Okay, so technically the Paris Ice Cave is in Idaho, but it's not far from Bear Lake, one of northern Utah's favorite recreation spots. Google maps puts the cave about a 51 minute drive from Garden City, Utah, and from having driven to the ice caves from Garden City, that is pretty accurate.
To get to the ice caves take highway 89 north from Garden City. You'll have some great views of the lake on your way as you pass through Fish Haven, St. Charles and then shortly after Bloomington you'll arrive in Paris. Turn left on 2nd Street as you come into town and follow that road all the way to the cave. It will quickly turn into a dirt road, and while there are various offshoots the way to the cave is well marked with signs. It is just under 10 miles from the left turn to the cave and the road is passable by most vehicles in normal weather conditions.
Half the fun is getting to the cave, it's a quiet country road for the most part with beautiful views of Paris canyon complete with quaking aspen forests which turn beautiful colors in the fall. Just before mile 10 on your odometer, you'll see a large sign just off the road that marks the location of the cave and a big dirt parking area to the right that can accommodate 10-15 cars. A small trail about 75 yards long leads from the sign to the cave.
The trail zig zags into the cave opening, and a wooden platform has been built through the first part of the cave to keep your feet dry from all the water created by the snow and ice that has melted during the hot summer months. From the walk way the cave opens up to a 40 by 50 foot room surrounded by rock walls on all sides. We visited the cave in the early fall before any snow fall and still found snow and ice in this part of the cave that had not melted from the previous year. If you go in the spring or early summer, expect to find a lot more snow.
This part of the cave is a great place for everyone to explore and is accessible by most everyone. For many the exploration of the cave stops here, but for those seeking a little more adventure another room can be accessed through a narrow passage which then opens to the most interesting part of the cave.
On the opposite side from where you entered the main room, you'll see a lot of rock fall and a big dark crack, that some mistakenly think goes down to the ground and ends. But if you've brought a flashlight (which I highly recommend) you'll be able to see that the cave goes deeper into the ground. After having to crouch down for maybe 10 feet, the cave will open up again into a room similar in size to the first.
The big difference being that this room has only one mall opening in the far end of the cave, so it is much darker and requires a light. Also because of the lack of daylight entering this part of the cave, most of the floor of the cave is coated with ice, so make sure to bring some shoes with grip. A pair of yaktraks or other traction device might not be a bad idea.
At the far end of this room is an opening where you can reach daylight, however this opening is surrounded by stone walls, making it a tough exit. While I have heard some enter the cave this way by repelling from above, I recommend you enter and exit this room through the normal cave entrance.
Most people spend an hour or less exploring the cave, but I think it is a great side trip because it is accessible to just about everyone, adults, kids the aged, and pretty interesting especially for people who don't have a lot of cave experience. Plus the drive out is through some beautiful country. If you plan to be in the Bear Lake area and have some extra time I definitely recommend checking out this cave. Future Bear Lake side trips I'll cover are Lupine Trail, Minnetonka Cave and of course a comparison of all the great shake places around the lake so stay tuned.
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