Oh, the multitudes of things to do in Door County! However, there’s one place that you need to see during your stay: Cave Point County Park. Whether you have only 30-minutes to check it out or a few hours dedicated to outdoor activities, I promise it will be worth your while!
Cave Point County Park
The bluest most tropical waters are right below your feet and only a few steps from the road at Cave Point County Park. Of all the gorgeous backdrops Door County waters provide, Cave Point is by far the most unusual and visually stunning. Located next to Whitefish Dunes State Park, this 19-acre county park’s main attraction is its limestone sea caves which are visible only from a kayak or when scuba diving. Land-dwellers can take a short walk on the lakeside trail to view various rock formations or scuttle down toward the water and get their feet wet (this is where Keens come in handy!). The park features a tranquil half-mile long hiking trail where a wide variety of birds and animals can be watched and enjoyed in their natural habitat.
A park sticker is not required for a visit to Cave Point, but if you extend your journey on this part of the peninsula to Whitefish Dunes State Park, a park sticker will be required at the entrance. Sticker information can be found at the Wisconsin State Park System website.
30-Second Geology Lesson
The reefs are made of Dolomitic limestone — a rocky shoreline formed during the Silurian period (440 to 410 million years ago). That pre-dates the dinosaurs, a fact I find incredibly fascinating given that my 11-year old son has discovered dozens of fossils older than dinosaurs. Below the water level are sea caves accessible only to scuba divers. During this time in geologic history, Wisconsin was located near the Earth’s equator! This may explain the beautiful tropical energy you will experience on your visit.
Caution must be used at Cave Point because of possible slip, trip and fall hazards. During the winter months, ice from the frozen spray of the turbulent Lake Michigan blankets everything, creating a surrealistic world of ice sculptures. If you visit in the winter, do not climb the cliffs and remain on the park trails. See safety recommendations at the end of this article.
And now, here are the Top Four Reasons You MUST-SEE Cave Point County Park in Door County!
1. SEE THE UNDERWATER CAVES
Photo by Cave Point Paddle and Pedal.
Kayak Around the Caves & Cliffs
Experienced kayakers enjoy this area of Door County. New or intermediate kayakers might consider going with a tour. There are several adventure companies that will lead you safely around these amazing cliffs. The tours are weather-dependent as the waves on Lake Michigan can be treacherous and quite dangerous at times. Novice kayakers are able to navigate the waters, even on windy days, but if you’re new, our advice is to kayak with a guide. It’s a worthwhile experience as the park has over a mile of shoreline to explore, a vantage point one cannot see from land. Often, one can see the underwater caves from their kayak.
2. CLIMB, JUMP or SWIM
Cliff Jumping at Cave Point. This activity is not monitored and is dependent upon the weather. Use extreme caution when jumping. Parental supervision is recommended.
Swimming and Cliff Jumping
In the past couple years the water level has been quite high in Lake Michigan allowing adventurous water-lovers an amazing thrill!
Important! Please read.
There is no lifeguard on duty. You will be jumping and entering the water at your own risk. As of the publication of this article, the water levels are high enough to allow room for folks to jump off the main area as seen in the photo above. However, the water levels in Lake Michigan change from year to year, and therefore we can not assume there is ample room to jump at the time you read this article. Please check the weather, your surroundings, and never ever swim at Cave Point alone.
Be Safe, Have Fun
OK now onto the fun part. Both my son and I have jumped in the focal point area of the park. It’s a blast and the water is quite warm. We always check the weather and water conditions and stay close to one another when jumping. My son is 11 and has jumped the past two summer as the water levels in the lake have increased. In the past one could walk on the rocks below, but now there is ample room for landing in the water.
Please stay close to your kiddos, no matter the age, and have a safety plan in place. We have a rope and lifejackets just in case, but then again, I’m overly cautious. I feel more at ease when there are other people around as well. I have great cell service but even at Cave Point, reception is limited. Just be careful. It is a ton of fun though, and I love watching my son and all the visitors having fun.
