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February 16, 2014 AT 10:48 AM
Crowds of people are flocking to northwestern Wisconsin to trek on a frozen-over Lake Superior to reach dramatic ice caves accessible on foot for the first time in several years, courtesy of the long frigid winter. It has been five years since the ice caves were last reachable in the winter, officials said. About 35,000 people have hiked the more than 1 mile route across the ice in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore since officials declared the ice a "low risk" on January 15, park spokeswoman Julie Van Stappen said. Still, the number of visitors was expected to surge over the three-day Presidents Day weekend, boosting tourist activity in such towns as Bayfield, about 18 miles west of the caves.