Blink and you missed your chance to visit the Apostle Islands ice caves this year.
The glittering, ice-encrusted caves along the Wisconsin shore of Lake Superior closed for the season Monday evening. Forecasts of gale force winds and temperatures soaring into the 40s and 50s this week forced officials at the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore to call an early end to public access to the caves.
"It was a short but sweet ice cave season — thanks for coming!" park officials announced on their Facebook page.
In the nine days the caves were open and accessible to visitors this season, 36,000 people trekked across the slippery surface of Lake Superior to marvel at the caves. This past weekend alone, the park service saw 17,000 visitors.
Last winter, 138,000 visitors flocked to the caves near Cornucopia, Wis., over the course of 10 weeks. The frigid polar vortex made the caves accessible for the first time in five years and images of the glittering caves quickly went viral on social media.