Sunset over Lake Michigan in winter as seen from Cave Point, Door County.
Despite living in Wisconsin for several decades, I’d never heard of Cave Point until recently. This tiny county park sits in southeastern Door County in the state’s narrow, jagged thumb. Cave Point is unique in that part of it lies within the much larger Whitefish Dunes State Park. But despite its lesser status, the park has a huge advantage: its geology and precise location, which result in fantastical ice formations every winter.

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Cave Point perches atop one of the westernmost portions of the Niagara Escarpment, a 1,000-mile Dolomite ridge running from New York to Wisconsin, passing through Canada and Michigan en route. Some 400 million years ago, this massive, arced rock formation lay at the bottom of the Silurian Sea. Today, its biggest claim to fame is that its eastern portion is the cliff over which Niagara Falls plunges.

Cave Point Dazzles

So what’s the secret to the ice? Well, the park unspools 900 feet along Lake Michigan in a deeply scalloped pattern. Over the millennia, the constant crashing of the water against the rock created underwater sea caves, limestone ledges and intriguing rock formations. In the summer, kayakers and divers love to explore them from the water. Other people love standing atop the ridge when it’s stormy. Because when strong winds blow from the south or east, Lake Michigan’s powerful waves smash into the rocky bluffs, often causing impressive water sprays. These water sprays can shoot 20 to 30 feet above the lake’s surface.

It’s these water sprays, come winter, that coat everything they touch with glittering crystal. The ice forms in innumerable View of Lake Michigan through ice-covered tree branches in Cave Point, Door County.patterns. You’ll see tree trunks coated in a thick sheet of ice, while branches might sport delicate icicles. The formations change every day, too, because the wind and water are constantly forming and reforming them.

Safely Exploring Cave Point

Make sure to stay safely back from the edge of the cliff during your visit. Some people have perished by getting too close, then sliding over the edge. Wear screw shoes, traction cleats or snowshoes when you visit. Beware if you’re there on a stormy day, too. There are blow holes a few feet in from the shore, and sometimes icy water can spray up them and right in your face. Don’t forget your camera! You’ll be sure to return home with incredible photos.

My top recommended gear for exploring Cave Point: Yaktrax traction cleatsThese are super light and incredible. My hubby prefers these IceSpike cleats you screw into the bottoms of an old pair of shoes.

Always wanted to see Niagara Falls via a Maid of the Mist boat tour? Book your tour here.




©2018 Melanie McManus – All Rights Reserved

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