Apostle Islands Ice Caves & Sled Dog Race

We celebrated Chinese New Year by taking a 4-day trip to Wisconsin in the one of the coldest winter months in the recent years. The purpose of this trip was to visit the Apostle Islands Ice Caves and the 19th annual Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race.

On Thursday, we began our slow journey in a snow storm despite the “No Travel Advisory” warning issued by the state Department of Transportation. The driving condition was terrible as the back country roads were mostly unplowed. Nevertheless, after several hours of slow driving, we arrived at Copper Falls State Park. We snowshoed for about 2 hours before heading to our accommodation in Bayfield.

On Friday, after having heavy delicious breakfast at the local restaurant, we headed to Meyers Beach to visit the Apostle Islands Sea Caves, also known as the Apostle Islands Ice Caves in the winter months. This is the first time since 2009 that the ice on the lake are thick enough to safely walk on, thanks to the polar vortex we had experienced in the recent weeks. We planned our trip a week before it went viral in the local and national news. It was reported that 6000 visitors showed up on Saturday and 2500 visitors showed up on Sunday. We were glad that we visited the ice caves a day before the weekend because we had ample of space to walk around and admire the beauty of the ice formations without having people obstructing our views. It was about a mile of walking on a packed down trail from the parking lot to the nearest ice cave. Based on our GPS, we hiked 4.6 miles round trip for about 5 hours at subzero temperature.

On Saturday, we attended the 19th annual Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race in the morning. We arrived half hour before the race began and we wandered around aimlessly. There were about 45 sled dog teams from 3 states as well as Ontario, Canada. The races ranged from youth race to the 10-dog class, a race that covered 88 miles over 2 days. It was reported that this year’s race was the most attended with about 2000 spectators. We spent about two hours there before heading back to our accommodation for lunch.

After realizing we could drive on Lake Superior, we made a last-minute change in our initial plan and visited Big Bay State Park. So, we drove 2.5 miles from the mainland to Madeline Island on Lake Superior. This secluded state park turned out to be a hidden gem because 1) it was almost “human-free” and 2) the ice formations along the cliffs were incredibly beautiful. We snowshoed for about 2 hours in the park before capturing the sunset over Bayfield from the island.

Definitely a memorable trip. Yes, it was freezing cold throughout the trip. Yes, we frequently experienced numb extremities even with our winter gears on. And… it was well worth it. In 4 days, we witnessed the ice caves for the first time, watched a sled dog race for the first time, drove on Lake Superior for the first time and visited 2 state parks in Wisconsin for the first time.

Day 1: Driving in snow storm.
Day 1: Untouched snow formation in Copper Falls State Park.
Day 2: The incredible Apostle Islands Ice Caves.
Day 2: Ice stalagmites in Apostle Islands Ice Caves.
Day 2: Driving on Lake Superior in the evening.
Day 3: Attending the 19th annual Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race.
Day 3: Ice formation in Big Bay State Park.
Day 3: Sunset view over Bayfield from Madeline Island.
Driving 2.5 miles from the mainland to Madeline Island on Lake Superior to Big Bay State Park.
Road trip to Wisconsin.

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