Frequently Asked Questions

The Polar Caves were formed about 50,000 years ago as the third continental glacier descended over New Hampshire’s White Mountains. When the ice retreated, it left behind an amazing series of caves and passageways to explore! A self-guided tour through Polar Caves will take you to the rock garden, on the nature trails and through the nine caves in the park. 
How accessible is Polar Caves?
All nine caves are situated on or around Hawk’s Cliff. There are many stairs that connect the caves; wheelchairs, scooters and strollers will not make it on the boardwalk. 
Our animal area is accessible .  
Strollers, baby-back carriers?
The Polar Caves were formed 50,000 years ago, long before the invention of strollers and baby-back carriers. Neither of these modern conveniences work well while touring the caves. There are some tight spots where strollers will not fit. A baby-back carrier leaves the child exposed to hitting rocks when the parent ducks in a cave. 
But I wear Flip-flops year-round….
Flip-flops are not recommended; they don’t offer good support on the terrain in and around the caves. While we will not refuse you entrance for wearing flip-flops, please be aware that the steel stairs can snag a toe and the areas around the caves may swallow one flip-flop and it will never be seen again.
Are the caves cold?
Most of the caves stay around 55 degrees, but they are all linked together by many sets of stairs, so you tend to be very warm by the time you are finished exploring. Depending on the season, you may want to bring a jacket, but most of the summer a jacket is not needed.
But it is Raining…
We are open rain or shine; however, if it is very early or very late in our season, we will close early if the park is empty, usually 4:30 p.m. Feel free to call before you come: 603-536-1888.
How long should I plan to be there?
A self-guided tour takes about 2 hours, but feel free to stay the whole day. If you’d like to leave and come back, just be sure we stamp your hand.
Why is it called Polar Caves?
The Polar Caves were formed about 50,000 years ago as the third continental glacier descended over New Hampshire’s White Mountains. When the caves were originally discovered, the cold breeze exiting them was described as “polar,” giving the caves their name. While our mascot is a Polar Bear, as far as we know, none have ever lived here.
We love dogs but,

Since Polar Caves Park includes an animal area, we cannot allow dogs into the park. 

When is the best time of day to visit?
If you’d like to avoid crowds, plan to visit early or late in the day. Our busiest hours are between 11 am and 2 pm. In the summer, we sell our last ticket at 5 pm, but you can stay in the park until around 6 pm. If you arrive after 4 pm, please exlpore the caves first because they are the first part of the park to close. Please take your time in the animal area and gift shop.
Interested in the Geology?

Geology of Polar Caves
Located on Route 25, 4-miles west of Plymouth, NH
Francis Haley, B.S., M. S, Head of Department of Geology, Tyler College
and Mark T. Sylvester, B. Ed. M. Ed., Science Department
Plymouth State College

The geology of the Polar Caves began during Paleozoic Era of geologic time, 200 to 300 million years ago. During that Era, hot molten masses, magma, from deep within the earth were squeezed upward into the overlying earlier deposited sea sediments where they slowly cooled underground and solidified into what are today’s widespread granite of New Hampshire.

During the 200 million years which followed the intrusion of the granite, weathering and erosion removed thousands of feet of the overlaying sediments, eventually exposing the large bodies of granite until they became high mountains. The essential features of the Polar Caves were sculptured during that period.

About fifty thousand years ago, a great continental glacier formed in Canada and advanced slowly southward over the mountains of New Hampshire, over the site of today’s Polar Caves. The glacier thickened, reaching a height of well over a mile to cover the highest mountains and fill the deepest valleys.

Such a massive accumulation of ice in motion, though the movement was slow, had a tremendous destructive force. As the ice ground over Mt. Haycock, it plucked and quarried boulders from the lee side of the mountain, forming a cliff on that side. The top of the cliff was badly fractured and cracked by the time the glacier ceased its advance and began to melt. As the ice sheet thawed, frost action was intense. Great blocks of granite cracked and loosened. With the northward recession of the glacier, this loosened material was deposited at the base of the cliff in a jumbled mass of large granite boulders.

These massive granite blocks fell at the base of the cliff forming a series of caves and passages through which people can walk. Thus, fourteen to twenty thousand years ago the Polar Caves were formed.
Nature did not end her work with the formation of the Caves alone; she also exposed a variety of minerals embedded in the granite boulders. The principal rock type is granite and igneous rock, but there are some metamorphic to be seen, notably schist and gneisses.
There are many coarse exposures of quartz, feldspar, mica, garnet and rare deposits of beryl and limestone dissecting many of the huge granite boulders.