Access to the ice caves at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore closed at 12:01 a.m. on Monday due to changing ice conditions.
About 4,000 people visited the ice caves Sunday and I was lucky enough to be one of them. I took a road trip from La Crosse with a friend and was able to capture some amazing ice formations on camera.
From Meyers Beach, we walked about 1.1 miles to the first cave. The caves spanned about 2 miles. It was about -6 degrees when we arrived in the morning, so it was a cold hike, but totally worth it.
About 138,000 visited the ice caves this season, Apostle Island National Lakeshore Superintendent Bob Krumenaker posted on the official Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Facebook page. The last time the caves were accesible by foot was in 2009. About 12,700 people visited that year.
“This has been a remarkable ice cave season,” Krumenaker stated in a news release. “The longest and best one anyone can remember, and certainly the most popular. But spring is coming, the ice is weakening, and we can see the edge of the ice pack coming closer to the mainland ice caves every day. The beautiful formations are melting, and some have already fallen, raising concerns. Safety is our top priority, and by planning for a closure, rather than reacting quickly to a change in conditions, we can assure that the season ends on a high note.”