6 Cryptic Caves Around Minnesota

Why would you want to willingly dive into a cave? Maybe you’re a geology nut, the opposite of claustrophobic, or just seeking a spooky thrill. Whatever your motive, here are six caves worth knowing in Minnesota. Mystery Cave State Park, Wykoff Minnesota’s longest cave (and one of the largest cave complexes […]

Why would you want to willingly dive into a cave? Maybe you’re a geology nut, the opposite of claustrophobic, or just seeking a spooky thrill. Whatever your motive, here are six caves worth knowing in Minnesota.


Mystery Cave State Park, Wykoff

Minnesota’s longest cave (and one of the largest cave complexes in North America) discreetly lies below a bucolic prairie landscape in Preston. Fossils, stalactites-and-mites, and flowstone abound along the 13-mile maze of passageways. Unfortunately the four-hour long “wild caving” tour, which involves squeezing through undeveloped cracks in the caves, is unavailable in 2021. But you can get unsettled in nearby Forestville, a restored 1800s village which occasionally offers “guided cemetery hikes.”

Schiek’s Cave, Mpls.

Seventy-five feet beneath the surface of downtown Minneapolis, tunnels snake through the St. Peter Sandstone formation. In 1904, a city sewer engineer stumbled upon the natural cave system, which the city hurriedly fortified and repurposed for sewage drainage. Officials kept the discovery secret for years to avoid the public panicking about the city potentially collapsing into the earth. There’s no public, nor easy, access to Schiek’s Cave, so unless you know a guy, you can’t go see this one. But now you know what’s below while standing at Marquette and South 4th Street.

Wakáŋ Tipi, St. Paul

A centrally located hub of activity for the Dakota people, this sacred cave at the base of a riverside bluff hosted council meetings and ceremonies long before colonization. Dakota scholar and educator Jim Rock describes the cave as “kind of our cosmic belly button in Mother Earth. A place here on Earth that matches a place in the stars.” Wakáŋ Tipi’s domed interior, covered in ancient petroglyphs, was largely destroyed in 1862 when railroad tycoons dynamited the bluff to expand a railyard. Now the remaining entrance of Wakáŋ Tipi is protected, visible from walking trails in the new Bruce Vento Nature Sanctuary. 

Niagara Cave, Harmony 

The largest limestone cave in the Midwest (that we know of) sits on the southern border of Minnesota. Named after the 60 foot waterfall within, Niagara Cave opened as a tourist attraction in 1934. In 1935, two lucky lovers were the first of over 400 couples to be wed in the cave’s chapel. Water carved out the wavy walls lining the pathways to the chapel, the waterfall, a limestone island and a gorge dubbed “the Grand Canyon”. 

Stillwater Caves, Stillwater

After a French fur trader widened natural openings in Stillwater’s Sandstone bluffs, people used the caverns as a trading post, incorporated them into a beer brewing operation and flooded them to stock with trout for a quirky tourist attraction. In more recent years, an Italian restaurant offered a wine tasting cave tour combo within the caves but the operation is currently closed for renovation. Luckily, there’s an above-ground cave to explore nearby. 

Wabasha Street Caves, St. Paul

On tours through the man-made Wabasha Street Caves, blasted out in 1933, guides boast of the caves’ Prohibition-era murder mystery history from kidnappings to shoot-outs. Carved into a St. Paul bluff, the spooky staple also operates an event space and offers ghost tours. After being closed during the pandemic, the recently reopened caves make an easy addition to a creepy fall day trip agenda. 


Don’t worry if you can’t swing a cave visit this fall. Most of these caves retain a stable temperature (around 50 degrees) throughout the year, making them an evergreen escape from Minnesota’s wildly unpredictable weather swings. Happy spelunking!

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