Discover the Top 11 Best Caves in All of Wisconsin

Icicle and snow-laden shoreline sandstone formations on Wisconsin's Apostle Islands National Lakeshore near Meyer's beach; Lake Superior.
© Bryan Neuswanger/Shutterstock.com

Written by Ashley Day

Updated: August 12, 2023

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Wisconsin has diverse natural beauty and is home to a collection of captivating caves. These underground and above-ground wonders offer a glimpse into the geological and ecological marvels of the state. Each cave holds its unique character, with some featuring extensive cave systems, intricate passages, and hidden chambers. In contrast, others present more simple cave-like structures. These caves are composed primarily of limestone, sandstone, or other sedimentary rocks shaped by the forces of water and time. Guided tours and educational programs provide visitors with valuable insights into the geological history, cultural significance, and conservation efforts surrounding these incredible caves. So, if you’re seeking an opportunity to go spelunking in the Midwest, the best caves in all of Wisconsin offer a gateway to a fascinating realm waiting to be explored.

Icicle and snow-laden shoreline sandstone formations on Wisconsin's Apostle Islands National Lakeshore near Meyer's beach; Lake Superior.

During the winter, ice forms over the Apostle Island Sea Caves, creating a gorgeous effect.

©Bryan Neuswanger/Shutterstock.com

1. Cave of the Mounds (Blue Mounds)

Cave of the Mounds is first on our list of the best caves in all of Wisconsin, located in Blue Mounds. It is a remarkable show cave that captivates visitors with its awe-inspiring natural beauty. It offers an opportunity to explore a portion of an underground cave system, showcasing a variety of stunning geological formations. This cave is composed of sedimentary rock, specifically limestone.

When visitors venture into the Cave of the Mounds, they discover a series of breathtaking stalactites, stalagmites, and other formations that have formed over thousands of years. The cave features well-lit walkways and informative guided tours, providing visitors with an educational and immersive experience. The tour guides share fascinating insights about the cave’s geology, history, and the delicate ecosystem it supports.

This cave is home to various species of wildlife that have adapted to the dark and unique environment. Bats like the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus) can roost within the cave’s chambers. Other cave-dwelling species, such as cave crickets (Hadenoecus subterraneus) and various beetles, also inhabit this underground wonder.

The Cave of the Mounds is open to the public and welcomes visitors year-round. Guided tours allow individuals to explore the fascinating cave system and marvel at its geological wonders. The site also includes a visitor center where guests can learn more about the cave’s formation and the importance of cave conservation.

Exploring Wisconsin's Cave of the Mounds

Cave of the Mounds in Wisconsin offers incredible opportunities to explore an expansive underground cave system.

©Sarah Michals/Shutterstock.com

2. Apostle Islands Sea Caves (Bayfield)

Nestled along the scenic shores of Lake Superior in Bayfield, WI, the Apostle Islands Sea Caves offer a genuinely unique cave exploration experience. It resides along the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. These caves are not typical underground formations but stunning sea caves carved into the sandstone cliffs that line the lake.

The Apostle Islands Sea Caves have stunning ice formations during winter when the freezing temperatures transform them into a winter wonderland. Visitors can witness magnificent icicles, ice curtains, and sculptures formed by the freezing waters of Lake Superior.

The caves are made primarily of sandstone, shaped and eroded by the relentless action of wind, waves, and ice over thousands of years. The intricate patterns and textures within the sandstone cliffs make for a truly mesmerizing sight.

Wildlife enthusiasts will appreciate the abundant birdlife in and around the sea caves. During the warmer months, visitors can observe nesting birds along the cliffs, including herring gulls (Larus argentatus) and black guillemots (Cepphus grylle). In addition, visitors may spot bald eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) soaring overhead, adding to the picturesque landscape.

Exploring the Apostle Islands Sea Caves is a unique experience. However, access may vary depending on weather conditions and ice formation. During winter, visitors can access the caves by walking across the frozen surface of Lake Superior. However, it is essential to exercise caution and follow any safety guidelines or advisories park officials provide.

It is worth noting that according to the National Park Service, the Apostle Island visitors center is temporarily closed in 2023 due to construction.

Rocky Shores of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Near the Wisconsin Shoreline of Lake Superior

Visitors can explore the Apostle Islands Sea Caves by kayak during the summer or by foot during the winter when Lake Superior freezes over.

©Gottography/Shutterstock.com

3. Witches Gulch (Dell Prairie)

Located in Dell Prairie, WI, Witches Gulch is a narrow gorge showcasing erosion’s dramatic effects on sandstone formations. This fascinating natural wonder is accessible by boat or on foot, and its unique geological features make it an intriguing destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Carved within the gulch are various cave-like formations.

