If you're one of the thousands of people that either fell in love with the icy natural wonders of the Apostle Islands ice caves or you regret not being able to make the trip last year, I have some good news! Julie Van Stappen, the chief planning and resource officer for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, says there is a "very good chance" the caves will be able to be visited again this year.

Stappen told the Pioneer Press that while it's really anyone's guess at this point, if low winds and cold temperatures continue, visitors may be able to visit the caves on foot for the second year in a row. Last year, the caves opened January 15 to visitors for the first time in five years. While the caves remained open to visitors last winter, an estimated 138,000 people traveled from around the country to visit the beautiful natural spectacle.

If the caves do open again this winter, here are a few things to know. First, while it has been free to visit in years past, there may be a fee charged this year. UPDATE: The park service has approved plans to charge a fee if the caves are open this year. Read more about it here.

Beyond the new fee, do be aware that it is a little bit of a hike. The walk from the access point to the start of the shoreline where the caves start is about 1 mile along the icy shoreline. While this may put some folks off, the walk isn't very difficult, and it is definitely worth it. That said, ice cleats are a good investment, if you don't already have them. Finally, try to plan your trip during a non-peak time. Weekends see thousands of people visiting all at once, while weekdays are considerably less busy. I went on a Tuesday last year, and while there were still a few hundred people there, it was much less congested than weekends can be.

Hopefully the right conditions continue and allow for another year of enjoying the ice caves! Here are a couple pictures from my visit last March.