Opening and Closing. After opening Feb 21st for safe travel to see the Ice Caves, warm weather and other conditions forced the US Park Service to close access to the Caves on March 9th. Similarly conditions forced the Madeline Island Ice Road to close.
Contact Phone #s, Directions and Advice on touring the ice formations are at the bottom of this page.
A popular Bayfield, Wisconsin winter attraction is touring the Lake Superior Bayfield Ice Caves of the Bayfield Peninsula. In the spring, summer and fall we've taken the hiking trail from the Apostle Islands Meyers Beach parking lot to the top of the caves and have caught some impressive views of the caves.
During these three seasons, however, the best view of the caves is from the water . . . which is one of the prime reasons Bayfield is a popular kayaking center.
But winter makes the sea caves accessible to anyone willing to walk a little over a mile on the frozen beach and lake ice. It is fantastic, a really neat experience.
Every year Mother Nature sculpts unique formations in ice and snow which is why many people make an annual visit to the Bayfield-Apostle Island Park Ice Caves to see the latest exhibits on display.
If the Park Service doesn't certify the ice safe enough to walk on in 2015, the photos here will have to suffice. Unless you want to hike the LakeShore Hiking Trail and see them from above - which is what a number of people have done this winter.
The Bayfield Sea Caves become the Lake Superior Ice Caves
(Click on little pictures for a larger view)
In winter, the Bayfield Peninsula Sea Caves are transformed into
Ice Caves. It took several shots to get the right view through
this archway. The tiny figure in the background gives you an idea of the size of this cave. > > >
< < < A beautiful day out on the lake. If it were summer, a lawn chair, umbrella, and a nearby beer and brat stand would nicely complement the ambience!
< < Kids have fun exploring the ice caves, These two crawled into every one they could fit in.
Looking up at some ice stalactites hanging from the ceiling in another cave.
< < < In places the ice was crystal clear. Jo was afraid to walk on it even though it was quite thick.
Another view of the same cave in a more recent year.
< < < Jo inspects the south end of a deep crevace we have previously viewed from up above via the Sea Cave hiking trail.
Being able to get up close to the ice caves, you can see many interesting formations. > > >
< < < Another picturesque view of the bluffs that contain the caves.
Access Conditions to the Lake Superior Ice Caves
Lake Superior Ice thickness varies from year to year. In 2009 as of Feb 1, the over-the-water ice cave trail was open and the ice safe enough to walk on and trail was well trodden by that time. But when I checked on conditions in 2011, by mid-February the lake ice trail had yet to be declared safe and for the rest of the season. In 2014 ice formed early and was safe by mid-January.
As of Feb 18th, 2015 the ice trail to the caves was freezing over raising the possibility they could open soon - but still not quite there yet.
An Alternate Route. However you can still see some of the Ice Caves and Ice formations by taking the overland route along the LakeShore Hiking Trail (See pictures and more information here)
So if you want to check on up-to-the-minute conditions, the Park Service phone # is (715) 779-3398 x3. The Bayfield Chamber of Commerce also posts information on their Winter Recreation Report page. Another source of information would be the folks at Ehlers General Store in Cornucopia. Try this e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
When you go, bring some beverages and bars with you because the hike to the caves, then touring the caves themselves, and hiking back can easily take a couple of hours. (You'll walk from 3 to 6 miles depending on how extensively you explored the ice caves) I've been told porta-potties are on site but it would be a good idea to take care of those "chores" before you get to Meyers Beach (especially on a weeekend). Also on a weekend because of parking out on the highway you may have to walk a distance before getting to the lakeshore. I've heard there are shuttle buses between Meyers Beach and Cornie but a good idea to check that out ahead of time either in Bayfield or Cornie depending on which direction you are coming from.
Directions to the Ice Caves. The turn-off to Meyers Beach (parking for the Ice Caves) is 4 miles east of Cornucopia on Highway 13. (click on map for Ice Caves parking lot location)
Ice Caves Volunteers - Thanks to the Bayfield Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau and the Friends of the Apostle Islands for providing funds to maintain seasonal park service staffing for the Ice Caves. And the Town of Bell has volunteered to assist in keeping the Meyers Beach road & parking areas plowed and clear of snow.
Pictures of Current Ice Conditions - The Sea Caves Watch website, designed for kayakers and boaters wanting wave conditions near the caves, also has value in the wintertime to see evolving ice conditions. Go here for Sea Cave snapshots at various times during the day.
SuperiorTrails.com - Reinhold Development - 2015
Lake Superior Camping
& Campground Directory
Lake Superior Circle Tour Route
Marquette UP 200
Sled Dog Race
Feb 13 - 17, 2014