Five Fantastic Winter Instagram Photos From Our Fans in February 2014

In a month of snow-capped trees and sweet celebrations, our Pure Michigan Instagram community captured colorful shots to brighten up the season. Set against a backdrop of shimmering winter snow, these photos never cease to amaze us! Here are just a few of our favorites from February. For more fan photos, check out our NovemberDecember and January roundups and follow us on Instagram.

A beautiful blazing sunrise over the Detroit river captured by Instagram user @sunlover88.

Turnip Rock near Port Austin is a spectacular sight to behold in any season! Photo by Instagram user @mikeconnick.

Sundown at the  Frankfort lighthouse. Photo by Instagram user @neilweaverphoto.

The faint glow of the Northern Lights captured in Marquette, MI. Photo by Instagram user @ztwede.

The colorful winter sun dips below the horizon in Manistee, MI. Photo by Instagram user @kayliemtoelle.

Have you captured a stunning shot in Pure Michigan recently?

If you’re on Instagram, follow us @puremichigan! If you’d like us to share your photos from across the state, please tag them with #PureMichigan to give us permission to “re-gram.”

Exploring the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Today, featured blogger Jesse Land of Things To Do in the U.P. tells us how to have a fantastic Pure Michigan winter adventure at the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. 

Photo courtesy of Habibi Photography

The Eben Ice caves in Marquette County are one of Michigan’s prime winter attractions. Each winter, once the ice caves start to freeze up (usually sometime in December), visitor’s flock to the tiny town of Eben Junction to see the ice caves and, while they’re out there, support local businesses like the Eben Ice Caves concession stand, the Rock River Cafe and the New Moon Tavern.

Eben Ice Caves – The Basics

The “Rock River Canyon Ice Caves” better known as the Eben Ice Caves, form when melting snow runs over the edge of a small cliff and freezes, forming “ice caves” Much like the large ice formations along Munising’s Grand Island and parts of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, if you were to visit here in the summer you would see little to no water running over the edge.

It’s the perfect combination of a slow snow melt and frigid temperatures that causes these “caves” of ice to form.

The Hike to the Caves

Photo courtesy of Things to Do in the U.P.

This isn’t an attraction where you can pull up in your car, walk a few feet and be done. It’s not a long hike, but yes, you will have to get out and stretch your legs. And for the pet owners out there, yes, the area is pet friendly. Each time I’ve visited the ice caves I’ve seen more than a few dogs on the trail.

The hike from the parking area to the ice caves is about .75 miles. The first .25 mile stretch is a very flat walk through a farmer’s field. And just a note on that, the farmer allows people like you and me to pass through the field at no charge and if the kind family that owns the land ever stopped allowing this, the hike to the ice caves would be much longer. In addition to that, the land owners now offer portable bathrooms in the parking area at no charge. So, show your thanks by purchasing a hot beverage or a snack at their concession stand if you’re able!

A Word on Snowshoes and Ice Cleats

Photo courtesy of Things to Do in the U.P.

After a foot of snow got dumped on the area just two days before my recent visit, I asked a friend who lives in nearby Chatam if I should bring snowshoes. “It’s never a bad idea to bring the shoes,” he said, “but I”m guessing it’ll be packed down by then.”

He was right. Snowshoes would have only made the hike more difficult. So if you have them, bring them in case you happen to visit right after a big snowstorm. Otherwise, wear ice cleats.

Some form of ice cleats (I like Yaktrax but any of them should help!) can go a long way toward enhancing your Eben Ice Caves experience. Trust me. On any given day, about half the people visiting the caves are wearing cleats, and the other half wish they had them. The main reason is that, with ice cleats, you’re able to walk around inside the ice caves on relatively sure footing. And without them, it’s a little treacherous. The ice inside the caves is very smooth so traditional rubber boots tend to slide around quite a bit.

But another reason to wear cleats is that the trail out to the caves has some steep ups and downs. You’ll see many spots where people slide down hills on their bottoms, and then struggle to get up the other side. In short, if you’re wearing cleats (like myself and my cohorts were on our last outing) you’ll be able to walk right up and down those slippery spots. On my last visit, a college aged girl looked a little stunned as I walked right by her on a slippery hill and said “Oh, so that’s what it’s like when you have traction.”

Okay, enough about the ice cleats. You get the point!

Getting There

Photo courtesy of Habibi Photography

The Eben Ice Caves used to be a little hard to find, but no longer. Just set your GPS for Eben Junction, MI. (Or use Google Maps to find it.) From M-94 in Eben Junction, turn north onto Eben Road and drive about 1.5 miles to Frey Road. Turn right on Frey Road and drive to the end (if you can) or if it’s a busy day just find a spot to park along the road. It’s not unusual to see fifty or more cars parked here on a nice weekend day. Also, Eben Road and Frey Road have yellow signs on them that say “Ice Caves”, so keep an eye out for those.

All in all, though it’s a bit of a drive out to the ice caves, I’d highly recommend checking them out! As far as Michigan ice caves go, these are the most accessible I know of.

Have you been to the Eben Ice Caves? What did you think?

 

Written by Jesse Land of Things to do in the U.P. on behalf of Travel Marquette Michigan.

