7 Fascinating Caves in Minnesota to Explore

Wabasha Street Caves entrance

Minnesota isn’t the first state to come to mind when considering caves. Still, the combination of rocks, sediment, and moving water has created some incredible natural caves across the state, a few of which are open to the public and available for tours. These are the best caves in Minnesota to visit.

Many of the caves first grew along the tributaries of the Mississippi River and are located in the Twin Cities area and the state’s Southeast corner. You’ll find one of the best caves, Mystery Cave, along the southern border of the state.

If you visit the Land of 10,000 Lakes, consider adding a cave tour or two to your itinerary. Here are some of the coolest caves in Minnesota to discover and visit during your vacation.

The Best Caves in Minnesota to Explore

1. Niagara Cave

Lighted trail path in underground in Niagara Cave, Minnesota
Lost_in_the_Midwest / Adobe Stock

Address: 29842 Co Rd 30, Harmony, MN 55939

Like other caves throughout Southern Minnesota, Niagara Cave is a limestone cave. The cave travels about 200 feet into the ground in Harmony, Minnesota.

Niagara Cave is a few hours outside the Twin Cities. Some cool features include a 60-foot waterfall, fossils, and rock formations growing from the ceiling and floor, called stalactites and stalagmites. 

Since you’ll likely fly into Minnesota if you’re from out of state, you may want to rent a vacation home like this dreamy summer escape. Harmony is about an hour from Rochester, which makes for a great day trip, too.

See Related: Best Tours in Minnesota

2. Mystery Cave

Inside the Mystery Cave in Minnesota
McGhiever / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0

 Address: 21071 County Rd 118, Preston, MN 55965

Mystery Cave is a notable tourist attraction in Minnesota as it’s the longest cave in the state. The cave was formed 500,000 and 1,000,000 years ago by moving water and eroding sediments.

Inside the cave itself, the temperature is a consistent 48 degrees. You’ll want to bring a hoodie or sweater if you get cold easily!

The Forestville Mystery Cave State Park is a good day spot. When you’ve finished your cave tour, walk through the 19th-century village on site.

See Related: Best State Parks in Minnesota to Visit

 3. Soudan Underground Mine

Soudan Underground Mine State Park, Minnesota
Jacob Boomsma / Shutterstock

Address: 1302 McKinley Park Rd, Soudan, MN 55782

Located just south of Lake Vermillion, Soudan Underground Mine State Park houses Soudan Underground Mine. The mine was the first iron ore mine in the state when it opened in the 1880s.

Guided tours of the surface facilities that once supported the area’s mining efforts are regularly available for a nominal fee, and the mine is occasionally open for tours, too.

This area is gorgeous but a bit in the sticks. There aren’t many hotels nearby, but you’ll find many gorgeous vacation rentals on Lake Vermillion, like this lakefront paradise.

See Related: Gooseberry Falls State Park: Things to See & Do

 4. Wabasha Street Caves

Wabasha Street Caves Entrance
Steve / Adobe Stock

Address: 215 Wabasha St S, St Paul, MN 55107

The Wabasha Street Caves are an excellent part of any trip to the Twin Cities and are not like your average subterranean cave tour experience. The Wabasha Street Caves are believed to house the ghosts of the Prohibition Era.

The caves were popular with gangsters in the 1930s. It’s rumored that spirits of John Dillinger, Ma Barker, and Baby Face Nelson have been encountered here.

During your tour, you’ll love learning about the intersection of American history and the area’s geology. Make a day of it and add a Twin Cities ghost tour to your itinerary for even more fun!

See Related: Things to Do in St. Paul, Minnesota

5. Tyson Spring Cave

Tyson Spring Cave in Minnesota
Cave Preserve / Cave Preserve

 Address: Big Spring, Harmony Township, MN 55939

The Tyson Spring Caves are located in Southeast Minnesota, like many other caves in the state. The Minnesota Cave Preserve owns the cave, which allows researchers and spelunkers access to the cave down a 115-foot access shaft.

The cave’s fame was renewed in 2008 when explorers found ancient ice-age animal bones in an excavated passageway. Don’t forget travel insurance should you engage in some adventures during your travels.

See Related: Things to Do in Rochester, Minnesota

6. Minnehaha Falls

Frozen Minnehaha Falls and Ice Cave
Douglas R. Feltman / Shutterstock

Address: 4801 S Minnehaha Drive Minneapolis, MN 55417

Located within Minnehaha Regional Park, the Minnehaha Falls area and its caves offer an awesome experience in the winter when the falls turn to ice. The waterfall and caves are an excellent choice for adventure while visiting the Twin Cities, especially if you’re traveling with kids.

If you’re staying in one of the hotels near the Mall of America (such as Element Bloomington), you can reach this waterfall with a 20-minute ride on the metro system. Locals say the best time to visit the caves is in the fall when the sun’s position beautifully lights the colors of the waterfall.

See Related: Best Things to Do at the Mall of America

BONUS! 7. Schieks Cave

Address: Downtown Minneapolis, MN 55401

Schiek’s Cave was discovered in 1904 by a sewer worker and is another one of the caves located below the City of Minneapolis. This is the largest cave in the city.

Officials initially kept the cave a secret because they thought the residents would believe the city was about to fall into the earth through the cave! It’s vast, full of twists, turns, and running water.

Few people have been able to access this cave. There used to be a route near the base of the Stone Arch Bridge, but it has since been sealed up.

See Related: Where to Stay in Minneapolis: Best Neighborhoods & Areas

 FAQ

Why are there so many caves in Southeast Minnesota?

Over time, water underneath the ground in Minnesota wore away at the rocks and led to the formation of caves. Today, you might see a cavern or an underground lake formed over thousands of years by water that eventually made its way to the surface and became part of the Mississippi River.

What is the “mystery cave?”

Due to its size, Mystery Cave is one of the most famous Minnesota caves. With over 13 miles of passageways, the cave is the longest in the state. The cave was named by local kids hired to clear debris from it so people could tour and explore it.

Where is Mystery Cave State Park Located?

This state park is located in Southern Minnesota and is part of the Forestville State Park area. The park offers cave tours, streams for trout fishing, camping opportunities, and trails appropriate for horseback riding.

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Kyle Kroeger
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Kyle Kroeger

Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He's a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he'd heard.

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He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time. Read more about his portfolio of work.