A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

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A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby JR-Orion » Oct 20, 2009 8:57 pm

OK, I'm trying to do a you-are-there type report on this place, with lots of pictures and descriptions. I initially set photobucket to 800x600, but this forum didn't like that. Resized things to 640x480, and that didn't work either (still too big, I guess). The next size down that photobucket has is 320x240, and that's not really worth posting.

So, what next?

If I set photobucket up with image clickable thumbnails that you can click to enlarge, would that work?

Thanks!
Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby NZcaver » Oct 21, 2009 1:45 pm

How-to information about posting photos on the forum can be found here in the Please Read section. I've moved a few posts from this topic to there.

JR-Orion - you're welcome to post your trip reports and thumbnails here.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby JR-Orion » Oct 21, 2009 4:05 pm

OK, I think my technical issues have been solved thanks to some good advice here.

Here goes!

There is a parking lot with a picnic shelter and bathrooms. That's where I always start out.

I believe this is called the upper entrance to Dancehall Cave. Follow the steps down-

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There's a stream running through the cave, and some taller types might have to stoop down for a while-

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But then things open up. There are a few lights inside Dancehall, but a flashlight is still a great idea. After a while, there is a 90 degree bend, and if you look up some on the right you can see the entrance to Bat Passage. It is not marked-

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There are no lights in here, and it can be a little cramped. There is some mud but in most parts the passage has been worn smooth by all the traffic-

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A little pool inside Bat Passage-

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The black void up ahead is where the passage joins the main part of Dancehall Cave. But it's 10 feet off the ground, so I turned back and went out the way I went in. A fun little passage.

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Continuing on in Dancehall, you eventually come to the Middle Entrance, where you can go up the stairs and out, or keep going through the main cave.

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Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby JR-Orion » Oct 21, 2009 4:32 pm

Once you are in the middle entrance area, on the right there is the entrance to Steel Gate Passage (it's not marked). This was by far my favorite cave in the park, but I didn't take my camera with me. I'll get it next time.

Here's the lower entrance (or exit in my case) of Dancehall Cave-

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Follow the wooden path to the next cave-

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The entrance to Rainy Day Cave (note the stream flowing out on the right)-

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You start off in a standing room passage, but if you want to go back deeper, follow the water-

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Time to crawl through some water

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Eventually water and ceiling meet, and that's the end of Rainy Day Cave

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Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby Squirrel Girl » Oct 21, 2009 5:59 pm

Glad you're having a fun time, JR! It sure brings back a lot of memories!!
Barbara Anne am Ende

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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby JR-Orion » Oct 22, 2009 9:58 am

Squirrel Girl wrote:Glad you're having a fun time, JR! It sure brings back a lot of memories!!


It's been great! I know it's not much compared to some parts of the country, but I'm thrilled to have some caves so close to home.

Will post more pics later. And I can't wait to get back into Steel Gate Passage (with my camera next time).

:cavingrocks:
Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby Chads93GT » Oct 24, 2009 5:08 pm

My wife took me there on our 2nd or 4th date, back when we were both spelunkers. I have some goofy photos from that trip with our super crappy head lamps on, no pads, no nothing. Sure was brutal crawling into those really tight passages.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby JR-Orion » Nov 2, 2009 6:17 pm

Chads93GT wrote:My wife took me there on our 2nd or 4th date, back when we were both spelunkers. I have some goofy photos from that trip with our super crappy head lamps on, no pads, no nothing. Sure was brutal crawling into those really tight passages.


Yeah, it's much nicer when you have good gear, that's for sure. I picked up a Petzl Spelios and some coveralls from Lost Creek. I've been happy with both.
Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby JR-Orion » Nov 2, 2009 6:28 pm

OK, if you go back to the parking lot / restroom area, you'll see a sign for Wye Cave and a caver wash-off station.

Here's the entrance to Wye Cave-

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Yep, it was snowing in early October-

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I figured the entrance would be a normal, walk in cave, like you get elsewhere in the park. Nope. :)

Going down?

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It was so steamy down there that my camera lens fogged up, so no pics. Once you get down there, it opens up, and you go down a diagonal slope for a while, stepping over rocks and boulders. Eventually you reach a narrow pinch. The day I was there it was filled with water, so I didn't try it, and missed the second half of the cave. Wye Cave is 475 feet long, not bad for Iowa. Since I'm only an hour away from the park, I'll check it out once things dry up some.
Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby JR-Orion » Nov 2, 2009 9:19 pm

Here's the entrance to Ice Cave-

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I think the name comes from the white look of the ceiling-

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There's a little room at the back, just the right size to take a break with a few friends. Unfortunately, someone hit the back wall with some spray paint-

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Tiny little white stalactite growing on the ceiling-

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It looks so organic and alive. Like something out of Alien.

Popcorn on a wall-

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And finally, here's my son clapping as he tries to cross a stream-

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Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby Illinois Caver » Nov 19, 2009 11:21 am

I make the pilgrimage ever couple years to Maquoketa. I take our school's science club there to introduce cave geology and caving. I teach jr. high science so, Dancehall Cave makes a good introduction to cave geology. I take some of the more daring student up in the Gate Entrance and we can get a more "in-depth" look at caving. We also hit Up-n-Down, H. Hideway, Ice Cave, and Rainy Day. If we have time we'll scout around the other caves. I don't take students to Wye as I the climb-down can be tricky.

I haven't been to Maquoketa since the rescue that took place about a year ago in the Gate Passage. My understanding is that they had to blast some rock in order to get the person out.

I check my files and see if I have some pictures of the Maquoketa, though Dave Carson from the Near Normal Grotto and I did a video of the caves as an introduction to caving and cave geology for my classes.

Photos Look Good and Bring Back Memories!

Cave Softly...If You Can find Caves W/Out WNS!!

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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby JR-Orion » Nov 19, 2009 1:30 pm

Wow, I hadn't heard about the rescue you mentioned. I did find this article-

http://www.qctimes.com/news/state-and-r ... a9f27.html

"The youth apparently had been in the cave before and was wearing spelunking equipment. Officials say he slipped in a V-shaped cave known as Steel Gate Passage and got his legs stuck in a 90-degree angled part of the cave and couldn’t twist or pull himself out."

It goes on to say they had to cut some stalactites... I guess based on that next time I'm in there I could try to figure out where the poor guy got stuck. Creepy.

So do you get any "wows" out of junior high kids when you take them in there? I remember that some of us were rather difficult and hard to impress at that age.
Letting the days go by / water flowing underground
Into the blue again / in the silent water
Under the rocks and stones / there is water underground.
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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby Illinois Caver » Nov 25, 2009 10:20 am

Hi Jasen,

My understanding is the person got caught in an area in the Gate Passage where you have to climb up about 7 feet a bit into the passage. If it is the place I'm thinking of, there are couple of columns, and flowstone there. I've taken students that way and am present and helping them through that section.

I find that many of the students are impressed because it is an activity that is so foreign to them. It is a chance to "explore and discover." Of course I also prep them up a bit by talking about my experiences in class. I'm also fortunate to have participated in some projects that I am able to share with them. Though my caving has been curtailed a bit due to school committments this year, I still have many many stories I can dig out to capture their attention.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!!

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Re: A few trips to Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa

Postby Chads93GT » Nov 25, 2009 2:36 pm

Found the problem, they were wearing spelunking equipment, not caving gear ;)
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