 

 

Beat the Winter Blues with Some Indoor Family Fun

While the spring season is drawing near, there’s still plenty of time to enjoy some fun indoor activities in Pure Michigan. If your family seems to have come down with cabin fever this winter, these great family activities are sure to put a spring in their step heading into warmer days. Here is a roundup of just a few of the many awesome indoor activities to take advantage of during the winter months. For more indoor family fun, visit michigan.org

Indoor Waterparks

New and Improved! – Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark: Boyne Falls, MI

Photo courtesy of Boyne Mountain Resort

If you’re looking for a new thrill, you won’t want to miss Michigan’s first ProSlide SuperLOOP™, an extreme body slide with a 360 degree loop. This epic slide opened earlier this winter at Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls.  The Big Couloir experience begins in a launch capsule and features a trap door that drops away and propels riders into an enclosed tunnel traveling with G-force at speeds up to 38 feet per second.  The new half-million dollar attraction is a real adrenaline rush combining anticipation with a free fall sensation and speed!  For those not quite so daring, Avalanche Bay also has many other aquatic attractions.  As Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark at 88,000 square feet, the park boasts six amazing waterslides, a Rip Zone surfing wave, four-story mountain water-play structure, shallow children’s pool, activity pool, lazy river, relaxing hot tubs, mega-arcade, and pub with a full bar.  The park has received top honors being named a top ten indoor waterpark in the U.S. by Budget Travel and featured among America’s coolest indoor waterparks by Travel + Leisure.  Half- and full-day waterpark passes are available and discounts are provided to resort lodging guests. Boyne Mountain’s Ski & Splash Package includes lodging, lift ticket, waterpark admission, hot breakfast, and tubing from $112 per person, per night.

Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark: Frankenmuth, MI

Treat your family to an unforgettable weekend at Zehnder’s Splash Village Hotel & Waterpark in Frankenmuth. Enjoy over 30,000 sq. ft. of aquatic fun with Splash landing play area, dumping bucket, giggling gorge and Perilous plunge. Relax in the whimsical whirl hot tub or just float along the lazy river. After splashing around, experience some of Frankenmuth’s many other offerings – including Bronner’s CHRISTmas Wonderland, located just next door to Zehnder’s and open 361 days a year!

Great Wolf Lodge: Traverse City, MI

The Great Wolf Lodge in Traverse City features a 38,000 square-foot indoor water park with 8 waterslides, 5 pools, 2 whirlpools and a 4-story/12-level interactive Tree House Water Fort. The state-of-the-art facility utilizes nearly 200,000 gallons of water that is splashed, sprayed, waved and played in by both kids and parents alike.

Hands On Activities

The Henry Ford: Dearborn, MI

Photo courtesy of The Henry Ford

The Henry Ford boasts four one-of-a-kind attractions, 200 acres including Greenfield Village (closed during the winter season) and the Ford Rouge Factory Tour, that will bring you through the ages. Notable treasures such as John F. Kennedy’s Limousine, Rosa Parks bus, and Abraham Lincoln’s chair, plus experiences such as Model T Rides and an assembly plant walking tour make your visit to The Henry Ford truly unique. The Henry Ford offers a glimpse inside centuries of American life with hand-on activities for the kids throughout!

Michigan Science Center: Detroit, MI

The Michigan Science Center is a unique and dynamic hands-on museum, offering programs and activities that inspire families to discover, explore and appreciate science, technology and math in a fun environment. The museum takes an interactive approach to science with engaging, hands-on shows and activities, including Michigan’s only Chrysler IMAX Dome Theater and exhibits covering topics such as space, motion, health and nutrition, engineering and more!  Check out the website for hours, show times, special events and traveling exhibits.

Ann Arbor Hands On Museum: Ann Arbor, MI

Discover the scientist within you at the Ann Arbor Hands On Museum. This interactive museum features more than 250 hands-on exhibits, including some visitor favorites such as whisper dishes, tornado, Building in a Building, Google Liquid Galaxy and the popular water table!  Perfect for kids and adults of all ages, you’ll have a blast witnessing science demonstrations and special events that bring chemistry, physics, geology, math, music and more to life! Visit the website for special events and programs.

Morley Candy and Sanders Factory Tour: Clinton Township, MI

Morley Candy Makers is the place where Sanders chocolate and desserts are created. Morley Candy Makers free factory tour is perfect the family and available Monday through Friday. The journey begins with the story of chocolate, how chocolate is made and how Sanders and Morley Candy Makers got their start in Detroit. Observe Michigan’s largest candy maker create delicious treats in the 100 foot observation walkway, enjoy a chocolate sample and visit the unique candy shop to put the finishing touch on your visit.

Jump, Bounce, and Play

AirTime Trampoline and Game Park: Troy, MI

AirTime Trampoline & Game Park is a high energy trampoline and music experience unlike any other. Imagine bouncing up and down on wall to wall trampolines with the speakers pumping out your favorite songs. With over 15,000 square feet of trampolines and foam pits, guests can flip, jump and bounce while enjoying time with family and friends. AirTime is an exciting activity and perfect outlet for energetic kids!

Jeepers: Auburn Hills, MI

Jeepers is an indoor animated theme park for families with children age 12 and under. The park provides a broad variety of entertainment activities including amusement park rides, soft play areas and skill games, plus comfortable family dining and birthday parties all in a climate controlled indoor setting. Visit the website for hours, prices and events!

Where is your favorite place in Michigan to enjoy some indoor fun?