The waves are always crashing at Cave Point, a 19-acre park snugged against the Lake Michigan shore in eastern Door County. And every winter, this reliably roaring surf creates magical ice sculptures along the park's dolomite cliffs, which stand sentinel along the lakefront. So if you're looking for a novel winter getaway, this is the spot.
Cave Point's intricately carved cliffs and underwater caverns were formed after centuries of relentless attack by Lake Michigan, whose waves increase in size and strength as they hurtle toward the rocky shore. The force of these waves smashing into the escarpment sends water spraying skyward – at times, 30 feet or more. And when the temps drop, it is these water sprays that create an unending and impressive array of icicles, which cling to the cliffs and adjacent tree branches. Ice shelves and other intriguing crystalline formations are birthed as well.
Before heading over, grab a pair of snowshoes or sturdy boots. The free county park has a few short trails along the bluffs, where you can ogle the ice formations – constantly changing due to the current, wind and waves. Be prepared for a true sensory experience, as you'll not only hear the roar of the waves as they crash into the rock, but you'll likely feel a rumbling underfoot from their mighty force, too.
Make sure to have your camera handy during your visit. Cave Point is a popular spot for photographers, as its impressive gray-and-white cliffs are juxtaposed against Lake Michigan's blue-green waters in an appealing fashion. And, of course, the sparkling ice formations add an exclamation point to the scene.
When you're ready to move on, hop onto the Black Trail, a 2.5-mile path that winds through a mixed hardwood forest to connect Cave Point with Whitefish Dunes State Park, a popular Door County stop that sits just to the south. Once in Whitefish Dunes, you can hike, snowshoe or cross-country ski on more than a dozen miles of trail.
The park's Red Trail passes Old Baldy, Wisconsin's tallest sand dune at 93 feet above the lake, while the Green Trail leads you through an old, forested dune, plus stands of white pine, hemlock, beech and maple. The Yellow Trail meanders through both a red pine plantation and wooded dunes. A nature center rounds out the offerings.
If you're able to hang around a few days, book one of the 15 guest rooms at Blacksmith Inn on the Shore, a bed and breakfast inn in nearby Baileys Harbor. All rooms feature fireplaces, whirlpool baths and lake views. The inn is said to have an endless supply of homemade cherry oatmeal cookies, too. For the utmost in convenience, rent the Lakeshore Retreat, a spacious home tucked right next to Whitefish Dunes State Park. The home, which sleeps seven, features cherry wood and slate floors, a fireplace, two outdoor patios and plenty of windows to take in the dramatic lake views. If you're lucky, you may spot eagles soaring overhead.
Dining options abound throughout the Door Peninsula. But you really don't need to meander farther than the nearby city of Jacksonport. Mike's Port Pub & Grill serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, featuring items like pancakes, chorizo burritos, fresh beef burgers and pizza. And don't skip the deep-fried cheese curds from Renard's, a cheese shop favored by locals.
Before heading back home, stop at Meridian Park, which sits in between Baileys Harbor and Jacksonport. The park is home to one of two 45th Parallel markers in Door County, which mark the spot that's exactly halfway between the Equator and the North Pole.
The health and safety of our travelers is our top priority. Please approach Cave Point with the utmost of caution. Respecting Wisconsin’s awe-inspiring natural land formations necessitates bringing the proper safety equipment with you on your adventure!
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