If you like to explore nature, chances are you have explored a cave or wanted to. If you have had the great fortune to visit a cave, you likely have noticed that the temperatures inside are very different from the temperature outside. You also may have wondered if all caves have the same variation.
What’s the temperature of caves in different states? The temperature varies from state to state, but it is usually very close to the yearly average temperature of the area they are in. That means that if the yearly average temperature in the state the cave is in is 65 degrees, the cave is going to be very close to that same temperature all year round.
It isn’t just the air temperature in caves that stays the same. Because of the constant temperature, the humidity also doesn’t change much, if at all, throughout the year.
Additionally, if the caves have lakes within them, the water stays at the same temperature as well. The only exception will be if there is running water that flows through the cave from above ground. The water temperature can fluctuate a bit more due to exposure to the elements.
If you’re interested in caving, be sure to read my Beginners Guide and recommended gear section.
Lists of Caves and Their Temperatures
The US is home to hundreds of cave systems that carve their way into over 30 states. They all vary in size and shape, as well as accessibility. Some caves are natural and more of a rugged adventure, while others are fitted with lights, stairs, and other manmade structures for the ease of exploration.
Let’s work our way across the US to see where some of these caves are located and what temperatures they sustain.
Washington doesn’t host very many caves in the state, but what they lack in numbers they make up for in unique qualities!
- Ape Cave: Located in Pinchot National Forest as a part of Mount St. Helens is actually a 2.5 mile-long lava tube. The temperature is a brisk 42.5 degrees!
- Gardner Cave: Located within Crawford State Park, this is the longest limestone cave in Washington state! It also keeps a constant temperature of 41 to 43 degrees.
- Big Four Ice Caves and Paradise Ice Caves: These caves are not the traditional caves like most of the locations on this list. As the name suggests, they are made of ice and formed from avalanches and running water. Naturally, the caves are going to be below freezing temperatures, so bring a coat!
California is a large state that covers a lot of different temperature zones. It also has a lot of caves, so we’ll pick a few from different spots in the state!
- Lake Shasta Caverns: Located in Shasta County, California, in the northern part of the state, Lake Shasta Caverns is a National Natural Landmark. The temperature of the caverns is 58 degrees, but with the humidity levels at 90-95%, the actual temperature is between 68 and 72 degrees.
- Mercer Caverns: Located in Calaveras County nearer the middle of the state, Mercer Caverns hosts a temperature of 55 degrees and 90% humidity.
- Mitchell Caverns: Mitchell Cavers are located within Mitchell Caverns Nature Preserve in San Bernardino County. The temperature is a very comfortable 65 degrees.
Colorado is home to wildly varying elevations and yearly temperatures due to its mountains. The mountains also help to provide some wonderful caves.
- Cave of the Winds: Combined with Manitou Grand Caverns, these caves sit within the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park in El Paso County. The temperature of the caves holds at a cool 54 degrees.
- Glenwood Caverns: The Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Garfield County is another site that has multiple caves. The temperatures within stay around 52 degrees.
Texas may not seem like a likely candidate for caves, but it has many of them. As you might have guessed, the temperature is fantastic!
- Cascade Caverns and Cave Without A Name: Near central Texas in Kendall County, Cascade Caverns is a ½ mile-long limestone cave that hosts its own waterfall (though artificial since the real one kept flooding the cave). Cave Without A Name, though not creatively named, is the 7th longest cave in Texas and has a lot of things to see. The caves both stay at a steady 65 degrees year-round.
- Jacob’s Cave: Okay, this one doesn’t quite count. Jacob’s well is located in Hays County and is an underwater cave. However, even in the deepest parts of its depths, Jacob’s Cave stays at 68 degrees all year.
As you can probably guess, Minnesota has some chilly caves. Let’s take a look at their cold caves.
- Cold Water Cave: Located in Fillmore County, the name gives away some hints about the cave temperature. With the water that enters the cave hanging just above freezing, the cave ranges from 37 to 57 degrees. This cave is also not open to the everyday public visitor because the temperatures and oxygen levels can be very dangerous.
- Niagara Cave: Like most of the major known caves in Minnesota, this is located in Fillmore County. The gorgeous 200-foot cave keeps a temperature of around just 48 degrees! Bring a coat with you if you plan to visit!
Where you have mountains, you have caves, and Tennessee has both!
- Cumberland Caverns: Located in Warren County, Cumberland Caverns is much like all of the other caves in the state regarding temperature, though the overnight tours, walking and crawling tours, and even cave concerts (complete with chandelier) set it apart from the rest. It keeps a cool 56 degrees all year long.
New York Caves
Arriving at one of the most northeastern parts of the country, we reach New York and its caves.
- Clarksville Cave: Located in Albany County, Clarksville Cave is around 4,800 feet long. It also has running water moving through the cave, so getting an average temperature is difficult. The water has such an extreme effect on the cave that you cannot enter when it rains!
- Ellenville Fault Ice Caves: This is another unique cave to visit. It is a natural fault line that has an odd natural phenomenon that causes ice to stay frozen in the cave for most of the year! This, of course, means that the icy portions of Ellenville Fault Ice Caves stay at 32 degrees and below.
While Hawaii doesn’t have much in the way of your traditional caves, it has one amazing adventure below the earth.
- Kazumura Cave: Located in Hawaii County, Kazumura Cave is actually the world’s longest lava tube. It travels over 47 miles! Surprisingly, it only gets to about 65 degrees, even though the average temperature around it is much higher. It also reaches over 3000 feet into the Earth, so that also makes it a bit of an exception.
While this is far from being a comprehensive list of all the caves in the US and their temperatures, it gives you a pretty good idea of what it looks like in different areas. It should at least get you started on your cave exploring adventure!
So, what’s the temperature of caves in different states? The short answer is that it varies from cave to cave. However, no matter their temperature, caves offer a stable, mostly comfortable temperature throughout the entire year, despite how harsh the weather can get outside.
When you’re ready to get started caving, be sure to read my Beginners Guide and check out my recommended gear section.