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Ice Caves of the Upper Peninsula

One of the unique attraction in the central U.P. is the Eben Ice Caves. On any given weekend you will find hundreds of people walking to visit this 30 foot shhet of ice. If solitude is your game, Eben might not be your best bet to see ice formations. The great news is there are virtually thousands of caves, pillars, and enormous sheets of ice to explore throughout the Munising area- some within minutes of your vehicle. In my humble opinion the ice cave formations at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and Grand Island are far "superior" to those over in Eben and many of the caves will be deserted, left to be explored peacefully.

It seems the most visited ice formations are those the form along the East Channel of Grand Island, located a short distance across Lake Superior from the Pictured Rocks Sand Point Parking area. Many folks start their journey from this point, across the channel to the caves. We know people prefer this route as it is the closest point to point to get out to the caves. A safer and more reliable route....and the one DWS recommends is to take off from the Grand Island Public access and ski, walk, snowbike, skijour or snowshoe out to the island and skirt the shore to the caves. Yes, this is a much longer route but we feel the one that will keep you and your loved ones from taking a chilly winter dip in Lake Superior. The East Channel is known for its strong currents and unpredictable ice so please check with the Park Service headquarters before venturing out on any Lake Ice.

While exploring during the winter, and to have a more enjoyable ice caves adventure, we recommend bringing appropriate winter boots, ice cleats, trekking poles, a day pack with extra clothing, food, warm drinks, hand warmers, and to leave a note with a responsible person on where you exploring.

Experiencing the beauty of the ice caves can and will take your breath away. 200 foot cliffs sandstone cliffs along Lake Superior seep water to create these beautiful formations that will instantly put you in an arctic landscape. Inside the ice caves awaits a fairyland of needle-like icicles and frost covered walls.

Ice Climber in the ice caves of pictured rocks national lakeshore in Michigan's Upper Peninsula Andrew Burr photo

These ice formations have been climbed for decades and more than likely if you go exploring ice formations anywhere at Pictured Rocks or Grand Island there will be a good chance of encountering a climber. I can assure you climbers are a friendly sociable group and will be willing to answer any questions about ice climbing. For your safety please do not walk under or around the ice while climbers are climbing. Ice will fall during the ascent and could easily injure a spectator.

Ice Crystals in Pictured Rocks national Lakeshore
Ice Crystals forming a cave in the Upper Peninsula

Don't want to venture out onto Lake superior? Looking for a short walk to see amazing caves or pillars of ice? Consider picking up the Ice Climbers Guide to Munising! This book details where the ice is located (including GPS coordinates) with some of the ice formations minutes from your vehicle.

Ice Climber above an icy Lake Superior in Michigan's Upper Peninsula Andrew Burr photo

Cover of An Ice Climber's guide to the Upper Peninsula

The books are available at Down Wind Sports stores, or at www.shopdownwindsports.com. If you have any other questions about visiting the ice formations please don't hesitate to give us a call at 906-226-71122