Glacier Ice Caves

Historic photo of mountaineers in an ice cave under Paradise Glacier (Mt. Rainier National Park, WA)
Historic photo of mountaineers in an ice cave under Paradise Glacier (Mt. 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 differ from ice caves, which form in rock and contain ice.

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

Last updated: February 9, 2018