Witches Gulch offers a narrow, winding passage with twisting walls of sandstone that rise high above visitors, creating an enchanting and slightly eerie atmosphere. The narrowness of the gorge creates a sense of mystery and adventure as visitors make their way through the winding path.

The Wisconsin River has sculpted the sandstone formations that are the Witches Gulch over thousands of years. The relentless force of the water has carved out the narrow gorge and created intricate patterns and textures on the sandstone walls.

While the cave-like structures of Witches Gulch are not expansive like traditional underground caves, it offers a unique opportunity to witness the power of erosion and the beauty it can create. Visitors can explore the gorge on foot, following a designated trail that winds its way through the narrow passage.

Wildlife is abundant in the area surrounding Witches Gulch, adding to the natural charm of the site. Visitors may encounter various bird species, including herons, eagles, songbirds, and smaller mammals like squirrels and chipmunks.

Access to Witches Gulch may be dependent on weather conditions. It is advisable to check with local authorities or tour operators for the most up-to-date information on accessibility and take any safety precautions.

Witches Gulch is a beautiful slot canyon in the Wisconsin Dells

Witches Gulch has various cave-like structures throughout the gorge.

©Jason Patrick Ross/Shutterstock.com

4. Kickapoo Caverns (Wauzeka)

In Wauzeka, WI, the Kickapoo Caverns offer a fascinating underground adventure for cave enthusiasts. Of the best caves in all of Wisconsin, this cave system is part of the Kickapoo Valley Reserve. It features a network of passages, tunnels, and chambers. As of 2017, the Mississippi Valley Conservancy owns and manages this cavern.

Kickapoo Caverns is primarily composed of limestone, with unique geological formations that have developed over time. Visitors can expect to encounter impressive stalactites, stalagmites, and delicate flowstone formations as they venture deeper into the cave.

The cave system also boasts underground streams and pools, adding to its attraction. These water sources provide a habitat for various aquatic creatures, such as cave-dwelling salamanders and invertebrates adapted to life in the dark.

One of the remarkable features of Kickapoo Caverns is its association with Native American history. The cave system holds cultural significance for indigenous peoples. This connection to history adds an extra layer of intrigue or need of respect to the exploration experience.

Access to Kickapoo Caverns is limited and requires permission or guided tours due to conservation efforts, often completely booked up to a year out. Exploring the caves without proper guidance can be hazardous and may cause harm to the delicate ecosystem within. It is crucial to respect the regulations and guidelines set forth by the Kickapoo Valley Reserve and the Mississippi Valley Conservancy to ensure the preservation of this unique cave system.

Exploring Wisconsin's Cave of the Mounds

The only way to explore the Kickapoo Caverns is through a guided tour. Keep note that tours are booked out a year in advance.

©Sarah Michals/Shutterstock.com

5. Cave Point Caves (Cave Point County Park)

Cave Point County Park is located in Sturgeon Bay, WI. It is home to picturesque sea caves that add to the region’s natural splendor. The cliffs along the shoreline feature various caves and crevices created by the relentless force of Lake Michigan’s waves.

While not traditional underground caves, the sea caves of Cave Point County Park offer visitors a unique opportunity to witness the power of water erosion and the stunning formations it creates. These limestone caves were shaped and sculpted by the constant pounding of waves against the cliffs.

The limestone cliffs of Cave Point County Park showcase impressive arches, tunnels, and grottoes. The interaction between the water and the rock over thousands of years has resulted in striking formations, including overhangs and small caverns. These features provide a picturesque backdrop for photography enthusiasts and nature lovers.

The park is teeming with wildlife within the caves and the surrounding area. Visitors may spot bird species, such as seagulls, cormorants, and bald eagles, soaring above the cliffs. In the waters below, schools of fish swim near the caves, attracting the attention of diving birds.

Visitors can explore the Cave Point Caves by boat, kayak, or even by foot from land. Designated viewpoints along the park’s hiking trails allow visitors to see the caves. However, it’s important to note that park officials can restrict access to the caves during certain times or due to weather conditions. This is to ensure visitor safety and the preservation of the fragile limestone formations.

Cave Point County Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. It offers visitors the chance to experience the beauty of the shoreline of Lake Michigan and the remarkable caves created by its powerful waves.

A rock arch window has been eroded by the waves at Door County, Wisconsin's Cave Point  with a cloudy blue sky.

Cave Point County Park is home to numerous sea caves assessable by watercraft or on foot.

©Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock.com

6. Crystal Cave (Spring Valley)

Located in Spring Valley, WI, Crystal Cave is a popular and well-known cave system. It offers visitors the chance to explore an underground world filled with stunning crystal formations and unique geological features. People consider it one of the best caves in all of Wisconsin.

Crystal Cave is primarily composed of limestone, carved out by water over thousands of years. The cave system features a variety of chambers, tunnels, and passages. All of which are adorned with intricate stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones, and other mineral formations. The mesmerizing crystals create a sparkling spectacle that leaves visitors in awe.

The cave is a geological wonder and a haven for wildlife. The unique environment within Crystal Cave supports a diverse array of species. This cave is home to various bats, including the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the eastern pipistrelle (Pipistrellus subflavus). Various insects and invertebrates also call this underground world their home.

Crystal Cave is open to the public. It allows visitors to marvel at the beauty of the crystal formations and gain a deeper understanding of the fascinating geological processes. Guided tours are available for visitors to explore Crystal Cave and learn about its geological significance. Knowledgeable guides provide insights into the cave’s formation, the delicate ecosystem it supports, and the area’s history. In addition, educational programs for schools and groups enhance the learning experience.

Exploring Wisconsin's Cave of the Mounds

Visitors to Crystal Cave will find intricate stalactites, stalagmites, soda straws, flowstones, and other mineral formations.

©Sarah Michals/Shutterstock.com

7. Eagle Cave (Blue River)

Eagle Cave resides in Blue River, WI. This extensive cave system is commercially operated. It offers visitors the chance to venture into various passages, tunnels, and chambers beneath the surface.

The cave is an onyx cave, shaped by the slow dissolution of water over thousands of years. Its intricate network of passages provides an exciting and immersive experience for cave enthusiasts. Visitors can navigate through the dark corridors, discovering unique formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, and flowstone.

The diverse wildlife that calls Eagle Cave home adds to its allure. The cave is home to several bat species. These nocturnal creatures roost within the cave’s recesses, taking advantage of its cool and sheltered environment.

Self-guided and guided tours are available at Eagle Cave, offering visitors an educational journey through its fascinating geological features. Knowledgeable guides provide insights into the cave’s formation. This includes the delicate balance of its ecosystem and the intriguing history of the area as well. Visitors can learn about the cave’s cultural significance and its importance in the region’s history.

Cave of the Mounds, a natural limestone cave located near Blue Mounds, Wisconsin, United States, is named for two nearby hills called the Blue Mounds.

Eagle Cave has self-guided and guided tours available to the public.

©LakshmiPhotography/Shutterstock.com

8. Lost Canyon (Lake Delton)

Lost Canyon in Lake Delton, WI, is the longest and deepest canyon in the state. It is commercially operated and offers visitors a unique and picturesque experience amidst towering sandstone cliffs and breathtaking natural beauty. The canyon operates out of Wisconsin Dells. Although not an underground cave, Lost Canyon provides a remarkable journey through a narrow canyon and cave-like formations. In addition to moss-covered cliffs and a scenic walking trail.

The canyon itself is a result of water erosion over time, carving out the sandstone formations that grace the landscape. Visitors can explore the narrow passages and winding trails that wind through the canyon. That is also surrounded by lush vegetation and the calming sounds of nature.

The wildlife that inhabits the area surrounding Lost Canyon adds to the experience. Visitors can witness various bird species, including songbirds and woodpeckers. At the same time, small mammals like squirrels and chipmunks scurry about. The canyon’s flora showcases various plant life, such as ferns, mosses, and wildflowers, creating a vibrant and enchanting atmosphere.

Guided tours are available to help visitors make the most of their experience in Lost Canyon. These guided tours provide insights into the area’s geological history. In addition to the unique features of the sandstone cliffs and the importance of conservation efforts. The tours offer a chance to learn about the diverse plant and animal species that also thrive here. Not to mention horse-drawn carriages lead the tours, covering roughly one mile in total.

The Lost Canyon is a Hidden Gem of the Wisconsin Dells with Horse Rides through a Scenic Gorge

Horse-drawn carriages lead the tours through Lost Canyon.

©Jacob Boomsma/Shutterstock.com

9. Rock Elm Disturbance (Pierce County)

Next on our list of the best caves in all of Wisconsin is Rock Elm Disturbance, located in Pierce County, Wisconsin. Its geological feature includes several small above-ground caves and rock shelters, making it an intriguing destination for those interested in the region’s ancient past. The site is named after the Rock Elm impact crater, which occurred around 450 million years ago.

The caves within the Rock Elm Disturbance are relatively small, but their historical significance sets them apart. These rock shelters have yielded artifacts and evidence of human occupation, making them valuable archaeological sites.

