Crystal Lake Cave

Marcus Cave, Rice's Cave, Linden's Cave

Useful Information

Location: 5km South of Dubuque on Hwy 52. (SW1/4 SE1/4 NW1/4 Section 16, T88N R3E)
Open: MAY Sat, Sun 9-17.
JUN to AUG daily 9-18.
SEP Mon-Fri 11-17, Sat, Sun 9-17.
OCT Sat, Sun 11-16.
Last tour 45min before closing. [2004]
Fee: Adults USD 10, Children (5-11) EUR 5, Seniors EUR 9.
Classification: ExplainKarst cave, Galena Group Limestone.
Light: electric
Dimension: T=10°C, L=6,000m.
Guided tours: L=1,200m, D=45min.
Bibliography: Roger Kehret (1976): Your Guide to Crystal Lake Cave, published by the author, Chatfield, Minnesota 1976, 20 pp, many B&W photo, SB.
Greg A Brick (2004): Iowa Underground / A guide to the state's subterranean treasures, Trail Books, Wisconsin. 223 pp, numerous illus. pp 16-18.
Address: Crystal Lake Cave, 7699 Crystal Lake Drive, Hwy 52 South, Dubuque, IA 52003-9504, Tel. +1-563-556-6451. E-mail: contact
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1868 the miner James Rice discovered Rice's Cave.
the new owner Charles Linden renamed the cave Linden's Cave.
1932 opened to the public by Bernard Markus.
1932-1944 the cave was maintained by Bernard Markus, the son-in-law of Charles Linden. He renamed it Crystal Lake Cave in the late 1930s.
1944-1978 the cave was owned by Herbert Knockel and his wife Evlyn.
1978 the current owners, James and Doris Rubel took over ownership.


Crystal Lake Cave was discovered by miners in search for lead ore. The area around Dubuque has many mines. At the bottom of a 14 m deep shaft they found a crevice, which was explored by James Rice for 230m. Since this time the cave was shown to visitors. Todays name was inspired by a 10 m long crystal lake, which is 60 cm deep.

Apart from stairs at the entrance and exit, the cave is formed on one level and is a typical maze cave, formed along cross joints. Each intersection is at a right angle to the main joint. The passages are of uniform dimensions, about two meters high and go with a level floor and in a straight line for some distance. The original miners shaft can be seen at the bottom of the entrance stairs. Speleothem are numerous and there are helictites and aragonite crystals. The tour begins at one end and exits through another, the only stairs are at either end.

Text by Tony Oldham (2004). With kind permission.