Minnesota's Mystery Cave welcomes hundreds for New Years hike

- Dealing with the freezing cold can be tough, but a Minnesota marvel is helping to ease the pain.

The "mystery cave" is located just about an hour south of Rochester, and it's providing a safe haven from the sub-zero temperatures – staying at a constant 48-degrees year round.

“It’s just something fun to do on New Years Day and get outside in the below zero temperatures,” said one visitor.

Part of the beauty of the great outdoors of Mystery Cave State Park is that it’s really the great indoors.

“It’s a cave; you’d think it’d be dark and cold, but it’s pretty nice,” another visitor said.

The cave is part of Minnesota’s state park system and is normally open from April to October. But this year, they added it to the state’s New Year’s Day “First Hike” program.

“The response that was generated through this is unbelievable,” Storlie said. “The six initial tours we had filled up in less than 24 hours. Then we added extra tours, and they filled up in two to three hours.”

First Day hikes are in state parks in all 50 states to promote fitness and nature, even when it’s cold.

But the cold took a toll this year, with Minnesota canceling six of its 14 hikes because of dangerous wind chills. Iowa had 26 planned and just canceled all of them.

“People were commenting today that once they came in that they had too much on, too many outer clothes on,” Storlie said.

“I think it’s a great idea. It gets people outside, and doing something and enjoying the beauty of winter,” another visitor said.

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