Danger in the Ice Caves

People out on frozen Lake Michigan at the ice caves


The day we went out to the ice caves on Lake Michigan it was the 34th day in a row that the temperatures were well below freezing, ranging from around 10° degrees Fahrenheit to -17 below. The ice was pretty solid.

​The weather has changed since then, hitting a high of 43 degrees yesterday.

Today it is 37 degrees and what does that mean for the ice?  It’s melting!  Yes, the ice on Lake Michigan is thick, but it will begin cracking and shifting as it continues to turn back into open water.

This makes for extremely dangerous conditions.

There is the possibility of falling through the ice into the icy water with little chance of getting out.  There is also the danger of these huge ice forms falling on you.

Please don’t go out there!  Enjoy the view from here:


Ice Caves on Lake Michigan

Rumor has it, there are huge ice caves on the big lake. Lake Michigan doesn’t freeze over every year. But this has been an exceptional winter so far.

So we had to go see for ourselves. And the rumors are true. There are huge ice caves on Lake Michigan. They are really good just out from the shore a few miles north of Leland. You have to park and walk a bit as the road is blocked off out to the lake.

Road closed out to the ice caves on Lake Michigan

And in case you make it past the barricades, the county road ends at the water. As the signs says. You probably shouldn’t drive past here anyway. 🙂

road ends at water sign ice on lake michigan

We walked onto the ice about 400 yards from the shoreline.

people walking out on frozen lake michigan ice

There were huge pieces of ice sticking straight up and frozen in in place vertically.

clear ice pieces on lake michigan

There were giant snow boulders encapsulated in huge sheets of ice.


There were ice caves about thirty feet high. Notice the people in the cave…and the big crack the ceiling of the cave? Yikes!

30 feet tall ice caves on lake michigan

There was white ice and blue ice and clear ice. We discovered clear ice buried under the snow. This picture was taken looking through very thick ice looking down onto the floor of Lake Michigan. The image on the right is not colorized! That’s how it really looked. The ice was more than one foot thick and the water was about six feet deep and it was this clear.

Looking through frozen Lake Michigan ice

What an awesome experience we had today!

Please share your thoughts and leave feedback and or questions.

And follow us on our next adventure in and around the Grand Traverse area!

panoramic view of the artic lake michigan

Edited: A note about safety. The ice can be very dangerous.  We are not suggesting you go out there. You can enjoy the views from the comfort of your own home online. 🙂 When we went out the temperatures had been well below freezing for more than three weeks. The next day the temperatures rose close to freezing and even a little above making for extremely dangerous ice conditions. Someone fell and got hurt.  Remember ice is very slippery too.

The Cicely Alaska of Traverse City, Michigan

Northern Exposure Traverse City

Years ago, in the 1990’s, our good friends knew they had an open invitation to come hang out at our house every Monday night.  The only catch was you had to be there by 10:00.  That was the time our favorite show, Northern Exposure came on the television. It was an open door on Monday nights.  Just for our closest friends.

We have never done that with any other television show.  Never had before then, and haven’t since. We were hooked. I think it was a combination of the story being told along with the blend of unique characters that lived in Cicely, Alaska. The tight-knit community they evoked on the show inspired us to create our own little community in Traverse City on Monday nights all winter long.

Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest

Today, we spent the day at the Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest .  Lake Ann is a little village about twenty minutes south-west of Traverse City. The locals call it LA. We felt like we’d been placed into the set of Northern Exposure.

The locals call it LA. We felt like we’d been placed into the set of Northern Exposure. The small town feeling was prevalent and charming.  The first guy we met stopped to talk with us while we got out of the car.  He gave us the rundown of the day.  We had just missed the pancake breakfast, but could still catch lunch at the town hall.  I think he was the towns Maurice Minnifield.

Welcome to Lake Ann Snow Pine Fest

Kids were having fun at a good old-fashioned pickup game of broomball on the village ice rink just off the park.

Ice Rink LA Snow Pine Fest

A red tractor ride pulled both young and old up the street to the museum and to a sledding hill complete with a warming station and hot cocoa to keep you warm!

Warming station LA Snow Pine Fest

We headed over to the town hall and took Maurice up on a bowl of chili, which we did but only after checking out the locally made quilt display at the Methodist church. This was an impressive display of handmade quilts made by the women of LA.

quilt show at methodist church lake ann snow pine fest 2014

The Almira Township Hall is a historical building in the center of town with original (creaky) wood floors, worn down by many community gatherings over the years.

Almira Township Hall downtown Lake Ann in Benzie County

We enjoyed our lunch and stayed for the live entertainment. The band played a mix of bluegrass and rockabilly. They were good! I really liked his white guitar.

Bluegrass band and his white guitar


Mother Nature provided a very wintry atmosphere for the Snow Pine Fest this year. These mailboxes buried in the snow bank prove it. It can be a challenge for the mailman, so they say. And I believe it. If it wasn’t bright orange, I may not have even seen this box buried in the snow.

mailboxes in snow

At the end of the day, the people of the village of Lake Ann were warm, friendly and very welcoming.  Thanks to all who worked hard and contributed toward putting on this small town winter fest.  It seems that everyone had a great time.  I know we did. 🙂

Hay Ride Tractor in the Snow Lake Ann