The Apostle Island ice caves may be closed, but here are some alternatives to get your ice-formation fix

The ice caves along the Apostle Island National Lakeshore are closed. A ranger was there to turn away visitors on Saturday near the cordoned-off entrance to the trail to frozen Lake Superior at Meyers Beach, west of Bayfield, Wisconsin.

Despite the plunging temps, it just hasn’t been cold enough this season for the ice on the south shore of Lake Superior where the ice caves are to properly thicken. The park says it would take several more weeks below freezing and calm winds to make it happen, if it happens at all this year.

But ice cave seekers willing to make a trip to northern Wisconsin aren’t out of luck this year, with a couple other spots offering views of otherworldly ice formations.

Red Cliff

Just north of Bayfield, Apostle Islands Rustic Makwa Den, on the Red Cliff Band of Lake Superior Chippewa reservation, is offering tours of the ice formations along the shore of the tribe’s land. The southern part of Red Cliff  is located on Buffalo Bay, a more secluded part of Lake Superior between Basswood Island and the mainland, so there’s no open water. Tours opened last week.

Lake Superior appears frozen between the mainland shore and Basswood Island.
MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
Lake Superior appears frozen on Buffalo Bay, between the mainland shore and Basswood Island.
Much of the ice that forms on the red cliffs of this region is streaked with red, the product of grains of sand swept off the sandstone cliffs by water and trapped in the ice.

MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
While some formations are caused by Lake Superior’s waves, others form as water seeps out of cracks in the sandstone cliffs.

MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
It’s not just the ice that’s spectacular. A closer look at the red sandstone shows wood-like grains in some spots, and colorful layers in others.

MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul

Port Wing

Take Highway 13 northwest of Bayfield to Port Wing and find a frozen waterfall a short distance from the Highway at Twin Falls Park.

MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
The lower falls at Twin Falls Park, in Port Wing, Wisconsin, is shown here, frozen.
MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul
Highway 13, which runs along the south shoreline near Port Wing, also offers spots to see crunched ice, piled up as it’s pushed to shore by wind and waves.

MinnPost photo by Greta Kaul

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Rod Loper on 02/05/2019 - 07:16 am.

    Beautiful stuff. Years ago, we ran onto Mini icebergs tossed onto the beaches along the North Shore. Big enough to
    walk into the inner chamber for a surreal ice cave experience.

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