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The Ice Caves along the south shore of Lake Superior are famous for their scenic winter beauty, but what are the chances we'll see them in 2022?

I have to admit two things right now: I love winter in Minnesota, and I also love (and am fascinated by) the Big Lake They Call Gitchee Gumee (that'd be Lake Superior.) So I'm always interested in that winter phenomenon known as the Lake Superior Mainland Ice Caves that sometimes form along the south shore of the big lake.

According to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the Mainland Lake Superior Ice Caves (located near Bayfield, Wisconsin, just over 4-and-a-half hours northeast of Rochester) are a winter phenomenon formed when water seeps down through the sandstone cliffs and then freezes into icicles and other ice formations.  They're often enhanced by spray from Lake Superior waves, and when the ice builds up enough, the incredible formations resemble a cave. (Thus the name.)

But the Ice Caves don't happen every year-- weather conditions have to be just right. And, it looks like, so far this year, conditions haven't been favorable enough for them to form, as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore officials noted on their Facebook page:

The Mainland Ice Caves are not accessible. As we enter January, there is still a LOT of open water on Lake Superior, and since walking across the frozen surface of Lake Superior is required to reach the caves, it is impossible to reach the caves at this time.

And, the post went on to say that it's not looking good for the caves to form later this winter, either, saying:  "The NOAA ice cover forecast for this winter on Lake Superior is for 8.5% maximum ice cover. In years that the Mainland Ice Caves have been accessible, Lake Superior ice cover has been over 90%," the post noted.

Now, while the Lake Superior Ice Caves may NOT be available this year, there IS a uniquely-Minnesotan ice feature that IS open this year. Keep scrolling to see what it is!

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