Apostle Islands Ice Caves
At the top of my list is the Apostle Islands Ice Caves located near Cornucopia, Wisconsin. The possibility of photographing the Apostle Islands Ice caves takes on added excitement each winter because they are frequently are not accessible from the lake. The last year that they were accessible from the lake was 2009. Unfortunately global warming has made this unique adventure something that is frequently just beyond reach. The ice caves are one of the wonders of the Upper Midwest and something not to be missed.
I usually start thinking about the ice caves in early summer and the excitement builds from there. In order to get close up to photograph the ice caves you need to walk out on the frozen ice of Lake Superior. Because ice conditions are uncertain the National Park Service has an Ice Hotline that you can call to check on accessibility to the ice caves. I usually start calling at the end of January.
If the ice is not safe there is a trail from Myers Beach that goes out along the cliffs above the ice caves that allows some nice views of the ice. If you are going to take this trail I would suggest wearing ice cleats and using hiking poles because the trail is steep in places and it can be slippery when well traveled. My website contains photos from several visits to the ice caves. One year we combined a trip to see the Apostle Sled Dog Race with a hike along the trail above the caves.
Sled Dog Racing
Off and Racing
Several years ago my wife and I took in our first sled dog race. We are really cat people so it was a stretch for us to go to an event featuring dogs. We were really surprised that we enjoyed it so much. The excitement generated by the dogs as they prepare for the race is infectious. They are so happy to be heading out on the trail racing that they can’t stop jumping and barking.
There are always a variety of interesting people at the sled dog races. If you really like dogs and want to become involved sled dog races are always looking for volunteers. It takes a lot of people to put on a sled dog race.
The Upper Midwest features a large number of sled dog races with the first starting in early January. Check out Sled Dog Central for a listing and status updates of races in the Upper Midwest. Given the mild winter it is best to check to make sure the race will be run as scheduled. The current issue of Lake Superior Magazine has an excellent article on the John Beargrease Sled Dog Marathon with some hints on photographing sled dog races. There are more shots of the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race and the CopperDog 150 Sled Dog Race on my website.
Skiing the U.P.
There is no place in the Midwest that can compete with Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in terms of snow. My wife and I love to cross country ski and the 20+ feet of powder that the U.P. normally receives can’t be beat. When we first started skiing in the U.P. we couldn’t believe that warm weather and powder could coexist but the lake effect snow is some of the most beautiful powder to be found. It’s so good that the U.P. is one of the best places in the country to photograph snowflakes. The current issue of Lake Superior Magazine also has an article on “Winter in the Keweenaw” showing some of the snow activities and scenery of this beautiful area. Our favorite spot is the Sweedtown Ski Trails in Calumet, Michigan. The skiing is great but more importantly they have the most beautiful snow conditions we have encountered. The trees are literally blanketed with snow,
In my opinion Bond Falls in the U.P. is the premier waterfall in the Upper Midwest for winter photography. It is located just below a dam on the Middle Branch of the Ontonagon River. While most waterfalls freeze solid during the winter Bond Falls is free flowing during the winter. Large ice sculptures combined with free flowing water make for some great photography.
Bond Falls is easily accessible although you will probably want to wear ice cleats because you may be walking on ice as the trail is close to the river and portions of it are frequently ice covered. Photos from several winter visits can be found on my website although you will need to page through some great fall pictures to find them.
Photographing birds during a snowfall is one of my major winter activities. A nice snowfall brings birds into the feeder in large numbers and they appear to be more tolerant of a person being around. We have already had two heavy snowfalls this year and I’m looking forward to more of them. On a bitter day when it’s difficult to be out and about nothing is more fun than sitting in front of a fire and watching the birds at the feeder. You can see more photographs of birds during snowstorms on my website. You will need to scan through the spring, winter and fall to see all of them.