It was last minute… or last opportunity rather, to see the ice caves at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in Cornucopia, WI. My cousin put the bug in my ear to make the almost-seven hour drive to the northern tip of Wisconsin for an overnight trip just to see the caves. This was the first time they were accessible since the dawn of social media and even though I lived all but ten months of my life in Wisconsin – it was the first I’d heard about this phenomenon.
My cousin was unable to make the trip, but Mr. Muse and I set to work booking a hotel for a night (closest we could get for a single night was Hayward, WI – an hour and a half from the caves, America’s Best Value Inn) and scheduling our awesome house- and pet-sitter. Bright and early the morning of March 8th, Mr. Muse and I loaded into our car and headed north. We stopped for a late lunch at the Deep Water Grille, part of the South Shore Brewery, in Ashland, WI. Sadly, there was no gluten-free beer or even a hard cider available. After lunch we took the opportunity to stop at a business a few blocks down the way, Gabriele’s German Cookies & Chocolates. We attempted to stop there a couple summers ago but it was closed, this time however, Gabriele was behind the counter and we took home a dozen of her hand-made chocolates as well as two turtles, milk and dark chocolate. They were awesome!
We took to the road and headed out of Ashland. As we were rounding the bay, we noticed that there were a bunch of cars out on the ice, racing. That was our first experience witnessing Ice Racing. We spent a few moments to watch the race, saw snowmobiles heading into the park for their King of the Bay competition, and thoroughly amused we headed back out again and on to Cornucopia.
We read online that we may have to park a half of a mile from the entrance to the park for the caves, but that there were two other locations nearby where we could park and ride a shuttle to the park road entrance. Entering Cornucopia we were met with a long line of cars and a line of people waiting for the shuttle buses that stretched half the length of the line of cars. We opted to press on, passing miles more of cars as we approached the park entrance and once again we pressed onward, opting to try the last parking area. When we arrived, the parking lot (in a farm field) was full, but we could park on the road and then hop on the shuttle (for a fee), which we did. The shuttle dropped us off at the entrance of the park road and thus began our walk in earnest, all seven or so miles of it.
The park site recommended that those visiting the caves wear layers, sturdy boots, ice cleats or tracks and bring walking poles. Mr. Muse and I did all that and more, equipping ourselves with face masks, warm hats and heavy winter gloves in addition to the other recommended items. We saw numerous people who did not heed the advice of the park staff, were slipping and falling on the ice and were vocal about the cold. Despite the cold, and the thousands of people moving en masse throughout the entirety of the lake shore – we’re both glad that we went.
We also stopped at Siskiwit Falls in Cornucopia. Had dinner in Hayward, WI, at the Angry Minnow (no GF menu, no GF beer, no hard cider – but you can get a burger without a bun) and stopped for breakfast at the Norske Nook and discovered – A Gluten Free Menu!!
The slideshow contains images by both Mr. Muse and I. Enjoy!
I don’t like all the queuing and that sort of stuff but lets be honest, these view, and the chance to see them are worth any effort. I told you before of having a slightly similar experience and I’ve never forgotten it. Indeed your pictures helped freshen the memory which is lovely
Thankfully there wasn’t too much in the way of queuing – the crowds moved along pretty well. And yes, they would have been far more enjoyable with a LOT less people, but I’m still glad that I got to see them – it was worth the trip.
Thank you, Ma’am!
Gorgeous! And I’ve never heard of this phenomenon, either — but glad you got to experience it!
Thanks, John! Me too 😀 I do love the fact that Wisconsin has so many awesome places to go and visit and I find new ones all the time.
Visited the Apostle Islands in May of 2000 and even without ice, they are a beautiful place to see. Glad you could make the trip and you didn’t even need to ride the ferry to get there! For anyone who hasn’t seen that part of Wisconsin, do it whenever you can – Amnicon Falls State Park, the Apostle Islands – all great!
Thanks, Mom! We plan to go back and see the islands in the summer too. Get in some kayaking and perhaps take the cruise around the islands from Bayfield. Seems like a good time to me!