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15 AWESOME Caves in Michigan You Won’t Want to Miss Exploring

When you think of Michigan’s natural beauty, you may picture the Great Lakes, pristine beaches, and lush, green forests. Michigan is home to all of those things and more to make you shake your head in amazement. Believe it or not, Michigan is also home to many unique caves that are always fun to explore. 

Many of the caves in Michigan are man-made and hearken back to the state’s mining history. Many others, however, have developed naturally from the dissolution of dolomite, gypsum, or limestone bedrock along cracks and faults.

So, if you’re up for some exploring, grab your gear, and check out these caves in Michigan!

Adventure Mine-Greenland
Adventure Mine | photo via beforethedawn91

Adventure Mine | Greenland

In the Western Upper Peninsula, Greenland is home to a remnant of Michigan’s former mining glory days. There are many copper mines throughout the Upper Peninsula, and some are still active.

Adventure Mine is one of the state’s best-preserved mines and features seasonal tours, so visitors can experience underground mining as it was in the 1800s. One of the most unique things the Adventure Mining Company offers is three different tours:

  • The Prospector’s Tour takes visitors on a 1.5-hour journey through some of the mine’s largest cave rooms.
  • The Miner’s Tour lasts three hours and offers a chance to replicate miner movements — rappelling 80 feet, crawling through small spaces, and hiking some of the oldest parts of the mine.
  • The Captain’s Tour lasts five to six hours and takes visitors to areas not seen anywhere else in the mine. You’ll see the inner workings of multiple mine levels and finish things off with a pasty lunch in the mine.

Millie Hill Bat Cave | Iron Mountain

You won’t become a seasoned crimefighter if you visit this Upper Peninsula spot near Iron Mountain, but you’ll see a cave full of bats, as the name implies. This abandoned iron mine is designated as a Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area and is one of the biggest hibernating and breeding bat colonies in North America, with upward of 1 million bats.

The best time to visit the Millie Hill Bat Cave is between April and September. And if you come at just the right time (usually at dusk), you’ll be treated to the sight of a massive display of bats in flight. Also, visitors can enjoy a self-guided interpretive program at the site to learn more about bats.

NOTE: The entrance to the mine shaft (er, bat cave) is covered with a grate that allows bats to come and go and prevents visitors from falling in.

Hendrie River Water Cave | Eastern UP

Nestled away in the eastern Upper Peninsula is the Hendrie River Water Cave, which is part of the Filborn Karst Preserve.

This cave is Michigan’s largest and is more than 2,000 feet long. It features more than 1,400 feet of a mostly high, narrow passage with a stream running along its floor. The cave is estimated to be between 7,000 and 10,000 years old — considered young by cave standards.

The stream running through the cave pumps into a circular passage called the Great Loop near the “end” of the cave before reemerging in a spring about 1 mile away. Two species of bats frequently use the cave for swarming and hibernation.

Fiborn Quarry &Amp; Fiborn Karst Preserve
Fiborn Quarry | photo via mollyinmichigan

Quarry & Cave Tours

The preserve was once the site of a limestone quarry from 1905-36 that supplied material to Algoma Steel in Sault Ste. Marie Canada. Several remnants of the quarry can still be seen today.

The Michigan Karst Conservancy offers guided tours of both the quarry and the water cave. Visitors wishing to enter the cave must receive advance written permission and have the proper equipment (extra clothing, three sources of light, sturdy footwear, and a helmet).

Additionally, the preserve features two self-guided trails — The Sinkhole Trail and the Barbara Ann Patrie — where visitors can explore both natural and historical features.

Spider Cave/Burnt Bluff Cave | Fayette

Just a few miles south of Fayette Historic State Park, Spider Cave is one of the most unique caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This cave is no longer open to the public but still filled with intrigue.

Spider Cave is the site of four pictographs or cave drawings. Arguably, the most famous of these drawings is a spider-man — a man connected to a spider by what appears to be an umbilical cord. The spider-man’s colors are a mixture of mineral dyes and grease with colors ranging from red-violet to blue-violet.

