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. ūüôā

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. ūüôā 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.

About Grand Traverse

Grand Traverse Area Map

The Grand Traverse area basically covers the tip of the pinky finger on your hand map.

What? You don’t know what a hand map is? ¬†Then you must not be from Michigan! If you were from Michigan, you’d hold your left hand up, and with your right hand¬†you’d¬†point to the space where your pinky meets the ring finger. That’s the Grand Traverse area.

There are several counties that make up the region, all centering around Traverse City. The main hub of activity happens in T.C. It’s where you’ll most likely fly into.

Grand Traverse has been consistently making the headlines in the last few years. With high rankings on lists like best places to live, most romantic cities, best ice cream and best places for local wine.

Sshhhh! That’s what locals are saying¬†about these¬†accolades. Ssshhhhh!!!!

Well friends, I’m afraid that cat is out of the bag. Tourists are figuring out that the Grand Traverse area is the next best place to explore.

United States Map with Grand Traverse starred

If you are interested in traveling to the area, here’s some information you might want to know:

Location: In the northwestern part of the lower peninsula of the state of Michigan in the United States of America.

Language: English is the primary language, although the rural areas are historically farmland, so there is a significant Spanish speaking migrant worker population.

Local Terms: A Fudgie is a tourist, originally comes from one who has to buy Doug Murdock’s Fudge before leaving to go home. A Snowbird is a part time resident who flies the coop for warmer weather in the winter.

Currency: U.S. Dollars and some locals exchange Bay Bucks.

Time: Grand Traverse area is on Eastern Standard Time.

Airport: Cherryland Capital Airport.

Transportation: Taxi service in the Traverse City Region is served 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Hotels often have shuttle service. Public bus system serves most of the region. Car rentals are also available.

Counties: The counties we cover mostly in our blog are¬†Benzie, Grand Traverse and Leelanau. ¬†We’ll go into Antrim and Charlevoix ¬†at times, and may even stretch it up into Emmet County a little bit too.

Cities, Towns and Villages: Traverse City (T.C.) is the largest city in this area. Others include Petoskey, Charlevoix, Elk Rapids, Interlochen, Lake Ann, Lake Leelanau, Suttons Bay, Northport, Leland, Empire, Frankfort, Glen Arbor, Old Mission, Torch Lake and Mackinaw.

Population: The population was 14,674 at the 2010 census, with 143,372 in the Traverse City micro-politan area.

Geography: Other than it being the tips of the pinky and ring finger on your left hand? Maybe that’s not technical enough. The hills and lakes were shaped by glaciers thousands of years ago. Beach Maple Forests are mixed with Northern and White Pines. Sand dunes are vast. Crystal clear fresh water flows through the rivers and streams into the many inland lakes and finally out into the magnificent Great Lakes. The land is so special that a portion along the Lake Michigan shore is designated as the Sleeping Bear National Lakeshore.

Agriculture: Traverse City is the largest producer of tart cherries in the U.S. The first full week of July, the National Cherry Festival hosts approximately 500,000 visitors. The growing conditions on the peninsulas are also ideal for grapes, and there has been a recent boom in wineries popping up in the past couple of decades.

History: The area is named for the Grand Traverse Bay which is divided into East Grand Traverse Bay and West Grand Traverse Bay. Traverse City is located at the base. French voyagers in the 18th century named the bay le grande traverse or “the long crossing”. In the 19th century the area grew with the logging industry. Later came the cherry farmers and the railroad. Tourism was and is increasingly, a significant factor in helping to grow the area’s economy as well as the population.

Follow our blog to learn more about having your own grand adventure in the Grand Traverse area.