We all need a healthy escape. A way to have fun, feel safe, and be at peace again. Michigan is blessed with beautiful Great Lakes shorelines, forested mountains, and pristine wilderness. So, depending on what you are looking for, Michigan can be one of the best places to visit in the United States.
Within this combination of natural phenomena are plenty of cool caves for experienced and inexperienced spelunkers, which offer great opportunities for making unforgettable memories in natural habitats.
Visiting a cave is one of the best ways to soothe an aching soul. This article examines the top 11 incredible caves you can explore in Michigan. It covers why you should visit each cave and what to expect there.
Millie Hill Bat Cave
Take some time to stop at Millie Hill Bat Cave if you find yourself in Iron Mountain. It’s a deserted vertical iron mine home to the largest population of hibernating and breeding bats.
The best time to visit this prime attraction is usually in April or September, during the migration of bats. Millie Hill Bat Cave is designated as an official Michigan Wildlife Viewing Area.
- Address: Iron Mountain, MI 49801, United States
- Website: Millie Mine Bat Cave | Michigan
- Phone number: +1 800-236-2447
- Entrance fee: Free or at a very small cost.
- Google Maps link: Millie Hill Bat Cave Rd
Spider Cave / Burnt Bluff Cave
Spider Cave, commonly known as Burnt Bluff Cave, is a stunning archaeological site near Fayette, Michigan. The cave contains four different pictographs on the walls near the entrance. The “spider-man” image is the most unique of the four. The image features a man connected to a spider by what seems to be a spiral umbilical cord. However, the pictographs aren’t as clear as they used to be due to the growing lichen and precipitated salts.
- Address: Fairbanks Township, MI 49835, United States
- Google Maps link: Burnt Bluff
Eben Ice Caves
Also known as the Rock River Canyon Ice Caves, the Eben Ice Caves is located near Eben junction. It’s one of the best places to visit during winter when melting snow runs and freezes over cliffs, creating amazing ice formations.
Ensure you have good footwear because you will likely slide over as you hike toward the ice caves. There are no safety lines or ropes anywhere along the route either.
- Address: Deerton, MI 49822, United States
- Website: Eben Ice Caves in Hiawatha National Forest
- Entrance fee: Free
- Google Maps link: Eben Ice Caves
Alger Underwater Preserve
Alger Underwater Preserve is one of the unique places in Michigan. It’s home to some of the strangest sea caves formed several years ago by wave action hollowing out the sandstone cliffs underwater.
At a water level of about 10 feet deep, the hollowed-out caves are perfect for snorkeling and underwater photography.
The place is also popular for scuba diving, where divers can see intact shipwrecks beside sea caves. Many shipwrecks lie within recreational diving limits. Visitors may also hike and backpack around Rocks National Lakeshore.
- Address: Munising, MI 49862, United States
- Website: Alger Underwater Preserve
- Phone number: +1 231-818-8159
- Entrance fee: Approximately $100 per diver
- Google Maps link: Munising
Grand Island Ice Caves
Located on Lake Superior, Grand Island is home to some of the most incredible ice caves and formations in the United States. Catch a good sight of the ice on the Grand Island cliffs from the Sand Point Beaches.
It’s impossible to see the ice formations, especially along the Pictured Rocks cliffs above Lake Superior’s waters.
- Address: Munising, MI 49862, United States
- Google Maps link: Grand Island Ice Caves
Adventure Mine is an ideal place to visit if you have been looking forward to experiencing underground copper mining. It’s home to a remnant of Michigan’s former mining glory days. It’s located in Greenland, Michigan, and offers three unique tours: The Prospector’s, Miner’s, and Captain’s Tour.
All these tours take you to some of the mine’s largest cave rooms, where you will catch sight of the inner workings of multiple mine levels.
- Address: 200 Adventure Ave, Greenland, MI 49929, United States
- Website: Adventure Mining Company
- Phone number: +1 906-883-3371
- Entrance fee: : As follows:
- Prospector’s tour – $32 for adults, $16 for children between ages 6 and 12, and free for children under 5.
- Miner’s tour – $72 for adults.
- Captain’s tour – $145.
- Google Maps link: Adventure Mining Co
Skull Cave is among the top attractions at Mackinac Island. It’s a small and shallow cave with some great historical connections. It’s thought that the Native Americans once used the cave as a burial ground in the 18th century. Alexander Henry, a survivor of Fort Michilimackinac’s capture during the Pontiac’s War, also used the cave as a refuge in 1763.
- Address: Rifle Range Rd, Mackinac Island, MI 49757, United States
- Website: Skull Cave – Mackinac Island Tourism Bureau
- Phone number: +1 906-847-3783
- Entrance fee: : Free
- Google Maps link: Skull Cave
This a perfect spot for you if you are a wine enthusiast. Mine Vineyards is an excellent winery on the east side of the Mission Peninsula. It offers scenic views of the Grand Traverse Bay and the vineyards.
The place is popular for making exquisite estate wines. Ensure you explore the spectacular Tasting Room bar, Production Facility, and underground aging Wine Caves.
- Address: 8175 Center Rd, Traverse City, MI 49686, United States
- Website: Mari Vineyards
- Phone number: +1 231-938-6116
- Google Maps link: Mari Vineyards
Bear Cave is a naturally formed cave at Bear Cave RV Campground. It’s 4 to 6 feet wide, 15 feet deep, and 10 to 15 feet high. The winding stairway features stunning geological formations, including stalactites and other peculiar shapes. The metal oxides of native ores color the whole cave. The cave is open from May to October and can be entered via the gift shop.
- Address: 4085 Bear Cave Rd, Buchanan, MI 49107, United States
- Website: Bear Cave RV Campground | RV Resorts in Michigan
- Phone number: +1 269-695-3050
- Google Maps link: Bear Cave RV Campground
Hendrie River Water Cave
Hendrie River Water Cave is a 1,500-foot limestone cavern, making it one of the longest caves in Michigan. This spectacular cave system was formed years ago when acidic water from a swamp penetrated limestone cracks, dissolving and widening the cracks. The cave contains a stream running along its floors, which is why it’s called River Cave.
For a more challenging cave exploration, take the longer north passage. It becomes more challenging as you go through narrow, wet, winding pathways. The passages also get smaller and smaller and begin to get really noisy. This is where the adrenalin starts to kick in, but there is nothing to be afraid of. The end is more rewarding, though. You will finally see a breathtaking waterfall room and stream sumps if you are persistent enough.
- Website: Michigan Karst Conservancy
- Phone number: Martina Golden +1 248-666-1683 to apply for a permit.
- Google Maps link: Hendrie River
Pellerito Cave is a small gypsum solutional cave in the currently defunct Domtar Mine in southwest Grand Rapids. The cave was discovered during the mining operations. It’s named after its founder, Russell Pellerito, who discovered it during Domtar Mine’s operational years.
- Google Maps link: Domtar Mine
You’ll find a perfect cave to explore from the Alger Underwater Caves in the Upper Peninsula to the Bear Caves in southwest Michigan. While other caves were carved out many years ago by miners, some were naturally formed within the last few centuries, and a few are a fleeting seasonal attraction, but every single one of them is worth exploring.
Top image: David Marvin via Flickr / Creative Commons.