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Glacier Ice Caves

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ice cave interior with gravel floor and a small stream
Ice pillar in an ice cave in Brady ice field, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska.

NPS photo.

Introduction

black and white photo from inside an ice cave looking out at a group of people
Historic photo of mountaineers in an ice cave under Paradise Glacier, Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

Gerald W. Williams Collection, Oregon State University Libraries.

Sometimes, melting at the margin of a glacier may cause small caves to form within the ice, between the ice and the bedrock, or between the ice and the sediment beneath it. Ice caves can also form where water exits from beneath the glacier or where the ice flows over a large bump its bed.

Glacier ice caves are cold, with icy water dripping from their roofs. Sometimes, rocks and debris that the glacier has picked up melt out and drop into the caves. People interested in exploring ice caves should wear helmets, as they would in other kinds of caves.

Glacier Ice Caves are sometimes referred to as "ice caves", but the term ice caves is more commonly used for caves in rock which contain ice year-round.

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    Related Links

    To learn more about glaciers, glacier features, and glacial landforms, see the Glaciers & Glacial Landforms page.

    To learn more about caves and karst landforms, and ice features in caves, see the Ice Caves page. [Site Under Development]

    Last updated: February 5, 2021