Wisconsin's Lake Superior shoreline, known by many as the South Shore, features some pretty incredible sea caves along the shoreline cliffs of the Bayfield Peninsula. Many locals and tourists explore these stunning sea caves by kayak or other watercraft during the summer months, but wintertime brings a whole new experience.

As ice and snow melt from above and re-freeze along the cliffs of the shoreline, breathtaking sheets of icicles and other formations develop, creating what many call the "ice caves".

One of the best-known ice caves experiences is also one of the hardest to enjoy. When conditions are just right, visitors to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore can depart for a trek across ice on Lake Superior to explore these frigid wonders on foot. Conditions rarely allow for ice to form that is safe enough for people to do this on the open part of the shoreline, which makes these incredible experiences quite rare. The last times these were accessible was in 2014 and briefly in 2015.

READ MORE: See photos from the 2014 Apostle Islands Ice Caves

On the protected side of the Bayfield Peninsula, there are other ice caves tour options to explore, offering a similar experience during most winters, being that part of the shoreline is protected by the outer islands and ice can form that is safe enough to walk on.

This winter, however, is a different situation. As we've been hearing about ice rescues and thin ice across lakes around the Northland, there is still a way to view the ice caves along the Bayfield Peninsula!

How to experience Northern Wisconsin's Lake Superior Ice Caves by boat

John French via Apostle Islands on Facebook
John French via Apostle Islands on Facebook

The same company that offers the tours of the sheltered ice caves tours I mentioned above also offers some boat tours of the main lake ice caves too!

Woods and Water Guide Services out of Bayfield is offering intimate boat tours of the main ice caves along the open shoreline of Lake Superior, launching from Herbster, Wisconsin, exploring areas like Romans Point, Spirit Point, and Myers Beach, which are among the popular locations people access by foot during winters where conditions are right. If possible, these tours also visit Red Cliff, Houghton, and Bono areas along the other side of the peninsula as well.

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These boat experiences include a two-hour tour for up to 6 passengers. The smaller crowd sizes will allow small groups to get up close to some of these spectacular ice caves during a winter where it is pretty unlikely people will be able to access them on foot.

John French via Apostle Islands on Facebook
John French via Apostle Islands on Facebook

Tours are contingent on cooperative weather conditions and waves under 1 foot and guests aboard the boat are required to dress warm enough to handle 20-degree temperatures for the 1-2 hours you'll be in the boat.

Tours are currently limited to Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays starting January 5 and currently scheduled through January 14.

Photos in this story come from one of the winter kayak tours the company previously did, but it gives you an idea of what sort of visuals are possible on one of these boat tours if there has been enough melting or splashing from the lake to form some ice on the rocks.

For more information about these tours or to buy your tickets, visit the boat tour website.

See Photos of Apostle Islands Ice Caves

See the Apostle Islands Ice Caves as they appeared in 2014, the second to last time they were open to the public.

Gallery Credit: Nick Cooper

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