Apostle Islands National Lakeshore winter sea caves open for first time in five years

By KBJR News 1

January 18, 2014 Updated Jan 18, 2014 at 10:26 AM CDT

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore (NNCNOW.com)--- It's a place unlike any other in the world and it happens to be right in our own back yard.
Thanks to the extremely cold temperatures this season, you can get a rare up-close look at mother nature's beauty on the South Shore...

The journey to see them is not an easy one, but after hiking the mile long trek over snow and Lake Superior ice, many say it's all worth it.

"It's really pretty. You can crawl through the caves and get a lot of good pictures." Said visitor to the sea caves, Andrew Randall.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore sea caves are a great destination in the summer months for kayakers, but thanks to the extreme cold, people can ditch the boat and make it on foot.

And with ice above and below, it's the first time in five years that people are able to safely walk out to the sea caves.

"I've been living in the area over 30 years and it used to be that almost every winter you could walk out here on the lake and see these spectacular ice formations on the sea caves and now the last five years , we haven't had enough ice. " Said Assistant Chief of Interpretations for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Neil Howk.

This winter in particular has been so cold that some would even say it's early to be out on the ice.

"This is an amazing opportunity to see the sea caves so early in the season." Said Friends of the Apostle Islands member, Rick Charboneau.

Experts say the sandstone rock is very unique to the Apostle Islands area of Lake Superior.
It's very easily eroded and it's that rapid erosion that allows Mother Nature to repaint her sea cliff canvas each year.

"The wind, the waves, the ice, all carve these incredible nooks, crannies, arches, caves. The rocks are changing all the time just like the ice formations." Said Howk.

It's a one of a kind place that shows the amazing beauty of nature and it's all made accessible by an unusually cold winter.

The park service is gearing up for a lot of traffic to the caves.
Federal budget cuts made preparations difficult this year - but at least one town and the friends of Apostle Island stepped into help.

Bryce Henry