The Shoshone Ice Caves in Shoshone, Idaho, are a fun and unique family experience! Check out my 5 tips for a great time on your visit.
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My family and I visited the Shoshone Ice Caves in Shoshone, Idaho, during the summer of 2020. We were on a short weekend getaway to Twin Falls, Idaho and had heard that the Shoshone Ice Caves were a must-see. So we drove the 43 miles to the main parking lot and gift shop where the tours begin.
What Are the Shoshone Ice Caves?
The Shoshone Ice Caves are located 100 feet underground in an old lava tube. The caves are about 1700 feet long, 50 feet wide and 45 feet high (in some places). The ice is between 8 and 30 feet deep and is basically a living glacier, as the ice formation and thawing fluctuates. However, the temperature is always cold, ranging from 23 to 33 degrees, no matter the time of year.
The ice caves were used as a source of ice in the 1800s for the town of Shoshone. However, due to overdevelopment and a poorly placed access tunnel, almost all of the ice melted by the 1940s. The Robinson family acquired the ice caves in the 1950s and by 1962, they had restored the integrity of the cave.
Today, you can tour the ice caves. During the tour, you’ll be able to go underground and into the caves with a tour guide who will share about the history of the ice caves and the area surrounding it.
What To Know Before You Visit the Shoshone Ice Caves
Tickets and Tour Length
The tour is 3/4 mile long and takes 45-60 minutes. Tours start every hour on the hour. You can buy tickets online or in the gift shop. Children under 3 are free.
They are porta potties in the parking lot area.
They do have some vending machines with snacks and drinks but no other food is available. Be sure to bring your own water and food/snacks. Being 45-50 minutes from Twin Falls, you might want to consider bringing a cooler and eating there. At the time of our visit, they had a small covered area with picnic tables.
5 Tips for An Enjoyable Experience
Bring A Jacket
As mentioned above, the temperature is literally freezing in the ice caves. We visited at the end of July so our clothing reflected that. However, we had the kids all bring sweatshirts to wear once we got down into the caves. They were sure glad we did because it was definitely cold!
Wear Good Shoes
If you have younger kids, or are prone to cold feet, I recommend wearing tennis shoes. This is partly due to the coldness of the ice caves, but also, if you lose a flip flop while on your tour, you may not be able to get it back. Additionally, there are about 80 stairs you have to go down (and then back up) to access the caves and tennis shoes will provide more support.
To get down to the ice caves, you have to walk along a dirt path, then go down 80 stairs. The stairs are uneven heights since they are made from the large flat rocks in the area. (There is a railing to hold on to for balance.) Because of the stairs, this tour is not stroller or wheelchair accessible.
There is a portion of the tour when you reach the end of the caves where they show you some phosphorescent rocks that were found in the area. To demonstrate their brightness, they turn the lights off in the cave for a short period of time (no more than 30 seconds). If you have kids or other family members who are uncomfortable with pitch black, it’s helpful to know about this part of the tour so you can prepare. We never felt unsafe, but the darkness can be a little unsettling if you’ve never been in a cave with no light.
At the time of our tour, my kids were 8, 6 and 2.5. My older two did just fine walking up and down the stairs and along the paths in the ice caves. However, my 2.5 year old definitely needed to be carried for a lot of the tour (as much as she wanted to “do it herself”). The stairs provided an obstacle for her but the bigger challenge was once we were inside the caves.
Because the caves are filled with ice, you are walking above the ice on a series of connected suspension bridges. They are sturdy and I never felt unsafe. However, they are not closed in on each side. You can see in the picture below that it is open between the railings and the walking part of the bridge. This meant we had to hold my 2.5 year old (in our arms or both her hands) while we were in the caves.
My personal age recommendation for kids for the ice caves tour is 4+. Even then, you may want to hold their hand if they are on the younger end of 4. If you decide to take kids younger than 4, just know that you will likely be holding them while you’re in the caves.
Other Activities at the Shoshone Ice Caves
The gift shop is a lot of fun. They have clothing, geodes, jewelry and other accessories. My older two kids love rocks and picked out a bag of polished rocks to take home.
Rock and Artifact Museum
In a separate building is the rock and artifact museum. It’s filled with a variety of items that have been found in the area, as well as a guest book where you can sign your name and where you are visiting from.
Dino Play Area
There is a small area next to the museum with some dinos to sit on and take pictures. There is also a large green dinosaur you can take a picture in front of near the entrance to the parking lot.
If you love checking out unique and slightly quirky attractions, you’ll definitely want to put the Shoshone Ice Caves on your list!