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“Spectacular Scenery in a Once in My Lifetime Opportunity”

Ranked #357 of 1,729 things to do in Wisconsin
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Owner description: A cluster of 21 islands dotting the waters of Lake Superior; great for hiking, boating and camping.
Reviewed March 11, 2014

We heard about the ice caves and thought, how cool. Then, it dawned on me. Go! Don't wait until it's right. The beauty will be gone. So today we drove over 6 hours and trekked over 4 miles to see some awesome beauty. The ice on Lake Superior only freezes hard enough only once in awhile. This year was awhile. So we took the opportunity and came to the National Lakeshore Park. It did not disappoint. The frozen lake and spectacular ice formations were worth every step and achy muscle. But the best part was seeing this beautiful natural treasure up close. It inspires me to return during the non-ice age time and see this same beauty in its spring/summer finery.

The entire visit was completely rustic, except for some welcomed port-a-potties at the Meyers Beach parking lot. For all the rest, you are on your own in nature's amazing beauty.

1  Thank theguysm0m
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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38 - 42 of 69 reviews

Reviewed March 11, 2014

We had heard amazing things about the caves and how they only freeze over once every couple years. Deciding not to miss our chance we loaded up the car and made the 9 hour drive. Online it had said to arrive early to get a decent parking space. When we had arrived close to 11 there were many people leaving, so we were able to snag a decent spot. There is parking in a lot which seems to fill fast and about a mile+ in either direction along side the road. There is a bus that can transport you but there had seem to be quite a wait for it and additional costs. The caves are absolutely breathtaking! The further out you go the more the crowd thins out. Yak traks are a good idea as it does get slick in spots but you will manage fine without them. Snacks and water are a must. GO! You will not regret it!

1  Thank Sass2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed March 10, 2014

Having seen pictures of the national lake shore during the summer it's amazing to see the transformation. This ice covered walk is a hike into another world!

Some tips for taking the hike:

-Get there EARLY or be prepared to walk a very long ways on the road. We got there at 7:15 am on a Friday and we got one of the last spots in the parking lot. It's even worse on the weekend. I'm not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination but it's so nice and quiet in the morning, and the less you have to walk on the road the more energy you have to walk on the ice! During the week you would have to be there by 7:30/8:00 most likely, during the weekend probably by 6:30.

-No matter how cold it is out, keep in mind that any part of your face that is exposed will get sunburned if you are out for a while. Even on a cloudy day! So either cover your face with a face mask or dab on some sun screen to exposed areas like the cheeks, nose, and forehead. I didn't think of this (we were out there for four hours on a cloudy day) and my Irish ancestry really made me pay later!

-Make sure to pack easy to eat snacks like granola bars and beef sticks. Hiking on the ice is a lot more difficult than you think and you do burn a ton of calories doing it. You burn even more if you're carrying a pack. The best way to not wipe out by the end is to eat a good meal the day before and snack during the entire hike.

-The hike feels a lot easier on the way out because you're excited, but the way back can be torture if you don't know your own limits! Make sure to turn around not when you are starting to get tired but BEFORE you get tired. By the time we were done we were really dragging our feet - and we're pretty healthy individuals in general.

-Bringing a GPS unit is very helpful to keep track of exactly where you are on the hike. If you have a cell phone that has GPS just make sure to fully load the map first because there won't be a data signal later. Have a printed copy of the cave maps or a downloaded copy on your phone and you can compare the two to keep track of your progress. This was very helpful for us because it was a lot easier to really see how far we had gone and which points of interest were still up ahead.

-Wear layers! The temperature and wind speed can change while you are on the hike so I was often removing and replacing layers because I was either too sweaty or too cold again.

-Set aside at least three hours for the hike. We hiked four hours and would have been out there longer if we had the energy because there was more to see. Some people spend more than 8 hours out there. It depends on how much you want to see and what you want to get out of the hike

-Yak Tracks or other traction products for shoes are a must. Even with packed snow over the ice it is still quite slippery and we witnessed quite a few wipe outs on our walk. We had Yak Tracks and ski poles and had no problems. This is especially important if you are clumsy like me and my husband!

-Just in case you fall anyway bringing a basic first aid kit is always a good idea.

Over all this

2  Thank Stephanie T
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 28, 2014

Get there early so you can park close to the trail! We went last Monday and it was pretty busy at 11 am when we arrived, but much busier when we left a couple of hours later. You need to be a fairly fit hiker-it's only about a mile there, but remember you're hiking over snow and ice-more difficult than trails. (And this is not for small children-we were shocked to see several pre-school age kids and their parents). I can't wait to go back and kayak this summer!

1  Thank Gracie99
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed February 25, 2014

First hint: get there early so you can park on Meyers Road ($3 fee but worth not having to walk further). It was cold (about 7 degrees) with the wind blowing. Just bundle up like you are going skiing in a blizzard and you'll be fine. We found having those heating packets you stick in your gloves and boots to be really helpful. Be sure to have a good set (my cheap ones didn't even make it out of the parking lot) of strap-on crampons/cleats for your boots. They really help when walking on the ice or on the packed down snow. They are more a safety factor ( I can attest to this) than you might think. Also, ski or trekking poles are also helpful. We also had ski goggles that were really helpful when we had to walk back with the wind in our face. Full face masks helped as well.

The hike is about a mile to the first ice caves but if you are up for it keep going for about another half mile at least to see the full range of ice formations. We didn't make it to the furthest ones (which would have been more than a mile further). Bring a camera but keep it on an inside pocket to keep it from getting to cold (batteries seem to not like the cold). If you are lucky, the sun will be out (not for us) and you'll probably see even more spectacular colors. Don't worry if the sun isn't out, we got more color in our photos than we expected. We saw people pulling their children in everything from sleds and toboggans to wheeling them in a runner's stroller (hint: wheels don't work as well as skis or sled bottoms for pulling kids). It took us about one hour to hike back from as far as we had gone.

3  Thank Mike W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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