Maquoketa caves state park

Couldn’t wait for another adventure and this time it was cave hunting. We were returning from Chicago and on the way discovered that there were a few things worthy seeing and one of them was the Maquoketa caves. The name almost rhymed with Nachiketa whose story I forgot and googled it once home. Well that’s another story and we can leave it there. It was pouring lightly when we started from Chicago that made us wonder if we would be able to explore the caves. We weren’t geared up to go deep within and I was a little scared of the narrowness and darkness inside.

After almost 4 hrs drive from Chicago, we reached the entrance of the Maquoketa state park, located in Jackson County,northwest of the city of Maquoketa. At first we couldn’t locate the visitor center and found an abandoned house instead. We followed the arrow marks that led us to a parking lot. The place was desolate except for the small shaded area that looked like the visitor center and the person there handed us a small map of the caves. With that we headed down the wooded stairs that led to the caves.


We walked through the natural bridge and the dance hall cave, which are the signature attractions of the park.

The attendant at the visitor center told us that if you want to get dirty you can crawl through the rest of the caves. We neither had extra clothes nor any flashlights or helmets or knee pads and so decided to just explore the area where we could walk through. Unlike most of the caves that we had earlier been to, there were no tour guides to help us through the caves. Maybe that’s the best part of the adventure here, though I have read about people getting lost as well.


I wore the hood to protect myself from the rain. The temperature down was also slightly low and so it was a good protection for me.


The narrow path leading to the cave was lit by small bulbs above which helped us see through.


It wasn’t a very long trip down but we enjoyed exploring on our own without any guide and at our leisure.


There is another path leading to other caves which was all muddy and slippery and we left it for some other time if possible. We could see some smaller caves( holes rather) as well which I presumed were the ones  that the attendant had told us we could get through only by crawling on our bellies.


There is also a campground and picnic ground for casual visitors as well as adventure seekers.A wash off station for cavers is located in the upper picnic area.


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