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Frozen Magical Ice Caves

I’m not into spelunking, nor am I an ice-climber. Somehow I find myself doing a tiny bit of both some 30 minutes away in the outskirts from the town of Rifle, Colorado. (ok, maybe that’s embellishing on the spelunking and ice-climbing part)

Along the way to the ice caves is Rifle Falls State Park with a starting elevation of 6500 feet. The peak is about another 100 above where the spectacular triple falls descend.

Rifle’s Triple Falls

Koper’s Trail

Deeply textured Narrowleaf Cottonwood bark

Cottonwood trees grows well in these parts on the mountains. The year-round water supply, allows these trees to thrive. The Narrowleaf Cottonwood trees can grow up to 60 feet tall.

Narrowleaf from the Cottonwood tree
Gambel’s Oak leaves

Another prominent leaf in these parts of the mountains is the Gambel’s Oak. (Quercus Gambelii). These shrubs grow tight in a bunch. Their root reaches out from underground starting and overlap growth to another bush. The deeply lobed-leaf stands out with its rustic color against the white snow backdrop.

Limestone rock cave
“Let it go.”
Mountain freshness
Healthy vegetation in pure water

The Ice Palace (lower ice cave)

Water seepage creates icicles in cave ceiling
Scale: person to stalactites on left
Scale of stalactites above on left

Walking on ice can be very dangerous. Have proper hiking shoes and wear crampons or similar ice traction attached to the bottom of shoes.

Silky blue to milky white
Art in Ice
Bubble’s out, lights in.

When ice crystals get compressed, the air inside squeezes the bubbles out and the ice crystals enlarge. Without the air bubbles, light penetrate ice without interference, thus creating the ice’s blue color.

Blue wonderland

Final Curtain (Upper Ice Cave)

Following Koper’s Trail will lead you to the upper cave. If the east entrance is almost shut with ice, the trails continues by the stream just a little further down to the west entrance.

The Fang
Layers of buildup without light behind
All in good light
Groundskeeper Granny Elsa?
Scale: two people against the mighty backdrop
Wall of Ice
“The snow creature”
The snow creature II

Unlike the initial curse in Disney’s magical kingdom Arendelle, these ice caves are not doomed to be in perpetual winter. Soon winter and spring will reconcile. “Love will thaw.” The weather will slowly warm up to melt these stalactites. Greenery will return for yet another season.

For address and driving directions please visit: Rifle Mountain Park

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Created By
Raj Manickam
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© 2021 Raj Manickam