It turns out that I finally had an opportunity to visit the ice caves near the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. A week before a planned trip up to the northern reaches of Wisconsin the winter park was opened to the public for the first time this year. I was really excited because I had been hoping to get to these caves last year, but was unable to make it work with my schedule.

As my friend Rick and I made our way down highway 13 on our way to Meyer Beach ( the point of entrance to the caves) we were starting to get concerned it was going to be rather busy. Our concern was well justified because as we got within a few miles of the beach, cars were parked along the highway and people were already out walking. I thought to myself, “we are possibly faced with not only making a large trek to the caves, but a long walk to the entrance as well”. As we drove closer to the entrance of the beach we were lucky to notice a vehicle leaving and snagged the spot. Luck had been on our side that day and we didn’t have to walk all that far of a distance after all!

We made our way to the entrance of the beach, payed, and began walking. It would be another mile or so of walking on a frozen beach and the thick ice of Lake Superior before we made it to the caves. Having to walk carefully on the snowy ice made the journey seem to take that much longer. I think I nearly fell five times before we finally made it to the first portion of the caves.

Once we got to the caves I was in awe. Brilliant shades of orange sandstone outlined the coast of the great lake with dramatic ice formations everywhere. Hidden coves were being explored by kids that could fit in them and larger caves were occupied with people eager to venture in. There were some smaller “igloo” style coves that were actually warm enough inside to have a bit of slush on the ice. Rick was unfortunate while exploring one of these igloo style coves when his foot slipped down a crack into the frigid water of the lake. As he quickly made his way out of the cove he said, “leave it to me to find water on a completely frozen lake”.

At this point my creative eye was going wild looking for interesting angles of ice and rock formations. Managing my balance while walking on ice with my camera proved challenging as I wanted to keep my gear safe as well as myself. One thing I hadn’t thought about prior to the visit was the amount of people there. At first I was worried people would be getting in the way of my photographs but I discovered in most cases they actually made more of my photos a bit more interesting by adding perspective to the environment. After a while Rick wanted to start heading back to the car a little early since his leg was soaked in freezing water. I followed him not too long after once I was satisfied with the photos I had taken.

A week or two after the trip (and once the caves had been closed for the year) I emailed the National Parks Service because I was curious how long the caves had been open in total for 2015. I received a response quickly and I was told the caves had only been open nine days this year compared to the two months that they were open last year (2014). I will say I was very lucky to have the experience of visiting the caves in the small time frame they were open to the public. I hope I can visit again in the future!