Minnehaha Falls Winter Ice Cave
Minnehaha Falls Winter Ice Cave

Minnehaha Falls Ice Cave In Winter:

Location: Minnehaha Falls, Minneapolis
Cost: Free, Self-Guided (Parking is $1.25)
Getting Here:  Using the Light Rail Metro it is 19 minutes from the Mall of America, 9 from the Airport, and 20 from Downtown Minneapolis. (Driving Directions).
Time Needed: 60-90 Minutes.
Fun Scale10 out of 10

Full Neighborhood Guide: Minnehaha Falls Walking Tour

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Best Time To Visit The Ice Caves:

During the early and late Winter, you get the best multi-colored rainbow to lighten from behind the ice.  If the falls completely freeze over in the middle of Winter you can typically still access the cave, but you’ll miss out on the great ambiance from the sound of flowing water you have when it is “warmer” mainly to do with the seasonal angle of the sun.  While the trail into the ice cave is technically closed to the public and there are safety considerations, in the peak of Winter the pool below Minnehaha Falls freezes over and is also a very popular vantage point.




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Overview Of Minnehaha Falls In Winter:

Literally meaning Waterfall in the Dakota language, Minnehaha Falls needs to be on your must-do list in the Twin Cities.  Going behind Minnehaha Falls is tons of fun year-round, but during the Winter it freezes into an ice cave that makes it is out of this world.  The beautiful cave formed by the frozen 53-foot-high urban waterfall is easily accessible by foot with just a short hike.  The bright blue glowing ice feels grotto behind the waterfalls and quickly turns into a multi-colored sheet of rainbowed ice as the light shines through.  If you live in or are visiting the Twin Cities you need to make sure to get behind Minnehaha Falls this Winter.

Behind Minnehaha Waterfalls Ice Cave In Winter, Minneapolis As the photo to the left shows, you really have no excuse not to make it behind the waterfalls as even women in the full formal dress were doing it in the late 1800s.  The woman in this photo was probably inspired to visit by the 1855 publication Longfellow’s epic poem The Song of Hiawatha that instantly turned Minnehaha Falls into a desired tourist destination.  In the poem, Minnehaha was used as the fictional name for the lover of Hiawatha, a legendary Native American leader and co-founder of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Today a bronze statue of Hiawatha sits in the park not very far from Minnehaha Falls and it worth a visit.  Other attractions at the park such as the John Stevens and Longfellow Houses close their doors for the winter but can be admired from the outside.







Going Behind The Frozen Waterfalls:

Behind Minnehaha Waterfalls Ice Cave In Winter, Minneapolis Getting to Minnehaha Falls is really easy as it is right in the middle of a large urban park near the Minneapolis Airport.  From either the parking lot or Light Rail Metro stop, you are only a short walk to the main viewing area above the waterfalls.  Before descending the steps to the bottom of the Falls, take in the historic plaques highlighting Minnehaha’s history.  As the photos on the plaques show, numerous Presidents of the United States have visited Minnehaha Falls including Lyndon B Johnson in 1964.

Behind Minnehaha Waterfalls Ice Cave In Winter, Minneapolis You’ll get better and better views of the frozen waterfall as you head down the steps with maybe the best photo opportunity being at the very bottom while on the bridge crossing the river.  On the right bank of the river, you’ll see a rather worn path near the fence that is the most common route to go behind the falls.  This isn’t an “official” park trail, but since there are a couple of sections of wooden steps they obviously are okay with people using it.  Just keep hiking up toward the far right side of the Minnehaha Falls and you’ll find an opening to the ice caves that almost never freezes shut.

After dodging the icicles at the entrance, it is time to free roam in the cave.  The first section is flooded with bright blue light pretty much any time of day and even turns green from time to time.  As you get deeper into the cave the ice will turn from blue to very distinct stripes of rainbow colors.  Make sure to take a few minutes to relax and take in the sound of the flowing Falls.  Consider bringing a lunch to eat behind the falls, just make sure to 100% clean up after yourself to keep the Ice Cave looking beautiful.

Safety Guidelines Around The Waterfalls:

Behind Minnehaha Waterfalls Ice Cave In Winter, Minneapolis We have found it to be safe to visit the Minnehaha Fall ice caves, but use common sense caution and obey warning signs to avoid potential injury.  Not only can there be slippery footing and icicles blocking your path but it is also a waterfall that always has some moderate risk of a piece of ice or eroding limestone giving way.  Even if you want to see the frozen falls without entering the ice cave, the lower public viewing platform will take roughly 120 well-maintained steps down

In the dead of winter when the water and lower pool have completely frozen, the park sometimes lets you walk anywhere you want including all over the frozen pond.  Please use common sense caution, watch your footing, and obey any warning signs the park has posted.

Other Sights Near Minnehaha Falls:

With the park sitting right on the Light Rail Metro line, it makes it really easy to check out a ton of other nearby sights even if don’t have a car.

1. Minnehaha Park: Since you are already right in the middle of the park you might as well check out its other sights.  Some attractions such as the John Stevens and Longfellow Houses close their doors for the Winter, but the park is still very peaceful.  Read More: Minnehaha Falls Walking Tour.

2. Mall of America: America’s largest mall is only a 19 minute Light Rail ride away from Minnehaha Falls.  It is a bit touristy but you have check it out if you are visiting from out of town.  It is so large that is had its own amusement park and has so many visitors that kinetic energy from people feet along heats the complex through the cold Minnesotan Winters.

3. Fort Snelling: Built in 1819 at the confluence of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers, the large fort was the US Governments first true stake in the region which was already occupied by local Native American groups.  Today the Fort is a living museum highlighting what early life in the Twin Cities was like.

4. Crosby Lake ParkLocated just across the just a couple miles away, the Crosby Lakes Park offers some of the best country like experiences you’ll find in a big city.  There are the12 miles of wooded trails, two lakes, and a marina to keep you occupied.  We love the numerous wooden plank trail and go through subtle grassland marsh areas where you’re bound to see wildlife.

5. Downtown Minneapolis: Only a 20-minute ride by Light Rail, Downtown Minneapolis offers a great diversity of actives.

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