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Great Lakes freeze draws record visitors to ice caves national park

March 21, 2014

APOSTLE ISLANDS NATIONAL SHORELINE, Wisconsin (CNN) — For thousands of years, waves on the largest of the Great Lakes have battered northwest Wisconsin, shaping the dramatic sandstone caves of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

But that punishment halted this winter when 93% of Lake Superior froze, creating a spectacular icy landscape many locals say they haven’t seen in a generation.

It’s a serendipitous spinoff from the five Great Lakes being virtually frozen over this winter, a rare event that marks the arctic misery afflicting the Midwest. At one point, more than 90% of the world’s largest surface freshwater system was frozen over, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said. That figure for the Great Lakes fell to 84% as of Wednesday.

The massive freeze, however, has created natural wonders.

Bob Krumenaker, the National Park Service’s superintendent at Lakeshore, said there have been thousands of additional visitors flocking to ice caves.

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