Ice shoves on Lake Erie at Crystal Beach — just wow.

One of the coolest things to happen in this region in a long time has cost us absolutely nothing. It’s a totally natural wonder, one I’d never seen until this past weekend. If you live here, you should definitely go see it while you can.

UPDATE 1: See the bottom of this post for directions on how to get there, and a map!

UPDATE 2: Ice caves were evacuated February 17, 2014 due to possible ice fractures. Please see this Erie Media write-up for more information.

UPDATE 3: Ice caves to be destroyed this week. No use going there anymore, people!

Lake Erie is nearly completely frozen over, something that hasn’t happened since 1996 — and before that, 1979. Interesting as that is, some very rare phenomena has taken place as a result of this winter’s brand of freezing, windy weather. When Miklos’s sister told us about the ice caves formed on the shores of the Great Lake as a result of the cold of this bizarre year, we had to check it out.

long view of Crystal Beach shove ice on Lake Erie 2014

Click for a closer look.

Miklos and shove ice at Crystal Beach on Lake Erie  2014 Inside an ice cave. Miklos and shove ice at Crystal Beach on Lake Erie 2014

Closer look at the ice caves. Miklos and shove ice at Crystal Beach on Lake Erie 2014

Click for a closer look at the ice surrounding this bearded man.

Closer look at the ice caves. Shove ice at Crystal Beach on Lake Erie 2014

Click for more detail.

Closer look at the ice caves. Nikki and shove ice at Crystal Beach on Lake Erie 2014

Click for a closer look at the ice surrounding me.

It’s called an ice shove. Essentially it’s created when just the right amount of wind, current, and cold come together, and it can pile layers of ice up to 40 feet high. The ice we saw was probably 12 to 20 feet in places, if measuring above the frozen lake’s water level anyway.

I’m really happy that we got a chance to see this in person. These photos are just of the caves. There are also bridges of ice and tunnels and more that we didn’t get pictures of (it was cold and there was a hole in my glove and I had to pee and I am full of excuses). We saw a story about this ice spectacle on the news and a couple who have lived at the beach for 40 years said that they’d never seen anything like it. I feel like we probably won’t again, either.

Another cool (heh) thing was that the lake is so covered in ice that we could see tiny moving dots in the distance — people walking out into the middle of the lake. An incredible thing to see in person, and my pictures do it no justice.

You can kind of see what I mean about the dots in this discombobulated video I took where I was basically just trying to bug Miklos by being in his face. The dots in the distance are people in the middle of the lake:

If you live anywhere near Crystal Beach on Lake Erie, get out there soon and check out this wonderful ice anomaly before it disappears forever. And wear your best winter boots… it’s slippery!

Directions (See map below):

  1. Take Highway 3
  2. Turn South on to Gorham Road
  3. Follow straight to end of the road
  4. You’re there!

You will see a parking lot that may be full of cars (judging from what I’ve been told in the past week). If parking lot is full, there should be available street parking nearby. See enlargeable Google map below.

ice shoves caves crystal beach map - how to get there

Click for larger image!

Have you been to the ice caves yet? Let me know how your experience went in the comments!


About Nikki

I've been writing since I was in kindergarten where I Crayola-markered an epic tale of a tiger and a balloon on a stack of lined papers folded into a booklet and stapled along the edge (carefully, and by my teacher). I love DIY, sewing, folksy music, animals and getting out to look at and listen to nature.
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  1. Pingback: Directions & map to the ice caves at Crystal Beach added! |

  2. Pingback: Ice shoves no longer -- caves being destroyed some time this week |

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