Spook Cave: Experience One of The Best Caves in Iowa, USA

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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 www.caves.org 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.

Spook Cave is a privately owned display cave and campground located along Bloody River in McGregor, Iowa. Doesn’t that name just sound so fitting? The site offers a unique cave excursion is a forty-minute boat ride through the flooded Spook Cave. Since 1955, visitors have been able to enjoy cave explorations at this beautiful campground.

Today’s version of this original road trip destination from the 1950s needs to be more balanced. The original vessels commissioned for this excursion are the seven punts used to transport visitors through the caves.

It features elaborate tongue-in-cheek humor, hand-painted signage, a scripted tour narrative, and all the razzle-dazzle you’d expect from the romantic heyday of American tourism.

In addition to the primary attraction continuing to enchant and excite off-the-beaten-path visitors, the nearby campgrounds and leisure park appear to have been frozen in a bygone era when children would recklessly wade into streams to catch minnows, climb on waterfalls irresponsibly, and compete for turns on the pinball machine.

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the fun activities you can enjoy at Spook Cave.

An image shows the ice-like stalactites hanging from the ceiling in Spook Cave.

History of Spook Cave

The dolomite terrain of the area of Wisconsin and Iowa hides priceless artifacts. In 1953, Gerald Mielke heard “spooky” noises from within the bluff, leading him toward the cave. He dug it up and explored it for a while before finally opening it publicly in 1955. The tours have been running ever since.

Research suggests that stalagmites and stalactites grow in similar moist and dark chambers nearby that are still unknown to humans. Sinkholes, dolines, and underground rivers are scattered throughout the entire region.

Spook Cave is a repository and museum for the rich geological heritage of the area. Zebra stripes of pure calcite and manganese can be seen in a flowstone wall.

A 35-foot-high dome room with a frozen mineral cascade and an infinite chimney are revealed when the chambers emerge from hidden corners. A hollow interior of Spook Cave is located 120 feet back, beneath a cow field.

As per the trip norms, the captain and tour leader of your trip will share stories about Gerald Mielke. Beulah, a genuine ghost town, once resided in the hollow where rustic campgrounds are now alongside Bloody Run.

Activities at Spook Cave

Spook Cave Boat Tours

Unlike other Iowa cave tours, this one is definitely distinctive. Gerald Mielke bought the very first versions of these boats. They can carry up to six people simultaneously and come with a portable trolling engine that runs on a battery.

About half a mile into the bluff is where the cave continues. Nevertheless, the last kilometer cannot be reached by tour. This is because boats cannot safely travel in shallower waters.

An image shows the dark corridor along the river where visitors of Spook Cave might use flashlights to help see the walls and ceiling above.

For instance, the cave’s first 60 to 100 feet are quite small. The tunnel ceiling is low, so you’ll need to stoop as you travel through the cavern. The largest of the caves has a ceiling height of around 45 feet.

A tourist favorite feature is a Frozen waterfall. Several kinds of stalagmites, stalactites, and other rocks and minerals can be found in this cave.

Dripping water from underground cracks created the cave in the first place. Over time, the disintegration of the boulders resulted in the landscape we see today. Be ready to get your feet wet if you venture into the catacombs, as they are still quite damp. The cave’s age is estimated to be around 750,000 years.

Temperature Inside the Caves

The cave has a constant 47 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius) all year round. The catacombs are toasty and welcoming, especially compared to the frigid winters outside.

Initially entering the caverns, you are roughly 90 feet below ground. The deepest part is about 120 feet down. No “downhill” sections can be found on the tour. It’s because of the high cliff that surrounds the area.

No species live in the cave year-round. The Pipistral bat begins its winter hibernation in caverns near the end of October. Around this time, parents usually have just one child. But they always disappear before the annual hiking trips resume in May.

Campgrounds and Cabins at Spook Cave

Spook Cave offers a wide selection of pitches suitable for every occasion. Various camping options exist, from permanent campsites to RV sites with 30 or 50-amp hookups to temporary “tent pitches” on grass. One of the biggest surprises was the presence of WiFi. The campsite is completely covered with a strong signal.

The Hut

The Hut cottage is easily recognizable due to its unique design, reminiscent of a small hobbit hole. It’s the most rustic of the Ghost Cave cottages and feels more like a tent than a home. The shack desperately needs a restroom, but the nearest facilities are miles away.

The ‘Hut’ is close to the bubbling waters of the Bloody Run Trout Stream. The state provides fish food for the trout in this stream. You can cast your line with the proper fishing license and trout stamp.

A waterwheel close to the dwelling was installed there to run the lights in the caves. It is still switched on daily but no longer used to generate electricity because it does not produce enough.

Other Cabins In The Spook Cave Campground

The various lodgings in the Spook Cave are roomier than the hut and are nearer to the Campsite Lake. The two smaller cabins can each hold up to six people, while the largest cabin may hold anywhere from eight to 10. The Amish community built them themselves.

Comparatively, these rooms are far more excellent than the hut. Each apartment features a bathroom with a toilet, shower, and kitchen with all the necessary appliances.

Four apartments look out over the water. The most oversized suites feature two lofts and two bedrooms, making them ideal for large parties traveling together. The terrace gives plenty of room for relaxing in the fresh air.

Additional Amenities At Spook Cave Campground

The Spook Cave Camping Area also features the sizable Campsite Lagoon. This body of water has a small swimming area and coastline, and fishing here does not require a license.

There are two playgrounds for kids, the larger one near where the boat tours stop at Spook Cave and a smaller one in the middle of the seasonal sites.

Fire starters, maple syrup, sunscreen, refreshments, ice cream, and Spook Cave souvenirs are locally made items that may be purchased at the tour office, which also doubles as a camp store.

Beulah Falls

At the campground’s entrance is Beulah Falls, a waterfall that seemingly springs from the midst of the bluff and empties into Bloody Run Trout Creek.

Golf Cart Rentals

Golf cart rentals at Spook Cave Campsite are available for $50 per day. You can ride one around the 93-acre campground it is located in. Hiking is another widespread usage for the paths, and the walk to the bluff’s peak is a must for any serious hiker.

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