Our cave adventure began after a half day at work on Friday. First order of business once on the road-caffeine! Caribou Coffee is one of my favorite’s after Starbucks.
After checking into our hotel, it was time for dinner at the Pier Plaza Restaurant, which was recommended to us from some locals.
The apple vinaigrette was amazing, and keeping in faith with my list of 30 things to do leading up to and during my 30th year, I had to sample some local beer. The South Shore Nut Brown Ale hit the spot with the fresh Lake Superior Trout and Whitefish fish fry. Yum!
The next morning we were up by 6:00 a.m. as friends of ours had told us to get to Meyer’s Beach early (where the hike to the cave begins.) With the ice caves being completely frozen for only the second time in over a decade and the polar vortex weather adding to the awe-inspiring frozen beauty, the ice caves are attracting people by the thousands. I hate crowds when enjoying nature, so it was time to haul butt to the lake.
Three dollars pays for your parking at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The rest of nature’s display is free! The distance to the first cave is just over a mile. From there you can trek across frozen Lake Superior another .6 miles and see cave after cave. The total out distance you can travel is three miles, which is what we did. We of course stopped along the way to take photos, play in the caves, and enjoy the best beauty you can find-nature’s!
If you live in the area and are thinking about visiting the Apostle Island Ice Caves, then be sure to call their ice line found on the link for current conditions. The ice was between 16-18 inches thick when we visited making it likely they will remain open through March 17 (according to their website as of today). This is obviously highly dependent on Mother Nature herself, so check in advance.
Apostle Island Ice Cave Tips:
1) Arrive early in the morning; no later than 7:00 a.m. to beat the crowds.
2) Where Yak Traks or something of the like. Boots are not enough if you really want to get out on the ice and climb, crawl, and explore.
3) Pack a snack and some water if you plan to spend hours enjoying the sights like we did. Bring your own breakfast, too.
4) Bring something to put your wrappers in. I saw people leaving their dog’s business behind and tossing their cigarette butts on the “ground”, which means this will all be in Lake Superior when it melts. Stupid people!
5) Dress warm! Nothing ruins winter fun like not dressing for the weather.
6) Bring ski poles if you want extra support or might have difficulties walking in snow and ice.
7) Bring a camera! I keep looking at my photos over and over reliving the morning.
After enjoying the ice caves we were starving so we headed to The Pickled Herring for some lunch, also inside the Pier Plaza Restaurant. After lunch we enjoyed a bit of sunshine in Bayfield before heading home on the 4.5 hour drive. The drive was so worth the beauty, and I am so glad we made these last-minute late winter plans. To not see the ice caves as they are this winter would be a shameful thing to pass up.
Nature always leaves me feeling rejuvenated, humbled, and grateful for the things I have.
Thank you nature!