Niter Ice Cave, Idaho

Idaho, USA
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Niter Ice Cave has formed about 500.000 years ago when lava flowed out of Ice Cave Knoll, across the street of State Highway 34. This type of basalt volcano usually forms caves, better known as lava tubes. While the lava flows, the outer crust cools down and hardens while the inside keeps flowing. The Niter Ice Cave is a small remnant of a several mile-long lava-tube system. Most of these lava tubes are now covered with wind-blown soil.

Early settlers in 1898 filed for a homestead in the area and were delighted when they found the ice cave. They used to store butter, milk, and cream in the cave.

Getting to Niter Ice Cave

Niter Ice Cave is located a few miles south of Grace, ID. The entrance to the cave is about 1300 ft of Idaho State Route 34. It’s a well-maintained gravel road and there is parking for a few cars near the entrance. Please be respectful as the neighboring grounds are all private property. Park in the small lot or as close as possible off the side of the street. Access to the cave and parking is free of charge.

Niter Ice Cave Exploration

From the parking lot, it’s a very easy walk into the cave. Follow down the easy trail to get into the cave. There is even a handrail there for better support. Wear a light jacket or sweater as it is pretty cool in the cave. For the first few feet, you won’t need a light source, but it’s literally just a few feet before you want to turn on some kind of light source. 

Looking out of the cave

Most of the time there is water on the ground at the very front of the cave. I got lucky enough that everything was dry. With your light you should be able to see the trail, which will guide you through the wet obstacle, depending on how much water is sitting in the cave. The first part of the stroll through the cave is very easy and you have to watch out for some easy obstacles laying on the ground.

There might be water on either side of this trail.

As you continue you will have to get over bigger piles of rock. These rocks fell from the ceiling and pilled up in the cave. You can walk around some of them but you also have to climb over a few of them to get to the end of the cave. Be careful as the rocks can be slippery and we all want to avoid any injuries. The passageway through the cave gets pretty narrow and small at some points. Be careful to not hit your head either. For the most part of the cave, you can walk upright, I am pretty tall and had no issues walking comfortable upright. It’s hard to judge this based on the photos. Unfortunately, I was just by myself and couldn’t take a picture with someone else as a reference. By the way, you are exploring this cave at your own risk, I am not liable if anything happens. 

You will know when you reach the end of the cave as the ceiling gets very low and you can crawl on for a bit but will ultimately end up at a dead end. There is also a ton of graffiti there just like throughout the rest of the cave.

I am so angry that people think defacing this cave is cool or putting their names on the walls. If you explore with small kids you might want to watch out for what they read on the wall. During my visit, there were some bad words on the wall throughout the cave. It’s just so sad. If you see anyone tagging this cave, go back out and call the cops. Sorry, they deserve it. It’s not even their property. This cave should be here for a long time for future generations to enjoy.

There were even two fire pits throughout the cave. Especially the one further inside the cave makes me think about the people who do this. There is no air circulation and starting a fire in there is a very dumb idea. 

Overall it is a pretty easy and neat cave to explore. Again, bring good shoes and wear clothing you don’t mind getting dirty. Bring a bright flashlight or headlamp and at least one backup.

More to Explore

If you liked to explore this cave, there is another one, not too far from here. It is called Formation Springs Cave and is just outside of Soda Springs. It is about 20 miles from Niter Ice Cave to Formation Springs Cave. On your way to the cave, you will pass the only captive geyser in the world and you might want to check it out. The geyser erupts every hour on the hour. If you still can’t get enough there are two more caves I can recommend, but it’s a bit of a drive to get to them. One is Paris Ice Cave and the other one is called Minnetonka Cave. Minnetonka cave can only be visited during their operating hours and you have to buy a ticket for a tour. Paris Ice Cave is completely free of charge.

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