Dunning's Spring

Useful Information

Location: River Trail Trail Head, Ice Cave Rd, Decorah, IA 52101.
Decorah is reached on Highway 52 from the north or south, or on Highway 9 from the east or west. From 52 turn into Pole Line Rd east, from 9 into Montogmery Street North. This is actually the same road, in the middle part it is called College Dr., turn west on Quarry Rd, ignore Road Closed Ahead sign. The River Trail Trail Head parking lot is accessible. Dunning's Spring Park, Decorah.
(43.311793, -91.790144)
Open: no restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: KarstKarst Spring
Light: n/a
Guided tours: self guided
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Address: Dunning's Spring Park, Ice Cave Rd, Decorah, IA 52101, Tel: +1-563-382-4158. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


2020 Ice Cave Rd. closed.


Dunning's Spring is a karst spring, where the underground drainage of the catchment area ends and the water reappears on the surface, just to flow into the Upper Iowa River after 350 m. The short hike starts at River Trail Trail Head parking lot on Ice Cave Rd. It's a 300 m long single lane gravel road and then a short ascend on a walking trail to the spring. The river gushes down a series of rapids until it meets Upper Iowa River, but they call it a "spectacular 200-foot waterfall". We guess the "spectacular" is actually true.

The spring is a bedding spring, the water is blocked by a layer of impermeable rock, forming a hanging water body in the karstified rock. There is probably a cave behind, but most like there are only widened cracks which are not big enough. The caves or openings are not accessible, the entrances are covered by debris, the water flows out of the cracks in the debris. The rapids seem to be the main sight, unfortunately most people skip the last 30 m to see the actual spring. That's why we list the spring and not the falls.