Over time, the pictographs have faded due to water erosion, natural wind, and tourist interference — so much so that, as of 2009, only two of the spider-man’s legs were visible.

FUN FACT: The Spider Cave pictographs were advertised as a tourist attraction by Ruth and Henry Lang, who bought the land in 1947. In the 1970s, the State of Michigan purchased the area around Burnt Bluff, which is now part of Fayette Historic State Park.

Eben Ice Caves-Eben Junction
Eben Ice Caves | photo via the.average.wanderer

Eben Ice Caves | Eben Junction

If you really love Michigan winters, you absolutely must travel to Eben Junction, just outside of Marquette. The Rock River Canyon Ice Caves form when melting snow runs over a small cliff edge and freezes, allowing daring visitors to climb on and even walk through the ice as they explore.

The Eben Ice Caves are a winter adventure to take, and they start freezing in December. If you plan on visiting, be ready for the hike, and wear ice cleats if possible, especially after a big storm. The cleats let you walk around inside caves with relatively sure footing and will keep you from sliding.

Alger Underwater Preserve, Munising - Caves
Alger Underwater Preserve | photo via @aubrey.the.explorer

Alger Underwater Preserve | Munising

Perhaps some of the strangest caves in Michigan are those at Alger Underwater Preserve in Munising. These sea caves were formed by centuries of waves pounding against sandstone cliffs. The hollowed-out caves go about 10 feet underwater. If you’re a fan of snorkeling, this is an impressive opportunity.

The Alger Underwater Preserve was actually the first preserve established in Michigan and is one of the most popular scuba diving areas in the Great Lakes. You see not only sea caves but also intact shipwrecks.

It’s also one of the safest places to dive because many of the wreck sites and caves are protected from waves and winds by Grand Island. Visibility is also usually very good.

Grand Island Ice Caves-Munising
Grand Island Ice Caves | photo via mikeconnick

Grand Island Ice Caves | Munising

The Grand Island Ice Caves near Munising are a sight to behold. Water pouring out of sandstone cliffs freezes into magnificent ice columns that can take on shades of green, blue, and yellow. The ice starts to form by mid-December and remains there until early April.

Although ice forms frequently along the Pictured Rocks cliffs above Lake Superior’s waters, these locations are difficult to see. From the Sand Point beaches, you can see ice on the Grand Island cliffs.

Some of the ice formations can also be seen along the North Country Trail. Visitors can snowshoe or hike from the Munising Falls parking lot toward Sand Point to see the ice from the top rather than from the base.

SAFETY NOTE: Due to undetermined ice thickness, thin and moving ice, concealed underwater currents, and open water, walking on Lake Superior or across Munising Bay is not recommended.

Lake Superior Cave Tours offers seasonal tours to the east and west sides of Grand Island, and full-day and half-day guided tours are available upon request.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore-Munising
Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | photo via hannahsph0t0diary

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore | Munising

The Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is an Upper Peninsula gem that gets more than 800,000 visitors annually and offers plenty to see in the way of forest and lakeshore. But if you’re a kayaker or go on a kayak tour, you can have a completely different experience.

While kayaking Pictured Rocks, you’ll find numerous caves to enter while still in your kayak, making you appreciate the natural formations even more. Along the 15-mile lakeshore, several picturesque sea caves have formed from years of weathering of the limestone cliffs.

On paddle and hike tours, you might see Rainbow Cave and Miners Castle, where the water flows between sections of sea caves under this formation. If you visit the park during the winter, you can also visit several frozen waterfalls.

Skull Cave-Mackinac Island
Skull Cave | photo via yupyesoksure

Skull Cave | Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is renowned for its Michigan fudge and many attractions, but it’s also home to Skull Cave. It’s small and shallow and is thought to have been carved by the waters of Lake Algonquin, a precursor to Lake Huron.

