, along with prairie fields, picturesque woods, and a couple miles of hiking trails. The two cave systems, Carolyn’s Caverns and Montgomery Cave, attract about 16000 visitors per year. Thus, you will not have to worry about large crowds, in comparison to some National Parks.

Carolyn’s Caverns includes Mothers Cave, Bat Room, Dave’s Sink, Kieth’s Karst, and Wayne’s world. But it’s not an easy adventure. People who want to traverse Carolyn’s Caverns have to be physically fit and ready to get on their hands and knees. Mothers Cave is an all-crawling cave, so you will definitely get dirty if you opt for that tour.

Bring a flashlight and some clean clothes for afterward. There is no artificial lighting or concrete walkway here, despite the caves offering numerous tours each day.

An image shows the crawlspace that is needed to traverse through one of the caves at Ledge View Nature Center in Wisconsin.

Samuel’s Cave

Samuel’s Cave is also known as Brown’s Cave, Pictured Cave, and Mystery Cave. It’s a prehistoric rock shelter where petroglyphs and pictographs from Native Americans endure to this day.

This is a pretty small cave, only 30 feet (9.1 m) deep, and was discovered back in 1878. As of 1991, it’s been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

When it was first excavated, archaeologist John Rice uncovered four layers of ashes separated by layers of clean sand. Within these layers, they found elaborate pottery, bivalve shells, and a bone tool. This suggested that the caves had four separate periods of use, with vacancy in between each. The artwork was estimated to be from 1300 to 1625 A.D.

An image shows some of the ancient Native American drawings found at Samuel's Cave in Wisconsin.
Some of the drawings found at Samuel’s Cave.

Learn more about ancient cave paintings here.

St. John Mine

St. John Mine was used by Native Americans as well. Discovered in 1827 during a lead rush, it was converted from a natural cave to a mine shaft.

Located in Potosi, St. John Mine was also added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

This cave is privately owned, and access is no longer permitted.

An image shows the entrance to St. John Mine, where a sign has been erected to label it.

Tainter Cave (Tombstone Cave)

Tainter Cave also goes by Tombstone Cave, and it’s another stunning museum of ancient Native American petroglyphs. These drawings included birds, men, deer, and various abstract designs. There are more than 100, more than any other known site in the state.

This cave is also known to be the “first archaeological site recorded in the dark zone of a cave in the Upper Midwest.”

There’s about 175 feet of cave here, with natural light revealing the opening chamber. Then, as you go deeper, two more chambers appear, though they are pitch black. You would have to crawl or stoop to get through them.

A piece of wood charcoal from the cave was dated to about 535 A.D.

Various drawings of what looks like men and deer or some other four legged animal, found inside Tainter Cave.


Wisconsin offers quite a lot of interesting sites when it comes to caves. We are certain you’ll enjoy yourself, but be sure to pack wisely. Wisconsin winters are brutal, and the snow can be a burden. If you opt for the spring or summertime, you might be able to enjoy traveling to other states without much hassle.

Check out some of Wisconsin’s neighbors next, as more caves await:

Illinois Caves

Iowa Caves

Michigan Caves

Minnesota Caves

Leave a comment