I love exploring caves and underground adventures. Even when I was young I already had a passion for caves but not the opportunities to explore caves. It all improved with Geocaching and my first few underground adventures.
A few years ago I discovered the Ape Cave Lava Tubes near Mount Saint Helens. This is so far my most impressive cave/underground adventure. It’s the longest “cave” I have ever been in. Not too long ago, I visited the Minnetonka Cave, which is actually fairly close to Paris Ice Cave. If you are in the area make sure you check the Minnetonka Cave as well. In comparison to the Paris Ice Cave, there is a fee required to enter Minnetonka Cave but this will give you a guided tour. Minnetonka Cave is also a developed cave that has lights throughout the whole length of the cave. At Paris Ice Cave you have to bring your own gear.
Getting To Paris Ice Cave
The Paris Ice Cave is located in the Bear River Range also known as the Bear River Mountains at an elevation of 7815 ft (2382 m). It is located just west of the town of Paris in Idaho near Bear Lake. Paris Ice Cave is also on Google Maps but be careful when using Google Maps to route you to the cave. Depending on your location it might send you up the mountain from the wrong side. If Google Maps to drive up the mountain from the west side heading east, you are on the most challenging route to get there. This route requires a 4×4 with high clearance. Don’t use this route if you are not an experienced off-roader and know what you are doing.
Don’t worry you can still get there, even in a small city car, but you have to take a different route. Drive up the mountain from Paris, ID. This road is a groomed dirt road and is well maintained throughout the year. Coming from Paris, ID is an easy drive in any kind of vehicle. Please stay on the road as there are a lot of private properties along the route. Once in Paris, you have to turn on to W 2nd S Street and follow it to the ice cave. There will be a few forks in the road along the way but there are signs pointing you to the “Ice Cave”.
Below you find a map with the route to get there as well as a video driving the road up from Paris. You can download the map and save it to your GPS device or smartphone to have it as a reference. Make sure you have offline maps available as there is no cellphone coverage on the way up and at the cave.
The best time to visit is in summer and early fall before it snows again. Most years you should be able to drive up there from June – October. During the winter, you can only visit the cave with a snowmobile. I visited in the middle of October and it was an easy drive. The drive can also be a little bit more challenging if it just rained.
You can’t really miss the parking lot of the cave as there is a big sign.
Paris Ice Cave
There are three possible entries into the cave but please use the main entrance which is easy to find. The other two require climbing and climbing gear and is only for experienced people.
The main entrance is family-friendly and no problem for kids either. Just follow the trail towards the cave which starts to the left of the sign for Paris Ice Cave. You can’t miss it.
This entrance will bring you into the first cavern and you can do this one even without a flashlight as it is open on both ends. Walk down the path from the entrance and you will see a boardwalk guiding you across to the other end. Over snow and sometimes water. In my case, it was already dried out as I am late in the season, but don’t worry there was still snow sitting in the first cavern.
Once you cross the boardwalk you will come across a big skylight as the roof of the cavern collapsed here a very long time ago. Getting to this point is no sweat at all.
If you look straight ahead while standing on the boardwalk, you will see a small and dark “room” at the other end. When you go in there it looks like it’s a dead end.
Don’t be fooled, there is a small crack on the left side of this room which leads to another cavern. Look around and you will see it. This crawl space is very tiny and to get through you have to get down on all fours. Be careful to not hit your head as there is not a lot of space here. To get into this second cavern you definitely need a light source. I was fully equipped for this adventure with a headlamp, good boots, durable pants, and kneepads. For me, it was no problem at all to get into this cavern. In the middle of the cavern was a puddle with water but you could walk on the perimeter of it to get to the end of the cavern.
At the end of the second cavern is another skylight where you also could possibly climb out or in. But again this is for experienced climbers. Don’t attempt to use any other way than the main entrance if you are not experienced and know what you are doing.
I took a bunch of photos in this cavern before heading out the same way I came in. During my visit, the opening through which you have to crawl was free of ice and snow and the ground was dry. Depending on the time of the year, you can encounter a lot of snow or muddy ground here. Wear good and solid boots to give you a better grip and prevent sliding accidents.
Walk to the topside of the cave and enjoy the views down through the skylights. There is a small path from the parking lot leading up to the top.
Be also mindful of others while exploring. While I visited there were a few other people there. One family stand out during my visit there. It already started in the parking lot which was pretty much empty and wide open, but they had to park right in front of the small trail towards the cave’s main entrance. Inside the cave, the parents didn’t have their kids under control and there was a lot of screaming. I know how exciting this cave can be, but please parents have your kids under control, especially if other people are present.
Below you find a small virtual tour I created. Move your mouse around and see in which directions you can go.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.