The unusually cold weather may make you groan, but there’s a perk for people who like to see natural wonders up close. The ice-encrusted caves along Wisconsin’s Lake Superior shoreline, on the mainland section of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, can be explored by foot thanks to frozen Lake Superior. Such an opportunity is a rare one; it last occurred five years ago.

My colleague Brian Peterson documented in photographs and video the wonder of it all — the icy formations turning caves into shimmering cocoons, the wide-eyed and well-bundled visitors hiking across the lake, the countless icicles that can make a cave seem like the inside of a pincushion.

But why content yourself with that, when the ice caves are a mere hour-and-a-half drive east from Duluth. (Follow signs to Cornucopia, Wis., and keep traveling northeast on Hwy. 13 until you hit Meyers Beach Road.) Consider it an excuse for a weekend away.

There are ample places to stay in Duluth, a stopping-off point that offers its own fun; hello, Spirit Mountain and Great Lakes Aquarium (www.visitduluth.com). Or stay nearer the ice caves in Bayfield, Wis., a town that has lots of lodging options and bustles in summer as the jumping-off point to the Apostles (bayfield.org).

Before you head out, check the website of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, at www.nps.gov/apis. It provides information about visiting, including tips on what to bring. Carry water, so you can stay hydrated on the mile-plus hike to the caves. Skip the skis because the uneven ice makes gliding impossible; instead bring hiking or ski poles that can help keep you steady. Also, call this number for ice conditions: 1-715-779-3397, extension 3.

 

Send your questions or tips to travel editor Kerri Westenberg at travel@startribune.com.