Paris Ice Cave
Located just 20 miles from Garden City, Utah is Paris, Idaho and the beautiful Paris Canyon. This canyon offers primitive camping opportunities, hiking, ATV trails, and a unique geological location called the Paris Ice Cave.
The cave gets its name “Ice Cave” because the ice never melts, even in the hottest of summers. Water and runoff descends from the surrounding hills into the cave, creating the ice formations.
The recommended time to visit is late summer and early fall when the water dries out, making exploration of the cave easier. Visiting the Ice Cave in late spring is going to require a little more effort and preparation, as heavy snow and drifts will limit canyon access. We visited the Ice Cave in late May. With the snowfall below average during the winter of 2013/2014, and the unseasonably warm temperatures in early April, we were optimistic about reaching and enjoying the Paris Ice Cave. But just in case, we knew we’d be content with a nice relaxing drive through the beautiful canyon.
The Ice Cave is located 9.6 miles from the mouth of the canyon. The canyon road is a well-graded dirt road which is fairly passable for most vehicles during dry conditions. As we continued our journey up the canyon, we came to the only junction in the road that you must take to reach the cave. From this junction, a Forest Service sign marked the cave parking lot at 5 miles.
As we continued another 3 miles it was obvious that driving to the cave was no longer going to be an option, as large drifts of snow covered the canyon road. At this point we had a decision to make: turn around or load up the packs and continue our journey on foot. The day was perfect and the scenery was beautiful, so the decision was easy; we loaded up the packs and began our trek up the canyon road.
The hike up the canyon road consisted of a little elevation gain, walking through large patches of hard packed snow, and navigating around pools of water from the melting snow. Admittedly there was talk of turning around and visiting the cave another day. But we pushed on and finally reached the mouth of the Paris Ice Cave.
Visiting in late spring provided an even more unique experience, as the snow melting above was making its way through the cracks and consistently dripping into the cave and down the ice formations. The cave floor was solid ice and the sounds of the dripping and flowing water into the cave were not only a little eerie, but relaxing at the same time. A visit in late spring provides a glimpse into the ongoing forces that continue to transform the Paris Ice Cave.
If you want to experience the cave, and you’re willing to put forth the effort to reach the cave, visiting in late spring (May/June) will provide you with an awesome experience. But of course visiting at this time of year requires different gear, so make sure you’re prepared.
For an easier, more enjoyable visit, just wait until later in the summer and drive your ATV or vehicle right outside the cave entrance. Either way you choose to visit the Paris Ice Cave, it will be an experience that the whole family will enjoy and remember for many years to come.
As a side note, the Paris Ice Cave is beautiful in its own way. If you are searching for a cave that offers stalagmites, stalactites, and other beautiful formations for which underground caves are known, you may want to visit the Minnetonka Cave, which is located just 7 miles south of Paris, Idaho.
Montpelier Ranger District
322 N. 4th Street
Montpelier, ID 83254
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