3. HIKE & EXPLORE
Hike Cave Point County Park
From the cliffs, the short trail goes northward through a forest and offers ample opportunities to find your way down to the beach. The dirt-packed trail is filled with tree roots and rocks, which can make it challenging to walk. There are also many fallen trees along the trail that can make for small adventures for young children. What kiddo doesn’t make use of a tree trunk to have sword battles and balance challenges with their mates? 😉
For a longer hike take the Black Trail which explores the hardwood forest away from the shore. The trail is a 3-mile loop and starts and ends at Whitefish Dunes State Park parking lot. It’s one of the best nature walks in Door County. To adventure this trail, you’ll need a park sticker.
Host a Special Event … or … Propose!
Last fall I was the lucky person walking by a cute couple at Cave Point near the gazebo. The guy asked if I wouldn’t mind taking a photo of him and his sweetheart under the gazebo. He quietly and nervously asked me to hold his phone a certain way and I noticed it was on VIDEO, not PHOTO. I said nothing still oblivious to what was about to happen. This was taking a bit of time and I didn’t mind — other than the fact I had a 10-year-old on the loose and the waves were 30 feet high that day! On days like that, no matter how old your children are, it’s best to keep an eye on them… but God had other things planned that day.
He Got Down on One Knee
I held the camera and watched as he got down on one knee. OMG! I was so excited and made myself keep quiet as his phone and I were recording the whole event. Suddenly I felt a huge responsibility for this memory. I couldn’t mess this up! I watched with tears as she said yes and they had the sweetest embrace I had ever witnessed. They were all smiles and before I knew it, it was over. He thanked me, she was excited and I was able to learn a bit about the two of them. They were the coolest couple — Pamela and Ray. 🙂
I was honored to be a part of their special moment and was excited to share the news with my son — who, by the way, was fine but completed soaked by the time I found him. (See the bottom of this post regarding safety at Cave Point — it’s not something to take lightly.)
Pamela and Ray made my day and after the shock wore off I realized I had no photos of the amazing couple. I ran back and found them, and thankfully they allowed me to photograph them and post their photo here.
Reserve the Gazebo
You can reserve the Gazebo at Cave Point for the day by visiting the Door County Parks System website and locating the reservation form.
Other facilities include picnic tables, cooking grills, fire rings, a well, toilets, parking space for twenty-five cars.
Giant waves crash upon the rock dousing visitors with cold Lake Michigan waters.
Word of Caution
Nature is powerful. Perched atop the food chain, we might feel strong enough to handle anything. But Mother Nature often begs to differ. Knowledge of the area, weather, terrain, limitations of your body, plus a little common sense can help to ensure a safe and enjoyable trip. The cliffs are dangerous, and entering the waters is at your own risk. There are no lifeguards on duty at Cave Point. People have fallen in all seasons. This area is nothing to be light about. Proceed with caution and swim and enter the waters at your own risk. Door County Mom does not endorse cliff jumping or other risk-taking adventures, even though we partake in a few of these adventures ourselves.
Basic Safety Tips
Here are a few basic safety tips for your visit to Cave Point, many are recommended by the US Forest Service:
- Visit with a companion, never alone
- Keep younger kids closeby
- Be in fair physical condition and or have a caretaker with you when you visit if you cannot safely walk along the rocks alone
- Think about your footing (many come here ill-prepared to climb the rocks and cliffs safely). Flip Flops are not going to cut it
- Wear appropriate clothing. The waves splash quite high and before you know it, you could be drenched!
- Be weather wise. Please do not go into the waters when the waves are too high
- Be alert for slippery areas
- Cliffs and alcohol do not mix
- Head out of the park before dark. Please don’t be in the water after sunset
- That great shot might impress your friends, but it’s not worth your life! Please be careful!
While Door County Mom strives to make the information on this website as timely and accurate as possible, we make no claims, promises, or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information provided, and expressly disclaim liability for errors and omissions in the contents of this site. Reference to jumping off the cliff and/or swimming at Cave Point is for the information and convenience of the public and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or favoring by Door County Mom or any of its writers.