The area surrounding the Rock Elm Disturbance is teeming with wildlife, allowing nature enthusiasts to observe various species. Visitors can spot forest-dwelling birds among the trees. Species include the red-headed woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus) and the tufted titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor). Small mammals like eastern cottontail (Sylvilagus floridanus) and eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) also scurry about. The diverse flora and fauna contribute to the site’s natural beauty and ecological importance.

Visitors to the Rock Elm Disturbance can explore the caves and rock shelters, in addition to appreciating the historical and cultural significance of the area. It is essential to respect the site and its artifacts. They provide valuable insights into the region’s past and the lives of its early inhabitants.

Access to the Rock Elm Disturbance caves may require permission or be subject to specific regulations. This is due to their archaeological significance. It is advisable to contact local authorities or organizations for the most up-to-date information on access and preservation guidelines.

A Wide Shot of a Man Looking Out from a Cave into the Wilderness of Wisconsin during an Autumn Day

There are various above-ground cave-like formations across Rock Elm Disturbance.

©Sam Wagner/Shutterstock.com

10. Cherney Maribel Caves Park (Manitowoc County)

Within Manitowoc County, WI, the Cherney Maribel Caves Park offers visitors a unique opportunity to explore a series of small caves and crevices formed within the Niagara Escarpment. This limestone rock formation provides the foundation for the caves found within the park. It is considered one of the best caves in all of Wisconsin and is one of the best sites for safe exploration without a guide.

The caves within Cherney Maribel Caves Park vary in size and complexity, ranging from narrow passages to small chambers. Visitors can traverse the trails and explore these intriguing geological formations, marveling at the diverse textures and patterns created by centuries of erosion.

The park is home to various wildlife species, including woodland birds, such as cerulean warblers (Setophaga cerulea) and even wood thrushes (Hylocichla mustelina), flitting among the trees. The limestone cliffs and surrounding vegetation also attract butterflies such as the red admiral butterflies (Vanessa atalanta), adding a splash of color to the serene natural setting.

The park is open to the public, providing an opportunity for individuals and families to enjoy the scenic beauty and discover the hidden treasures within the limestone caves of Manitowoc County. Cherney Maribel Caves Park offers visitors the chance to embark on self-guided tours, allowing for a more personalized and flexible exploration experience. Informational signs along the trails provide insights into the area’s geological history, the caves’ unique features, and the importance of environmental conservation.

Maribel Cherney caves in Wisconsin, USA

Cherney Maribel Caves has multiple above-ground caves across the park’s lands.

©Ilia Bordiugov/Shutterstock.com

11. Reuben’s Cave (Albany)

Reuben’s Cave resides in Albany, WI. Limited information is available about this cave. However, it offers a small-scale exploration opportunity for those curious to explore the best caves in all of Wisconsin.

The extent of the cave system in Reuben’s Cave is minimal. It is a hollow cavern within limestone rocks on public hunting grounds along the Little Sugar River. Although not known for its grand scale, the cave-like structure offers a unique off-the-beaten-path adventure. In addition, Wisconsin’s bedrock mainly consists of sedimentary rock types. Such as limestone and sandstone, which may contribute to the cave’s formation.

Wildlife present around Reuben’s Cave is abundant. Visitors can spot white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), red foxes (Vulpes vulpes), and gray squirrels (Sciurus carolinensis), to name just a few. In the river live various types of fish, including white suckers (Catostomus commersonii), quillback (Carpiodes cyprinus), and multiple trout species.

Reuben’s Cave holds a sense of mystery and allure due to its relatively obscure nature. Its hidden location and uncommercialized potential make it a fascinating site for adventurous individuals interested in secluded experiences.

Summary of the Top 11 Best Caves in All of Wisconsin

RankCaveLocation
1Cave of the MoundsBlue Mounds
2Apostle Islands Sea CavesBayfield
3Witches GulchDell Prairie
4Kickapoo CavernsWauzeka
5Cave Point CavesCave Point County Park
6Crystal CaveSpring Valley
7Eagle CaveBlue River
8Lost CanyonLake Delton
9Rock Elm DisturbancePierce County
10Cherney Maribel Caves ParkManitowoc County
11Reuben’s CaveAlbany
Summary Table of the Top 11 Best Caves in All of Wisconsin


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About the Author

Ashley is a writer for A-Z Animals, where her primary focus is on wildlife, nature conservation, the environment, and pets. As a writer and wildlife photographer, Ashley has been writing, photographing, and researching about animals and the environment for over eight years. Ashley is a resident of the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys being out in nature, hiking, and scouring local bookshops. Insatiably curious and drawn to knowledge, she has a passion for sharing the wonder of the natural world with others.

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