Ice Caves open along Lake Superior

WASHBURN, Wis. (WJFW) - Tis the season for winter lovers to trek north to a rare geological feature only available for a few short weeks each year. Thanks to a mixture of erosion and wind, winter runoff creates more than ten ice formations along Lake Superior.

One of the ten-plus ice caves in Chequamegon Bay

For miles and miles and miles, thousands of people from all over visit the Chequamegon ice caves all along the Wisconsin shoreline of Lake Superior.

“You can’t not experience this; it is very unique and it only comes around once a year," said tour guide Michael Defoe who takes people across the snow and ice to see the natural phenomena that just opened for its month-long season. “We need a couple good cold weeks, preferably without much wind to get good ice to develop along the shoreline and then once we feel that there is solid ice, we’ll come out and do ice checks."

Ice can shift, but that doesn’t stop tourists from getting up close to ice formations reaching 30 feet high.

On our 3-mile tour, Defoe took us through a crevice to see one spot inaccessible over the ice.

“You get these ridges and valleys along the pressure cracks, we were able to cross into, the cave and waterfall feature that was there, and I had not seen that before, so that was pretty cool that the people in the group were able to come up with that," said Defoe.

When asked why these caves were here, Defoe says there’s a lot more than just water runoff.

“During glaciation events and scouring of the sandstone, the compaction and erosion and sedimentation has impacted the sandstone in different ways so the Devils layer it erodes quicker and deteriorates faster that the other two layers of sandstone," said Defoe.

While erosion is usually thought to be a bad thing, in this case it reveals rare geological features that bring people back year after year.

“It’s really unique and each cave is different, each formation of ice is different. It’s a lot of the natural beauty of the ice formations, a lot of the different colors that developed over through the creation of the ice itself," said Defoe.

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Matt Weaver started his TV career when joining WJFW in January 2022. He attended St. Norbert College where he covered sports and co-hosted sports talk. When not thinking about sports, he is usually outside staying active

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