The Bayfield Ice Caves
Editors Note Jan 6, 2015: Touring the ice sculptures of the Bayfield Lake Superior Ice Caves was easily the most popular 2014 winter event around Lake Superior. We hope they will be again open in 2015 and we’ll post a notice here when that happens.
For the first time in 5 years the ice on Lake Superior around the Bayfield Peninsula and the Apostle Islands is thick enough for people to safely hike out to the unique ice sculptures that form in the caves formed in lake shore bluffs the Apostle Islands National Park mainland. See some photos and directions to the Ice Caves from our last visit six years ago – Wisconsin Lake Superior Ice Caves.
If you go up to Bayfield to see some of this year’s Mother Nature sculptures, here’s a few tips for you. While at times snowshoes would be helpful to travel to the caves, at this point in time thousands of people have already trekked out across the ice and snow to the see the caves. So I expect the trail to be quite tamped down. (However if it snows heavily just before you go, this may change.) So if you have ice cleats that clamp on your boots, bring them along. Or wear whatever boots you have that will give you decent traction on ice or snow. If you’ve got some ski poles or hiking sticks, bring them. Also pack a beverage and some energy or granola bars. I figure the hike across the ice to the caves is about a mile and the hike along the caves could be almost a mile. So figure at least four miles round trip and extra time to explore the caves means you’ ll be out there a few hours. And this amount of time also means a bathroom break prior to your trek wouldn’t hurt either (Because of the high bluffs the caves are formed in, you can’t sneak off into the woods for a potty stop!).
Directions. The Ice Caves are accessed from the Meyers Beach unit of the Apostle Islands National Park. The road to the beach is off Highway 13 four miles east of Cornucopia, Wisconsin or 17 miles Northwest of Bayfield, Wisconsin. There are places to eat and get grocery items at both locations. Here is a link to our Lake Superior Region Snow & Weather Reports page for information on traveling.
Lodging. You’ll want to Google for motel accommodations in Bayfield, Washburn, and Ashland as your best bets for finding a place to stay. If all what is available is booked, it is feasible to get lodging in Superior, Wisconsin as via Hwy 13 it is about 60 miles to the Ice Caves from Superior. There are spots between Ashland and Superior that are closer – like Iron River and Brule – but my guess is if Ashland – Bayfield motels are filled for your desired dates, these would be filled as well. Make your reservations as early as you can.
We hope to see the caves again this year. Maybe we’ll see you there.