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It'll cost $5 to visit the Apostle Island ice caves this winter – if they return

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It will cost a bit more to visit the Apostle Island ice caves – if they return, of course.

The National Park Service will charge $5 per person for those 16 and older to help pay for increased staffing, infrastructure and medical needs, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

There's also the option to purchase a seasonal pass to the ice caves, which is available for $10 at park headquarters, the station notes.

Last winter, roughly 138,000 people visited the ice caves on Lake Superior near the Apostle Islands. This unprecedented popularity stretched the Apostle Island National Lakeshore’s budget.

Officials said because the ice caves received national and international attention, they believe attendance numbers like last year will be the norm in the future, not the exception.

There was a $3 fee to park at Meyers Beach last year, but during the 10-week Ice Caves Special Event of 2014, most people parked in temporary lots, so the park only collected about $47,000 – a fraction of what it cost to manage the event, park officials said.

It's not known if the ice caves will open this winter, however park officials have said it looks promising.

Thick and stable ice along the shore is required before the caves would open to the public, and park officials say there's a "very good chance" the ice will cooperate this year.

They'll start measuring the thickness of the ice in January.

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