What are the Ice Caves? According to the National Park Service:
Centuries of wave action, freezing, and thawing have sculpted shorelines throughout Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Some of the Great Lakes’ most spectacular scenery occurs where these forces interact with sandstone of the Devils Island Formation to create extensive sea caves. Nature has carved delicate arches, vaulted chambers, and honeycombed passageways into cliffs on the north shore of Devils Island, Swallow Point on Sand Island, and along the mainland near the Lakeshore’s western boundary. People come to Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in summer and winter to visit the sea caves and witness Lake Superior’s ever-changing handiwork.
The caves’ beauty varies dramatically with the season. In summer the red sandstone is sandwiched between sapphire blue lake and emerald green forests that grow right up to the brink of the cliffs. Large waves generate plumes of spray and thunderous explosions as they surge into the sea caves. While visitors must enjoy these scenes from a distance, such is not the case when the lake is tranquil. Under calm conditions, kayakers can explore the caves’ deepest recesses while listening to the murmer of water against rock.
By February, an ice bridge might connect Sand Island to the mainland. The lake surface is usually a frozen white expanse. Lakeshore cliffs form a crimson red border to this arctic landscape. Pillars of ice extend to the cliff tops where waterfalls have hardened in place. Frozen lakewater encrusts the base of the cliffs. Inside the caves awaits a fairyland of needlelike icicles. The formations change from chamber to chamber and from day to day.
The Duluth Tribune is reporting:
“We’ve had coverage from all over the world between websites and Facebook. It really has gone viral.”
An estimated 11,000 people visited the park’s ice-festooned sea caves on Lake Superior last weekend, said Howk, assistant chief of interpretation for the park.
On Saturday, cars were parked for seven miles along Wisconsin Highway 13…
“This is bigger than Apple Fest (the Bayfield Apple Festival),” Motiff said.
That three-day event each fall draws about 40,000 visitors, she said. The sea caves are drawing more than 10,000 people a weekend, and the season could last six to eight weeks. Park Service officials announced Jan. 15 that ice was reliable enough to open the sea caves to foot travel, and the season could possibly extend well into March.
Saturday was the biggest day for visitors so far, Howk said, with an estimated 8,500 people making the 1.1-mile trek to where the sea caves begin. They extend for another two miles along the shore. Water seeping out of the sedimentary rock in wave-carved caves along the shore forms dramatic icicles, ice pillars, ice tunnels and arches.
With Valentine’s Day landing on a Friday, followed by a three day weekend for many, I suspect this weekend is going to be even busier.
Take a look, is something you’d want to go see?