The cave continues to be of interest because of its historical connections. It is believed to have been used by Native Americans as an inhumation site. Furthermore, fur trader Alexander Henry is said to have taken refuge here during Fort Michilimackinac’s capture during Pontiac’s War in 1763.

Skull Cave is within the borders of Mackinac Island State Park and can be found about a half mile north of Fort Mackinac, which was designated as a Michigan Historic Site in 1959.

Devil's Kitchen-Mackinac Island
Devil’s Kitchen | photo via _kellybird_

Devil’s Kitchen | Mackinac Island

According to legend, the evil spirits who live in this cave on the southwestern edge of Mackinac Island will eat people who get too close. Fortunately, Devil’s Kitchen is easily accessible on foot or by bike because it sits right on M-185.

The entrance to the cave is thought to resemble a human face with its mouth open, and the cave itself is blackened with soot. The color is said to have come from the cooking fires of the evil spirits, giving the cave its ominous name. The origin of those stories, however, is unknown.

Eagle Point Cave-Mackinac Island
Eagle Point Cave | photo via mackinac_parks

Eagle Point Cave | Mackinac Island

Natural wonders like Devil’s Kitchen, Arch Rock, and Sugar Loaf make Mackinac Island a scenic destination. For the most ardent cave enthusiast, Eagle Point Cave is a cool site to see too.

It sits on the north side of the island just a few miles out of downtown and off of the island’s longest trail. The cave makes for a quick photo op but is collapsed and unable to be explored.

Mari Vineyards-Traverse City
Mari Vineyards | photo via tylertaylored

Mari Vineyards | Traverse City

There are many kinds of caves in Michigan, and one of the most unique is undoubtedly the Mari Vineyards wine caves in Northwest Michigan’s Traverse City.

Natural caves have been used to store and age wine for thousands of years, and Mari Vineyards follows those traditions with 8,000 square feet of caves. The caves span between 17 and 35 feet underground and took almost seven months to complete.

If you’re a wine enthusiast, this is a spot you must visit. The underground placement maintains a comfortable temperature between 55 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit — perfect for wine barrels to age wine.

Visitors must book a seasonal tour in advance and will be able to see the production area and barrel-aging process up close. Some drop-in tour slots are available each day, but visitors must notify staff at least 30 minutes in advance.

Pellerito Cave | Walker

Pellerito Cave is a small gypsum solutional cave that’s part of the defunct Domtar Mine in southern Grand Rapids. Solutional caves form when acidic water dissolves solid rock and are what most people picture when they think of caves.

FUN FACT: The cave is named after Russell Pellerito, who discovered it during mining operations.

The Grand Rapids Gypsum Company was incorporated in 1860 to mine gypsum, though the mines making up the Domtar Mine are older than that. The mine entrances were found north and south of Butterworth Drive.

Bear Cave-Buchanan
Bear Cave | photo via swmichigan

Bear Cave | Buchanan

Located deep in Southwest Michigan, Bear Cave is a treat for all who visit. It was formed from “tufa rock,” also known as sedimentary limestone.

From May to October, visitors can traverse the cave, entering the cave through the gift shop after walking down a 40-foot, winding staircase. Colored in metal oxides, the cave is 15 feet deep, 4 to 6 feet wide, and 10 to 15 feet high. Visitors can see stalactites, petrified leaves, and other interesting shapes.

Additionally, Bear Cave holds a bit of significant history. During the 1800s, it played a crucial role in the Underground Railroad. Later, in 1875, loot from an Ohio bank robbery was stashed in the cave. That incident was the inspiration for “The Great Train Robbery,” a 1903 silent film.

Doty Cave-Hillsdale County
Doty Cave | photo via puremichigandog

Doty Cave | Hillsdale County

Doty’s Cave near Pittsford is named for infamous criminal Sile Doty and is said to be where he hid stolen horses. Doty’s ghost is said to haunt the cave, and if visitors see it, they will see Doty smiling.

