Spook Cave and Campground – An Interview with Paul Rasmussen – Owner
Natural beauty surrounds you when camping at our campground. Choose a spacious full hook-up site near the trout stream and waterfall. Or perhaps a log cabin overlooking our fishing and swimming lake would be perfect for making family memories. Families with kids enjoy camping near the playground and volleyball court; across the stream are the shower facilities and all the action of the gift shop and Spook Cave. Other highlights include towering limestone bluffs, stunning fall foliage, hiking trails, an occasional train passing through, golf cart rentals, and propane fill station. Each site and cabin has its own picnic table and fire ring for evening relaxation. Throughout the park you can upload and share all those pictures with our fast fiber optic wireless internet.
The Spook Cave
The slow processes of nature have been developing the cave near McGregor for centuries and centuries, but it was opened suddenly by man.
Early settlers of Clayton County often referred to the strange noises coming from a hole at the base of the hill along Bloody Run Creek, but it took Gerald Mielke to make the discovery of nature’s handiwork. These beauties are now available to the public. Guided boat tours tell about the discovery and development of the cave. Formations are also pointed out and described. No walking involved; underground, out of the weather – always 47°F.
What’s your story? How long have you been here in the Driftless, Were you born in the Driftless, What keeps you here in the Driftless?
I moved to this area when purchasing Spook Cave and Campground summer of 2002. The natural beauty of the area is really inspiring, as are the people. We travel quite a bit in the off season, visiting some great places, but I plan to always make this great area home.
Tell us a little bit about what you do for work or your business.
I like to say that our business has three main parts, the 3 C’s. Cave tours, camping, and cabin rentals. The cave tour is what started it all, opening in 1955; it’s a guided boat tour that lasts 35 minutes. Being in a boat there is no walking, so it’s great for people of all ages. The tour guide shows all the formations, and explains about the cave, its history, and our area. We also have a full service campground and 8 cabin rentals. We are open May 1 st through the last Sunday of
So as the owners, my wife Paula and I are responsible for the overall direction and culture of the business. We are the captains of the ship, steering it in the right direction and navigating calm and turbulent waters. We work extremely hard at putting together a great staff each season to
work here, the Spook Cave team. We also go above and beyond with the way we treat staff and by building relationships with them. After that we focus on delivering a top notch experience to our customers. We do this by under promising and over delivering with expectations and service, and treating others as we would like to be treated, plus attention to detail.
Tell us about a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career
with your business.
Installing and growing our cabin business. When I first started we had one basic cabin that sleeps 3-5 people. It seemed like there was a lot of demand for that cabin, so early on we added 2 more cabins. They are real log cabins assembled log by log, as that seemed like it would be a
cool experience for people, and they are over looking our lake. They are also full service with a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and porch. They were popular, so we added two more, then two more, and they are even nicer and bigger. We now have 8 cabins that can sleep total 53 people, and they are full a lot of the time, people really enjoy them.
We’re constantly making things better, faster, smarter or less expensive. We leverage technology or improve processes. In other words, we strive to do more—with less. Tell me about a recent project or problem that you made better, faster, smarter, more efficient, or less expensive.
As far as technology I’m really proud of the wifi system that I’ve built through the years, almost totally in house. The challenge with our terrain is all the trees, limestone bluffs, and hills that make it difficult for wireless connections. So I decided that the whole system had to be built with cable in the ground, connected by wires, which is the best. We now have 27 access points where campers and cave goers can connect with super fast fiber optic internet.
Tell us about some of the people you’ve met, that stand apart from the rest, while here at your business or workplace.
Being in the campground and tourism industry, almost all of our customers are great to work with, as they are here for vacation and to have fun. My biggest relationships and memories are with our staff as we go through the daily grind of running the business, solving problems, getting
the work done while still trying to have some fun. Especially working with young people its fun to see them grow and develop and move on from here to be successful. Being in charge of the maintenance department I also work with a lot of local contractors on improvement projects. Most of them work extremely hard at their trade and we’ve accomplished a lot working together.
Tell us about someone who has influenced your decisions for yourself or your business.
My neighbor Todd Klingeman owns an excavating company and does a lot of dirt work here. While hanging out in his shop a former coworker of his stopped by who is also in the dirt business and works for a large excavating company. After hearing the complaints, Todd gave this guy a top of the line, brand new expensive grease gun for servicing equipment and making his job easier. Todd later told me that this guy would tell the story about Todd giving him a grease gun at least 50 times to various people. Todd told me that any time you can do something for someone that they will talk about and remember for the rest of their life, that you should do it. I remember that and apply it whenever I can.
What do you wish other people knew about you or your business?
Unless you work and live here people really don’t understand how many customers we serve day to day, how many people we bring to the area, how large of an operation it really is. Then along with that how much fun so many people are having and great family memories they are making.
If you were to tell a friend to come and visit the Driftless Area, and they ask “Why” … what would you tell them?
God has blessed this area with great natural beauty that is so amazing to see and experience. The people that live here do so because they love the area and are great people who work hard and have fun. For me and many that live here it’s a lot better than being in the city.
How do you develop yourself outside of your work environment? Personal development can take all shapes and sizes. It can be found in a hobby, a purposeful pursuit, or in an appetite to explore.
My cousin owns a cabin in the remote woods of Canada where we go several times a year to relax and hang out. Besides Canada Paula and I enjoy camping, traveling, and spending time with our girls and other family. On vacation it seems I’m always trying to find some live music. I enjoy church activities that fulfill my spiritual needs. Otherwise I drive the UTV around our neighborhood and talk with the neighbors, as we live in a great neighborhood.
What are some of your favorite places to go and have fun here in the Driftless?
I usually travel outside the Driftless to have fun, while here I’m mostly working or hanging at Spook Cave and Campground.
What might our readers be surprised to know about you?
I used to juggle flaming clubs and also used to fly my airplane, just not at the same time. I keep my juggling clubs on the shelf next to my cannon.
What are you most curious about in life?
Because I’m in the tourism industry and enjoy travelling, I’m most curious about the future of transportation. Things like electric and self driving cars, and personal transport through the air should be fun to see and experience.
What is the most courageous thing you have done in your life?
Buying Spook Cave and Campground at age 28 and then moving to an area that I knew nothing about and virtually no one. I had a large bank loan so it was time to start figuring things out, running the business, and solving problems.
13299 Spook Cave Road
McGregor, IA 52157