Crystal Lake Cave is a network of caverns that are home to a world of fantastic stalactites, stalagmites, and other fascinating and fragile, natural mineral formations that are still forming today. Crystal Lake Cave is a “live” or “wet” cave that continues to evolve and grow, as it has for millions of years.
Crystal Lake Cave was accidentally discovered in 1868 by a miner named James Rice. Rice was in search of lead ore when a shaft he’d sunk some 40 feet down into into the local limestone broke through to a natural passage hundreds of feet long: access to an unexpected and previously unknown, massive cave system: Crystal Lake Cave!
Initially dubbed “Rice’s Cave,” James Rice widened access to the cave and lowered those first, brave visitors down the dark shaft into Crystal Lake Cave on a bucket and a rope. Through the years, the expansive cave network saw many owners and names until, in the 1930’s, it was renamed Crystal Lake Cave – and the name stuck.
Today, Crystal Lake Cave is still open to visitors via a guided tour that will take you to another world, one filled with fantastic natural formations like St. Peter’s Dome stalactite, clusters of white, flower-like crystal antholites sprouting out of the ceiling, soda straw stalactites, and twisting masses of helictites. You’ll pass by the shallows of subterranean Crystal Lake, which gives the cave its name, and see weird, otherworldly rock formations.
Throughout the 45 minute tour, your guide will expound upon Crystal Lake Cave’s history, geology, and the myths and legends surrounding it. If you plan to go on the tour, be sure to wear something warm: No matter the weather is outside, Crystal Lake Cave’s temperature stays a fairly consistent 52 degree Fahrenheit year ’round.
Crystal Lake Cave also offers a gem mining sluice for younger visitors to “mine” their own minerals, an outdoor pavilion for picnicking, and a gift shop full of natural treasures and mementos that you can take home with you.
Crystal Lake Cave
6684 Crystal Lake Cave Drive, Dubuque, IA
Crystal Lake Cave is open from May to October with summer hours of 9am to 6pm. Be sure to visit the Crystal Lake Cave website for hours and entry fees.
Crystal Lake Cave Lodging
No matter what brings you to Jo Daviess County, Cloran Mansion Bed & Breakfast offers you the finest lodging, amenities, and service in the Galena area. Cloran Mansion Bed & Breakfast is open year-round, offering extraordinarily comfortable, European-style accommodations on manicured grounds that are at once secluded and conveniently close to all the best attractions our lovely area has to offer. Book your room at Cloran Mansion Bed & Breakfast now!