|NATIONAL PARKS QUICKLINKS|
A glimpse of the Apostles’ iconic shoreline caves and sandstone arches usually comes from a kayak—and from a distance, as Lake Superior’s rollicking waves make it risky to paddle too close. But from late January to March, the lake sometimes freezes enough to allow up-close exploration as ice transforms the dramatic features. Depending on conditions, you might see the rust-red landforms draped in bulbous white sheets, hung with hundreds of ribbed icicles, or wrapped with glassy tentacles of ice. Get your fix on a six-mile hike (out-and-back) from Meyers Beach to the mainland’s best stretch of caves (call the park’s Ice Line first to check conditions: 715-799-3397, ext. 3). Trekking poles and mini-crampons (or skis or snowshoes after a storm) are a must. The caves begin a mile east of the trailhead and wind for two more. You’ll see everything from hands-and-knees tunnels that twist behind the sheer cliff face to 60-foot-high caverns like The Garage at mile 1.8, one of the largest. Go after an extended subzero spell to see the most intricate ice sculptures, and time your trip for sunset to catch the cliffs splashed in their most vibrant reds and yellows.
Note: There is a year-round daily parking fee at Meyers Beach and reservations and a permit are required for camping. Make reservations and check trail (and ice) conditions with the Park Service at (715) 779-3397 or www.nps.gov/apis.
-Text by Elisabeth Kwak-Hefferan. Mapping help from Gary Jean http://photo.garyjean.com/kayak