Ice not (yet) safe to view Lake Superior Sea Caves this year

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On Jan. 15, 2014 it was determined there was enough ice to allow people to visit the ice caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

But this year, the Northland's News Center in Duluth reports that the area along Lake Superior's South Shore in northeastern Wisconsin isn't getting the ideal temperatures that it had for its success last year, and, as of now, there is no access to the ice caves.

"Current lake ice conditions do not allow access to the ice caves near Myers beach," said the Apostle Islands National Park Serivce's ice hotline. The Park Service notes that rangers regularly check lake ice conditions at the ice caves. Currently, there are holes and openings reported in the ice around the caves.

Each year, the strength and the depth of the ice varies with the temperatures. Last year was the first year since 2009 that the ice caves were accessible to visitors.

Last year, the ice caves became an international sensation. The Ashland, Wisconsin Daily Press listed the excitement about the caves as one of the top stories for the area for the year. Over a 10-week span, the ice caves attracted an estimated 138,000 people, who trekked out to see the ice caves and created a boom for the area's hospitality industry.

Stay tuned. It's possible the caves will still be accessible to tourists as winter progresses. The Park Service notes that the lake near the caves does not normally freeze until late January, or February.

Before you gas up the car and head north to check it out, check conditions by calling the National Park Service's Ice Line at (715) 779-3397 - extension 3. The Park Service recommends that visitors check in to determine whether the caves are accessible.

The SeaCavesWatch website provides real time information.

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