In short - it was a magical experience like no other. For the long version - keep reading! I had visited Munising, Michigan in the U.P once before back in 2017, during the peak fall season. During my visit, I learned about the ice caves that can be explored on Grand Island (about a mile off of the coast) during winter. I knew I would make my way there…some day. Well, that day turned out to be my birthday (truely a coincidence)!
I had reached out to a tour guide that takes people over to the island via snowmobile, and he told me last December that they have not been able to get to the Grand Island ice caves in three years, due to the ice in that particular region of the lake not being thick enough. I was certainly glad to know they took all due precautions when crossing a frozen lake the size of Lake Superior, which has very intense waves and currents. I am 158% sure that falling through the ice in that lake means you are whisked away in a heartbeat, and it would be impressive if your body was ever found again.
Fast forward to about 3 weeks ago. I got an email from them saying that the ice was finally thick enough! Three years waiting and it was finally possible! However, the duration of said “thick enough” ice was completely unknown. Because of that, they only book reservations one to two weeks in advance.
I opted to dive right in and make it happen! My wife and I made it a short three day trip, with literally just the ice caves on the agenda. Day 1 and 3 were both about just driving to/from the location, as it is about 7 to 8 hours north of us.
*Side note - I did make a revisit to Miners Falls, which turned out to be a very precarious journey. You can read my blog about that dramatic story here.
I don’t really want to ramble too much more, as the photos will (hopefully) speak for themselves. I will simply say that it was a very safe experience getting to the island, courtesy of Superior Grand Island Cave Tours (thanks, Scott!). I opted for the bit pricey photographers tour, which provided me access to several more caves than the standard tour, and I was often completely alone in a spot to photograph at my leisure with no one else in the way.
Unfortunately, we had a very cloudy and overcast morning, so despite leaving in pitch darkness (around 6:15am) to get there before sunrise, there really was no benefit to doing so. However, I did get to experiment with a photoshop feature of “Sky Replacement” to spice up some of the more gloomy wide shots, and I do think the results turned out very nice.
Without further ado, enjoy my favorite 31 images below, as well as four full 360 panoramas. Enjoy being immersed, all without freezing!
Get immersed with four 360° Panoramas
Founder and visual artist, specializing in all aspects of a businesses presence from imagery and video to graphics and web. A graduate of IPFW with a Bachelor in Fine Arts, Concentration Photography as well as an Associates Degree in Business. His personal photography works are focused on landscape, travel, and aerial photography.