According to a Michigan Department of Natural Resources inventory, the cave has three entrances and two distinct caverns. The back of the cave features a dome that hangs too low for the average person to stand up. In the winter, ice forms in the entrances and branches into the gravel covering the cave floor.

Doty Cave can also be accessed via the North County Trail. An almost 3-mile, out-and-back trail near Pittsford follows the NCT for roughly 1 mile before branching off on a steep trail toward the cave. Travelers are advised to be careful because the steep trail can be icy, slippery, or muddy depending on the time of year.

Mother And Son Pose In Front Of Limestone Cave Opening
Limestone Caves at Fayette State Park

Frequently Asked Questions About Caves in Michigan

Are there any caves to explore in Michigan?

Yes. Michigan has many types of caves, including sea caves, man-made caves from former mines in the Upper Peninsula, and natural caves formed from rock weathering over many years.

In the summertime, you can kayak along Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to check out the sea caves. In the winter, you can go to the Upper Peninsula to check out the ice caves.

If you’re in the Lower Peninsula, you can travel to Traverse City to see unique wine caves. Or, check out Skull Cave on Mackinac Island.

NOTE: Not all Michigan caves are open to the public, so please verify that you’re welcome on any property and follow any rules before exploring caves in Michigan.

How do I explore Michigan’s caves?

Michigan has numerous unique caves to explore, but before you head out, it’s important to know what to expect and how to stay safe. Caves can have different types of terrain, conditions, and temperatures, so do some homework before exploring them.

Before you go, make sure to tell people where you are going, mark your route, wear plenty of layers, have multiple sources of light, respect any wildlife you find, and learn some basics of cave exploration.

How can I visit Michigan caves?

Caves in Michigan can be explored in a variety of ways. Adventure Mine, for instance, can be explored by mine tours. Others can be explored on scenic hikes, scuba dives, or guided tours.

Are there caves in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?

There are several caves in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Some of the most famous are the sea caves along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore near Munising, Spider Cave in Fayette, the Alger Underwater Preserve near Munising, and the Millie Hill Bat Cave near Iron Mountain.

In the wintertime, you can check out the ice caves near Eben Junction and the Grand Island Ice Caves.

Where are the sea caves in Michigan?

Some of the most colorful and unique sea caves can be found around the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Also, you can check out the Alger Underwater Preserve near Munising to go snorkeling into a 10-foot cave.

Can you visit the Eben Ice Caves in Michigan in the summer?

You can visit the Eben Ice Caves during summer, but you would see no ice and little to no water running over the cliff edge. It’s best to wait until the cold winter months because that’s the only time the ice formations develop.

Where are the Grand Island Ice Caves in Michigan?

The Grand Island Ice Caves are located in Munising, not far from the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Access requires walking across more than a half-mile of frozen Lake Superior and is not recommended due to ice safety precautions.

Can you visit caves in Michigan in winter?

Some of the caves mentioned above may be open to visitors in winter months, however, it is always best to verify with the property before planning a visit.

What is white-nose syndrome in the caves in Michigan?

White-nose syndrome is a fungus that affects hibernating bats. When visiting caves in Michigan, please consider the native inhabitants, and use proper precautions to avoid the spread of this fungus.

Grand Island Ice Caves, Munising - Caves
Grand Island Ice Caves | photo via Tim Trombley

Explore the Wonders of Michigan Caves

From sea caves and gypsum mines to former copper mines and spooky caves on Mackinac Island, Michigan caves are unique and fun to explore.

While not all caves in Michigan are open to the public, their locations and uniqueness allow cave enthusiasts to explore their areas throughout the year. Ice formations at places like the Eben Junction and Grand Island make those ice caves fun destinations. Other spots like Doty Cave and the Millie Hill Bat Cave are best enjoyed during the warmer months.

So, dress warm, stay safe, and make plans to explore the wonders of the many caves in Michigan. Whether you’re an experienced explorer or you’re just curious, time spent exploring a cave makes for a memorable Michigan adventure.