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Ontario ice caves

Exploring Ontario's ice caves is one of the coolest things you can do this winter

Every so often, Northern Ontario's bitterly cold winters transform the shores of Lake Superior, resulting in rare and spectacular ice caves.

Getting to witness and explore these caves is such an incredibly unique experience, that the New York Times even ranked the caves in their top 52 best places to visit in the world in 2019.

While it's quite the trek, a 9 hour drive to Lake Superior Provincial Park may reward you with a once in a lifetime opportunity. The International Joint Commission believes that this phenomenon may no longer exist in a few decades due to climate change.

Luckily, the caves still currently can form if conditions are right, due to a combination of intense cold winds and waves off the lake. When it's cold enough, you can even walk or snowshoe out onto the frozen lake.

One of the best places in Lake Superior Provincial Park to see the ice caves is Old Woman Bay. The bay's towering cliffs are striking, particularly when they become encased in ice. These ice caves will vary from year to year, depending on the season's conditions.

Lake Superior Provincial Park is closed in the winter, so no facilities are open and the lots are not plowed. If the ice caves do form, they are typically not very close to roads or parking lots, and require a long walk out on the lake in potentially dangerous conditions.

Due to the unpredictable nature of the ice at Lake Superior, it is highly recommended not to go out searching for the ice caves by yourself and to instead find an experienced guide. Here, the enormous pressure underneath the ice can make for sudden changes in thickness.

Lake Superior Ice Cave Tours and Stokely Creek Lodge are two of the more popular tours to the caves, with Stokely Creek also offering accommodation to visitors. Tours are anticipated to begin later this winter in February and into March.

If you're planning to visit, please be aware that as of the date of publishing, ice caves have not yet formed this year. There is also no guarantee the ice caves will freeze over, as they are highly dependent on weather conditions. It is best to check on park conditions with one of the tour companies ahead of your visit.

Lead photo by

Conor Mihell

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