Posted at: 01/24/2014 5:39 PM
Updated at: 01/24/2014 6:13 PM
By: Maarja Anderson
For the first time in five years, you can visit the Apostle Islands sea caves by walking across frozen Lake Superior.
Last weekend, officials with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore said they had more visitors than ever coming out to see the ice caves.
It's a mile-long hike to the caves, and not exactly the easiest if you're hauling gear, but visitors make do. Many wear snow shoes, skis, and use ski poles.
"We are prepared today with sticks and she has cleats on her boots!" said Marge Stanley-Meyer of Duluth.
The snowy hike seems to be forgotten once that first frozen waterfall or frozen wave comes into view.
"Oh, it's worth it! I'd advise anybody to make the trip," said Dianne Nussbaum of Bayfield.
For five years we've waited to get back on the ice and this winter, Mother Nature has produced.
"The formations we are seeing this year are some of the best I've ever seen," said Neil Howk, the assistant chief of interpretation with the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Howk said the red sandstone found in the Apostle Islands is some of the oldest rock in the region. It is one billion years old.
"People love coming out here in the summer because the cliffs and the caves are just beautiful, but this time of year...it's incredible," said Howk.
With lots of wind, snow, and cold, this winter has created conditions in the caves we rarely see.
Howk describes it as a natural playground.
"I think everybody that comes out here has a little bit of kid in them," he said.
But Howk said their number one priority is safety. He recommends visitors to dress warm, check the weather report before coming, and use caution while walking the trails.
The ice caves can be accessed by Meyers Beach, about 15 minutes west of Bayfield on Highway 13.