Cherney Maribel Caves County Park – Two Rivers
Cherney Maribel Caves County Park is not a lightweight roadtrip; it demands that you explore every crevasse of the rich deposits of Niagara Dolomite. From Oshkosh, the Town of Maribel is 1 hour 12 minutes of rural highway driving, 2 full hours when slowing down to look at cows. Seriously, I saw one Brown Swiss Cow whose udders was painfully weighed down by milk that she could not walk normally. I remember those days, and shudder from the mammary (ha-ha, I could not resist).
This park is very much like Horicon Ledge (Dodge County Ledge), with the large glacial rock formations, the mossy boulders, the slippery crags, the spiders, the bats – need I go on? Alright, I was a bit overboard on the bats, but the environment is very similar (The main differences are that Horicon Ledge has Ledges, and not Caves).
Of the caves: there are several: Tartarus, Coopers, Pancake, Spring, and New Hope. On the day of my visit the Wisconsin Speleological Society was working in the New Hope Cave. The entrance to this cave is closed to the public unless one of the volunteer groups are on working on site and will give tours. I did not explore the entire cave, as you move deeper in there is water present and my shoes were open heeled clogs, so I stayed and listened to one of the Spelunkers (to be named Savvy Spelunker) who talked about the excavations of the caves. It was really quite interesting, but I’m afraid that I don’t remember all of it, other than when he discussed the Tartarus, he believed there was more another part of the cave yet to be revealed. The cave on this day was relatively dry.
One of the characteristics in New Hope Cave is called Moon Milk – a white creamy deposit that is created by the water seepage from the cracks (life lines) in the cave ceiling. There is some question whether it is a chemical or bacterial reaction. Either way, it doesn’t drip on your head, if you are worried about that kind of thing. The formation of caves themselves is fascinating, and it all has to do with the way water wears away rock, leaving crevasses for moss and other lifeforms to exist. This is over millions of years
One of the sad parts of this Journey is when great locations cannot be reported on as a Wheretogo location because of a natural disaster. We can only reminisce and show proof of it’s once exalted existence. As you read on you will understand why I include this disclaimer.
Maribel Caves Hotel, “Hotel Hell” This lovely stone building has since been demolished by a tornado that ripped through the area August 2013. Places that have cataloged it’s history is Unexplained Research – Motel Hell, Wisconsin Sickness – Hotel Hell, Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter – Maribel Caves Hotel
Maribel Caves County Park was worth the Road Trip, and I will place this as my #2 Wheretogo Winner. A declaration was made when I arrived home, travel worn and sunburned.
Where to find: 15401 County Rd R, Maribel, WI 54227 Phone: 920- 683-4185. Open from April 1st – October 31st from dawn to dusk, weather permitting.
From I-43 and State Highway 147: one mile east of Maribel, go east on 147 0.3 mile, then north on County Highway R 0.6 mile to the entrance of Cherney Maribel Caves County Park, proceed 0.25 mile to the parking area. Website: www.maribelcaves.com
Park Trail Map:
What to expect: Cave tours are announced on the front page of their website. Dogs are allowed (leashed). Trails are mild-medium difficultPublic Wear appropriate shoes, especially if you plan to investigate New Hope Cave. LETTERBOX LOCATION