Friday, July 5, 2013

Maquoketa Caves State Park

By now, you might have seen a pattern...I like to go exploring when I visit new places.  As I traveled north up state highway 61 to Dubuque, I caught a glimpse of a sign that said "Maquoketa Caves State Park"; I had to check it out.
 After getting a talk about White Nose Syndrome, a map and permit from a park employee, I headed across the road from the parking lot and down these stairs.
 There are basically 2 trail loops: one is off to the left through this natural arch.
 The other trail loop is through this cave.
 They have electric lights and a concrete walk, so that you're not walking through Raccoon Creek.
 This is called "Dance Hall Cave", and they used to hold dances here.  I guess it was the place to be on a hot summer day.
 There are paths and walkways going in a number of directions.
 It's hard to make a choice where to start.
 My choice led me next to Rainy Day Cave.
 ...and the path leads ever on ...
 ...and on.
 Balancing Rock.
 ...and back through Dance Hall Cave to go check out the other loop.  (I'm leaving out pictures of several caves like Shin Bone and Barbell.  I'll leave plenty for you to discover for yourself someday.)
Naturally, this area was used extensively by Indians; Twin Arches Cave would be my choice to live in.  What a magical place for kids to grow up in - caves, creeks and rocks to climb everywhere!
 This group of teenagers have flashlights and hardhats for crawling into some of the caves, like Dug Out Cave here.  I didn't bring a flashlight and old clothes, but I had plenty to see without going to that extra effort.
This is the view from inside Wide Mouth Cave.  The map lists 16 separate caves spread through a beautiful and lush landscape. Maquoketa Caves State Park was a great experience - I definitely recommend the side trip on your way to Dubuque.

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