Exploring the unknown at Mystery Cave

If you're looking for something to do this October check out the only cave in the state to be protected as a Minnesota State Park.

Posted: Oct 8, 2021 10:37 PM

PRESTON, Minn. - If you're looking for something to do this October check out the only cave in the state to be protected as a Minnesota State Park.

Cave Specialist, Dawn Ryan, manages Mystery Cave at Forestville-Mystery Cave State Park. It's the longest cave in the state with just over 13 miles of surveyed passage. The tour route offers a half-mile of paved, lit pathways for tour-goers.

"It was discovered in 1937 by a man named Joe Petty. There was another cave called Old Mystery close to here. Joe was a guide there and he was walking along this river here and saw some steam coming out of the rocks. Cavers know that is a sign that there is a cave underneath. He dug into it (during the) winter of 1937, discovered a cave, and it was open to tours by July of the next year," explained Ryan.

The south branch of the Root River is an integral part of the cave, flowing in front of the cave, before sinking 200-yards downstream.

"When it goes into the caves it's cooled down. It emerges 2 miles downstream at the Seven Springs Wildlife Management Area which is an amazing habitat," said Ryan.

On the half-mile hike, you'll see familiar cave formations like stalactites and stalagmites. Ryan also described some unusual formations in the cave, called Raft Cones.

"They (Raft Cones) begin with calcite it uses the surface tension of the water like Water Striders. Calcite drips and floats on the surface and it stays on the surface until something disturbs the water, the tension and those rafts slowly sink to the bottom and over years and years hundreds and thousands of years those rafts build up into making a cone," explained Ryan.

If you're looking for a more adventurous option to explore the unknown underground Ryan says there are different tours offered: photography, wild caving, geology, and lantern.

No matter how you experience the cave it is sure to keep your senses ignited.

"When you leave the surface and go underground it is a whole different experience. Often times on a tour they will turn the lights off on you and you will get to experience complete darkness, you can't even see your hand in front of the face. For me when I'm standing in the cave I see the water gently dripping down. You can't hear the outside noises like airplanes, cars, things like that. It is time when you are completely surrounded by the earth and it is a really neat experience," said Ryan.

Mystery Cave is home to four different types of bats, but Ryan described a dwindling population due to White Nose Syndrome, in which 94% of the population has died.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

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Reported Deaths: 9462
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Hennepin1749772017
Ramsey722701040
Dakota66032572
Anoka62513568
Washington39357355
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St. Louis28761399
Wright25354211
Scott25329181
Olmsted21750127
Sherburne18478126
Carver1629166
Clay11923103
Blue Earth1126366
Rice11234138
Crow Wing11003122
Chisago974676
Kandiyohi9660106
Otter Tail9611126
Benton8815124
Beltrami801794
Goodhue786596
Douglas7689100
Itasca752796
Mower721349
Winona702756
McLeod694483
Isanti681383
Steele669431
Morrison663479
Becker620873
Polk591684
Freeborn550846
Carlton529474
Nobles521654
Lyon518761
Mille Lacs516573
Nicollet510960
Pine500641
Cass491252
Todd483642
Brown465057
Le Sueur445933
Meeker422357
Martin378143
Wabasha366010
Waseca365132
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Hubbard349848
Roseau307931
Fillmore299115
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Houston266817
Renville264151
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Pennington247529
Sibley246917
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Murray150911
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Cook3020

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

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Cases: 520452

Reported Deaths: 7289
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Polk80319799
Linn32142424
Scott26637292
Black Hawk21974378
Woodbury20490258
Johnson19778105
Dubuque18515241
Pottawattamie15890213
Dallas15320113
Story1380258
Warren8450104
Cerro Gordo7964123
Clinton7725114
Webster7326122
Des Moines7098105
Marshall669093
Muscatine6645117
Wapello6441144
Jasper619591
Sioux610177
Lee5908105
Marion557897
Buena Vista502149
Plymouth488388
Henry418655
Benton404859
Jones404862
Unassigned40470
Bremer395372
Washington391463
Boone389739
Carroll367755
Mahaska365365
Crawford353747
Dickinson314655
Jackson307747
Buchanan305741
Clay295536
Delaware294654
Kossuth289077
Fayette286353
Hardin284353
Tama279777
Page272533
Wright266149
Cedar265527
Hamilton259857
Winneshiek258143
Floyd255449
Clayton244459
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Madison234525
Harrison234379
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Butler232744
Iowa229634
Jefferson223043
Mills220930
Winnebago215938
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Lyon206142
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Allamakee203955
Calhoun196919
Shelby196442
Union191141
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Franklin183029
Mitchell182043
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