A backpacker stands at the mouth of an ice cave
(Photo: Stas Tolstnev/Shutterstock)

Whether they're hiding beneath massive glaciers or tucked away inside a mountain, ice caves are without a doubt some of the strangest and most surreal landscapes found on our amazing planet.

Wannian Cave in Ningwu County, ChinaWhat's really interesting about ice caves is that while a lot of them are seasonal, there are many others that are capable of surviving warm summers. Take, for example, the Wannian Ice Cave (pictured at right) in Ningwu County, China, which is equipped with a natural air conditioning system that keeps it frozen all year around.

According to sciencenews.org, geologists studying the 3-million-year-old cave discovered that during the summer, the "buoyant, warm outside air doesn’t flow very deep into the cave. Winter’s cold air, [meanwhile], flushes heat out of the cave system. This convection process maintains freezing temperatures year-round even as a thousand visitors explore the cave each day."

Of course, not all ice caves are this lucky. Thanks to the increasing threat of climate change, more and more ice caves are in danger of melting away permanently.

We still have time before that happens, but you better start planning if you'd like to see some of these icy wonders in person. Not sure where to start? Continue below to see just a small selection of the world's most spectacular ice caves.

Mossy Cave — Bryce Canyon National Park. Utah

Mossy Cave, Utah
Mossy Cave, Utah (Photo: Doug Meek/Shutterstock)

Mossy Cave is a grotto created by an underground spring. In certain months, the large overhang is filled with moss and giant icicles.

Kungur Ice Cave — Perm Krai, Russia

Kungur Ice Cave in Perm Krai, Russia
(Photo: Chu-x/Shutterstock)

Kungur Ice Cave is a karst cave near the town Kungur, Russia, on the banks of the Sylva River. It is one of the biggest cave of this type of cave in Russia. The term karst describes a specific topography in which groundwater or surface water slowly dissolves underlying rocks, which are typically made of limestone, gypsum or dolomite.

Apostle Island Ice Caves — Wisconsin

Apostle Island ice caves
Apostle Island ice caves (Photo: critterbiz/Shutterstock)

The 21-island park located off the coast of the northern tip of Wisconsin is best known as a summer kayaking destination, but when the area freezes, you can see an entirely different personality of the caves: smooth floors where there was water and massive stalagmites and stalactites.

Minnehaha Falls — Minneapolis, Minnesota

Minnehaha Falls, Minnesota
Minnehaha Falls, Minnesota (Photo: Douglas R. Feltman/Shutterstock)

In the winter, extremely cold temperatures freeze the fall’s cascade in place in this famous Minneapolis location, which is often closed off if the conditions are too treacherous.

Lake Baikal ice caves — Siberia, Russia

Ice caves along the shores of Lake Baikal, Russia
(Photo: Serg Zastavkin/Shutterstock)

Siberia is cold enough that even the world’s oldest and deepest freshwater lake is no match. When Lake Baikal freezes over, the caves become accessible.

Ice lingam at Amarnath Cave — Kashmir, India

Amarnath Cave ice lingam
(Photo: Furfur/Wikimedia)

This naturally formed lingam is a famous Hindu pilgrimage stop in India.

Eben Ice Caves — Michigan

Eben Ice Caves, Michigan
(Photo: John McCormick/Shutterstock)

These famous caves aren’t really caves at all — the rooms form when melting snow runs over the edge of a small cliff and freezes.

Dachstein Ice Caves — Austria

Dachstein ice cave, Austria
(Photo: Sergio Ponomarev/Shutterstock)

When outside temperatures are above freezing but the caves contain very cold air, the penetrating water freezes and forms amazing ice shapes in the underground world of Dachstein.

Furka Pass Ice Grotto - Swiss Alps

Furka Glacier Ice Cave
(Photo: Elisa Locci/Shutterstock)

This tunnel and ice chamber have been cut into the Rhone glacier every year since around 1870.

Scărișoara Cave — Apuseni Mountains, Romania

Scarisoara Cave, Apuseni Mountains, Romania
(Photo: Catalin Petolea/Shutterstock)

Scarisoara Cave houses the second largest underground glacier in south-eastern Europe and it’s one of Romania’s natural wonders.

Marble Cave — Crimea

Marble cave, Russia
(Photo: Tutti Frutti/Shutterstock)

This world-famous cave formed by marble limestone — thus the name — wasn’t discovered until 1987.

Porter's Cave — Owen County, Indiana

Porter Cave, Indiana
(Photo: Kenneth Keifer/Shutterstock)

Catie Leary ( @catieleary ) writes about science, travel, animals and the arts.