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Ice Caves

LAKE SUPERIOR’S FINEST WORK

Known as the Apostle Island Ice Caves, these incredible natural features formed slowly over time.  Produced by wave action, Lake Superior crashed against sandstone cliffs until they eroded, leaving small caverns and sea caves carved into the sides.  They are as unique in the summer as they are in the winter: most cave systems in the world are made of limestone or dolomite, but the sea caves along the South Shore are made of sandstone.

For only a few short weeks in the winter, the Washburn sea caves transform as waves pound against the cliffs and super-cold weather forms icicles along the rocky surfaces.  Building over time, these icicles turn into multicolored ice towers, catching the pale winter sun like crystals.

Because of the nature of the sea caves and Northern Wisconsin winters, the Ice Caves are not always available for visitors.  They can be seen from Houghton Falls where hikers can trek down to the cliffs and enjoy the magic of winter.

For more information on the ice caves or to pick up a map, visit the Washburn Area Chamber or read through the FAQ.  Physical maps can also be picked up at the Chamber for free:

  • Washburn Area Chamber
    100 W Bayfield Street
    Washburn, WI
Ice Caves in Washburn