The Shoshone ice cave is clearly a tourist trap but we decided it would be fun to see it anyways, and then compare it to a non-commercialized cave that Dean knew about. The commercial ice cave does indeed have a lake of ice in it, and it is indeed around 0C in there despite being 30+C outside. Apparently the flow of air through the rocks and the entrance cools the air and acts like a natural AC unit, keeping the cave cool enough for ice to form and accumulate. In fact the staff have to keep draining water off the surface of the ice lake before it freezes and adds to the depth, otherwise the cave would completely fill up with ice and be inaccessible.
|About to get down and dirty to access the T cave.|
The undeveloped T cave was especially interesting because of all the geologic oddities we found inside...high tide marks from the various lava flows, weird concretions on the floor and ceiling, calcium (?) deposits forming ribs, and the perfect half dome ceiling of the lava tube every so often. Remarkably the entire cave system was free of vandalism or trash, as I think the small entrance and necessary crawling bit at the beginning discourage most casual visitors :) Oh yeah we also found an ancillary "bat cave" on the way back out; hopefully Dean got some good photos of them hanging from the ceiling.
My photos are here, but those with better low-light cameras will likely have better shots!
Dean has posted his photos here.