I Want To Go To There: Lake Superior’s Otherworldy Ice Caves

Over the weekend, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ice caves in northern Wisconsin opened to guests for the first time this year – an increasingly rare treat as climate change alters temperature patterns. Before last year, the ice caves hadn’t been open since the winter of 2009! The 12-mile stretch of caves, made of sandstone molded by glaciers over millions of years, feature stunning icicle displays. The caves are near the Apostle Islands off Lake Superior and can only be reached by trekking 2 miles roundtrip across the frozen lake. To ensure a safe passage, the experience is only available to visitors when park officials can ensure the ice is nearly a foot thick, which has become significantly less common over the past twenty years.

Over the past few days, people taking advantage of the rare opportunity showed up in droves, with the National Park Service seeing nearly 12,000 visitors and a 2.5-mile line of guests’ parked cars near the departure point. With an admission fee of $5, it’s practically free – if you’re willing to work your ass off for a few hours! Hiking across the lake is risky and physically demanding, and this year it’s said to be particularly difficult. By the time visitors finally reach the caves, they’ve earned it. If you’re looking to see a winter wonderland unlike anything you’ve experienced before, though, it sure sounds worth it! The accessibility of the journey changes from day to day based on weather patterns. Last year the caves were open for ten weeks, but there’s no telling for sure how long they’ll stay open this season or if they’ll be available next year. If you’re able to pay a visit, do it while you still can!

Ice Caves

Caves

caves030215

[USA Today, National Park Service]

[Images via Shutterstock/Facebook/Apostle Islands National Lakeshore]