The Ice Cave

The temperature in this cave never gets above 31 Degrees F. As rain water and snow melt seep into the cave, the ice floor thickens. The floor of the ice is approximately 20 feet thick. Depending on summer rainfall, the cave floor may accumulate water until the prevailing temperatures drop well below 30 Degrees F. At this time, usually during December or January, the water from summer rainfall will freeze adding new layers of ice to the floor. The deepest ice is the oldest and dates back to 1100 BP. The green tint is caused by an Arctic algae. The back wall was formed in the early days when ancient Indians and early settlers mined the ice. In 1946, ice removal was stopped at which time the ice wall was nearly 12 feet high. Since then, the ice floor has risen relative to the back wall. The rate of ice accumulation varies with annual precipitation. The cause of original formation of ice back in 170 AD is uncertain. However, its perpetuation is due to a combination of existing conditions that make a natural ice box: 20 feet of ice in a well insulated cave shaped to trap frigid air. The Ice Cave was known to the Pueblo Indians as the Winter Lake.