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My Journey to the Stunning Eben Ice Caves

Updated: Apr 18

An Icy Early Morning Hike


Eben Ice Caves, Hiawatha National Forest at Rock River Canyon Wilderness near Eben Junction, Michigan


I’d never been to the Eben Ice Caves until a few years ago. After chatting with a photographer friend who had been there on several occasions, I decided it was time to plan my own trip. It would involve a hike (which I love), and he gave me advice on the terrain – it’s rocky, and can be treacherous in places. What to look for, and tips about how to have the best experience.


Wide-shot photograph of the Eben Ice Caves

My first view of the Caves


I planned my trip and waited, anticipation percolating as the day drew nearer. What would the Caves look like in person? What challenges might I face on the hike? What might I see along the way?


The Journey

I left the hotel early, wanting to take my time on the drive to enjoy the gorgeous Michigan scenery, all the while envisioning the beauty of the Caves I’d only seen in photos.

 

I got to Hiawatha National Forest early and confident. I put on my ice cleats, stowed my camera safely, and headed out. The hike was several beautiful miles, and I trekked over logs, rocky terrain, and even an ominous natural crevice or two. I ignored my natural inclination to stop and stare at everything. I was determined to reach my destination. The hike was so peaceful, with birdsongs and a wild ambiance that soothed my soul.

 

As I neared the Caves, I remembered the tips from my friend – veer off the path and keep an eye out. When I stepped through the trees, my jaw dropped.




The Eben Ice Caves

The view was absolutely awe-inspiring. The icy climb to the caves made me so glad I’d worn my ice cleats – not only to keep me grounded, but safe as I maneuvered through the terrain. Because I’d arrived so early, there was only one other person there, and for a while, I indulged in the glory of the Caves. Stunning, dripping icicles, natural formations that hinted at Mother Nature’s artistry. Colors I had only seen in print came to life before my eyes – astounding blues, icy greens, and a myriad of silver and white.


A close up of the ice formations, and the otherwordly green hue.

A close up of the ice formations, and the otherwordly green hue.


The Next Adventure

To say I didn’t want to leave is an understatement. But let’s be honest – they’re ice caves, and it’s Michigan – it was COLD. My fingers finally started to freeze, and I could no longer press my shutter down. I trekked back to my car, cold and delirious with joy. Not only did I manage the hike alone, but I stood surrounded by the wonderous natural phenomenon and soaked it all in. I made it! I drove back to the hotel, warmed up, and moved on to my next adventure in Michigan's fabulous Upper Penninsula.

 

Have you been to the Eben Ice Caves? What was your experience? I’d love to hear your stories. If you’ve never been, I highly recommend planning a trip. To see more photos from the Caves and other Michigan Landscapes, visit my gallery here.


Live wildly,

KWB





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