The Eben Ice Caves

March 20, 2007

Columns of Ice, Eben Ice Cave

Columns of Ice, Eben Ice Cave, photo by John Clement Howe.

This photo is one of a nice set titled At the Ice Cave of Eben taken in March of 2007 (or view slideshow of the Eben Ice Caves). A document from a field trip led by Dr. John Anderton of the Northern Michigan University Department of Geography explains:

The Eben Ices Caves are located just a few miles north of the little town of Eben, within the Rock River Canyon Wilderness Area (RRCW). The RRCW, which became a Wilderness in 1987 as a part of the Michigan Wilderness Act, is located approximately 15 miles west of the town of Munising, MI, within the Munising Ranger District of the Hiawatha National Forest. It comprises 4,460 acres and contains outstanding natural features including Rock River, Silver Creek and Ginpole Lake. Within its interior there are two short user-developed trails (totaling about 1.75 miles) leading to Rock River Falls and the Eben Ice Caves. An estimated 1,700 people visit the area annually (USFS records) …

The Ice Caves are not true caves at all. They consist of walls or vertical sheets of ice that form across the face of overhanging rock outcrops. In the summer, small unimpressive waterfalls and groundwater seeps may found along the overhangs. In the winter, however, the water hits the cold air, drips downward under the influence of gravity and freezes, creating spectacular ice caves. Each winter they look a little different, but typically there are openings in the ice that allow you to walk behind the ice walls.

The rock overhangs, where the ice caves form, consist of outcrops of Munising Formation (Cambrian) with a capstone of AuTrain Formation (Ordovician). The outcrops are found along the south side of the valley of Silver Creek, which is part of a network of secondary glacial drainage channels that formed during the Marquette Advance (about 10,000 years ago). Theses secondary drainage channels flowed easterly into the AuTrain-Whitefish Channel, a primary glacial meltwater channel that flowed south to the Lake Michigan basin. Groundwater naturally seeps from these rocks, providing the water necessary to form the ice caves in the winter.

For directions and more info, check out Rock River Falls & Rock River Canyon Wilderness Area (Hunts’ UP Guide) and Visit The Eben Ice Caves (Marquette Country CVB).

21 Responses to “The Eben Ice Caves”

  1. michpics Says:

    John offered this “guest pass” to surf the larger sized photos.


  2. fivecats Says:

    Spectacular photo, but these ice caves are cool! (Pun not intended) I’ve read about them and seen a few photos, but none like this.


  3. Linda Says:

    The Ice Caves are wonderful. How long do they last–through March, April? My sister & I are hoping to travel to the Upper Peninsula in June. Is there any motel accomodation in Eben? and what else is there to see? Our father was Finnish, and we are interested in anything truly Finnish.



  4. michpics Says:

    I would recommend contacting the Marquette CVB with your questions. They have information on other area things to see and do.

    My hunch is that they are melted or soon to be so.


  5. Greg Says:

    This is NOT a photo of the Eben Ice cave(s), but looks like the frozen falls in Munising. Anyone that has made the trek to the Eben Ice Cave(s) and to the falls in Munising would know that.


    • John Clement Howe Says:

      This is indeed the Eben Ice Cave as it looked in March, 2007. Greg is mistaken. Perhaps he was confused because the striated rock wall that forms the backdrop of the Munising Falls is similar to the rock overhang of the Eben Ice Cave. Here is a link to my photo of Munising falls taken later on the same day:


    • Pat Says:

      Sorry Greg, but you are mistaken. These are the ice caves, not Munising falls. This is from a local who has been to both many times and lived by Munising Falls for 18 yrs.


  6. John Clement Howe Says:

    Apparently the link didn’t post. I will try another:


  7. Loretta Dugan Says:

    anyone know what it is like to bring kids to the eben caves. My daughter is 3 and i want to take her but im not sure what the trail is like. If anyone has any idea please let me know. Thank you


    • Jenn Says:

      The trek to the caves is about 20-30 minutes. Several people there yesterday were bringing small children on sleds. You will have to leave the sled after a while because the last quarter or so is steep and narrow in places. The last approach up to the cave is very steep with a drop off on one side.

      People make the hike in just boots, but having snowshoes, especially for the last part, is worth it. You won’t need big ones as the snow is pretty packed, but the traction they provide makes getting up and down the hills easier and more stable.


  8. tom Says:

    was wanting to go to the Eben Ice Caves,I’m trying to put together an outing for my daughters and they are really wanting to se the caves :) the weekend of the Sat5-Sun6 of February 2011, not quite sure where they are located exactly. I do know that to get to them you have to treck some through private property, wonder is; 1)is there a cost?.. 2)is there a certain time to go or is it open at all hours?-I am looking at a time frame between 9AM-3PM for Saturday,..and between 11AM-5PM.. could you help me with this ?? I live in Ishpeming,whats the best route from here? If you have anymore info that might be of use,please share :) thank you, Tom B


  9. […] pool and learning about Michigan’s waterfalls and lighthouses, points of interest like the Eben Ice Caves or Big Boy Graveyard, and everything from the history of our state to the mysteries of the northern […]


  10. […] know that winter is here when the searchers start showing up for the Eben Ice Caves. In our first post on the Eben ice caves, Northern Michigan University professor Dr. John Anderton (who I got to know by chance this spring) […]


  11. Julie Savard Says:

    Thank you for posting this! Im from Escanaba, but had never even heard of this. Beautiful!


  12. Rose R Says:

    The Eben Ice Caves are awesome! Make sure you leave a afternoon open to take a hike in to see them.


  13. could somebody let me know if the ice caves are frozen enough yet to make it worth going there? Thanks!


  14. farlane Says:

    Hey Jeremy – looks like they are – check out the Eben Ice Caves Facebook page


  15. At this time I am ready to do my breakfast, when having my breakfast
    coming again to read more news.


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