Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands Ice Caves Set To Open

February 26, 2015 / Wisconsin, United States, North America
Rangers checking the ice along Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Rangers checking the ice along Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Photo via NPS

After a number of delays, the Ice Caves along Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore are slated to open to the public this Saturday, February 28th.

The ice began forming two weeks ago following strong winds in late January that left open water in their wake and the accessibility of the ice caves this winter uncertain.

Rangers checking the condition of ice on Wednesday found the ice to be 12 inches (30 cm) thick, enough to support a car, but found the walk to the ice caves very treacherous.

In a Facebook post, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore cautioned would-be visitors that “Large areas of bare ice create extremely slippery conditions. Near the caves, piles of fractured ice sheets make footing rough and unsteady. Wear sturdy boots with ice cleats on the soles and carry ski poles to prevent slipping. Avoid recently formed cracks in the ice near the base of the cliffs. Do not stand under large icicles.”

This year's slippery base ice along Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

This year’s slippery base ice along Wisconsin’s Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Photo via NPS

Access to the ice caves depends on ice that meets a rigid list of conditions set out by the National Park Service to ensure the safety of visitors. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore staff monitor and check the ice and open the caves only when they deem the risk low. However, due to the unpredictability of lake ice, visiting the caves is never completely safe as conditions can rapidly change.

Once the caves open this Saturday, they will stay open every day until ice conditions deteriorate enough to necessitate a closure or weather conditions threaten the stability of the ice shelf near the caves.

For up to date status of the ice, the National Park Service has set up and automated ice line (715-779-3398 x3) which will have the most current conditions.

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