Cave Point County Park is a geological wonder. Every trip to Door County should include a visit to this free attraction. Here is everything you need to know for a successful visit to Cave Point County Park.
Have you visited Cave Point County Park? What did you think? Or, do you need more information? Talk to us in the comments section at the end of the post.
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Here is what we’ll cover in this post:
- What makes Cave Point County Park a Natural Wonder
- Things To Do At Cave Point County Park
- Geology of Cave Point County Park
- History of Cave Point County Park
- General Information of Cave Point County Park
- Door County Day Trips, a great option to see Cave Point County Park and other must-see attractions in Door County
- Lodging Near Cave Point County Park
- Restaurants Near Cave Point County Park
- More Door County Parks
What Makes Cave Point County Park A Natural Wonder
Visitors to Cave Point County Park encounter a dramatic land- and water-scape where forces of nature collide. Water smashes into stone. The present encounters the prehistoric past. Land gives way to an inland freshwater sea as cliffs drop off into Lake Michigan.
At Cave Point County Park, you are greeted by gorgeous views, impressive cliffs, ancient stones, massive waves, and fun experiences.
Cave Point County Park sits on a cliff edge about thirty feet above Lake Michigan in Door County. Over time, the waves of Lake Michigan have eroded the stone of the cliffs, forming sea caves at the water level. These can be seen from various vantage points in the park.
The erosion of these cliffs has also formed a rock shelf that extends just below the surface of Lake Michigan. This shelf means that the waves of Lake Michigan get amplified here. Waves that are normally only a few feet high can extend as high as thirty feet into the air, soaking observers near “blowholes” in the cliffs.
The most popular formation at Cave Point is “Devil’s Cauldron,” a large bowl-shaped cave near the parking lot of the park. Observers flock around this to see the waves crashing into and shooting upward from this unique geological feature.
Things To Do at Cave Point County Park
There are many great things to do at Cave Point County Park in Door County. Here are a few:
One of the most popular activities at Cave Point County Park is kayaking. These allow you to get up close to the sea caves. Under certain water conditions, kayakers can even paddle into a sea cave!
Experienced, well-outfitted kayakers can launch from nearby Schauer Park to the north or Whitefish Dunes State Park and Whitefish Bay Town Park to the south. Launching kayaks from Cave Point County Park is not advisable.
Those with less kayaking experience or lacking suitable watercraft should opt for a commercial kayak tour. Several commercial operators offer kayak tours of Cave Point County Park.
Cave Point County Park is a great place to get photographs, whether you are a professional photographer or an aspiring (or actual!) Instagram influencer. The waves, cliffs, caves, and plant and animal life make for great photographic material.
Cave Point County Park is an especially productive area for drone photography. The dramatic landscape and inaccessibility of many spots make this an ideal place to get shots via drone.
Scuba and Free Diving / Snorkeling
Experienced divers are known to explore the underwater formations at Cave Point County Park. Bring your cold water gear if you do!
Cave Point County Park is one of the best places in Door County to catch a sunrise. Early birds will be treated to seeing the sunrise from the waters of Lake Michigan.
The stones that comprise the cliffs of Cave Point County Park are especially productive for finding fossils of prehistoric corals and brachiopods. Document your finds through photographs, drawings, and written records, but leave the stones at the park. Removing them is against the law!
Picnic tables and grills are available at Cave Point County Park. This is a great place to enjoy an outdoor meal!
Events and Weddings
Cave Point County Park is a popular place to hold weddings and other events. The on-site pavilion and dramatic setting make this a memorable place for events such as these.
Hiking at Cave Point County Park
An unmarked, undeveloped trail goes along the cliff edge at Cave Point County Park, and it is worth traversing it. Incredible views and fantastic photographic opportunities await you here!
In addition, a developed trail crosses through Cave Point County Park and into Whitefish Dunes State Park. This is called the “Black Trail.” Even though this trail goes into the state park, you do not need to purchase admission. Admission fees to state parks are only required if you drive in. Hikers can walk in for free.
Find Endangered Species
Door County is one of the few places in the world to find an endangered species of the dragonfly: the Hine’s Emerald Dragonfly. Their flight period is during July. Hike the trails around Cave Point County Park and keep a sharp lookout. Perhaps you’ll come across one of the rarest animals in the United States. (Source: Hine’s Emerald by WI DNR.)
Winter is a great time to visit Cave Point County Park! Waves and mist from Lake Michigan coat the cliffs and the trees to form an enchanting vision.
Be careful when you visit, however! You don’t want to lose your footing here.
Cross-country skiing or snowshoeing is possible on the trails at the park, but they are ungroomed.
Engaging All Your Senses
Visiting Cave Point County Park is a multi-sensory experience. It is best experienced using all your senses.
One of your first senses to be engaged when you come to Cave Point County Park is your hearing. Under many circumstances, when you begin to approach the cliffs, you will hear waves crashing, but with an airy final thudding sound. That is the sound of air being trapped and compressed as the wave rises into air pockets in the caves carved into the cliffs. It’s unlike any other sound you will hear elsewhere.
Engage your sense of touch at Cave Point County Park in multiple ways. If you sit at the very tip of one of the wings at Devil’s Cauldron, you can feel the waves hitting the cliffs underneath you as they shake the bedrock.
Speaking of the rock, make sure to run your hand over it. This is some of the oldest material you will ever feel, formed during the Silurian period from sea sediments.
The air even smells different here. The unique foliage combined with the fresh air of Lake Michigan brings welcome aromas to the nose.
And of course, engaging the sense of sight is a given at Cave Point County Park. From the beautiful horizon of Lake Michigan to the gorgeous trees, to the amazing caves in the cliffs, to the amazing waves, Cave Point County Park delights the eyes.
Geology of Cave Point County Park
Cave Point County Park’s signature landscape came about through complicated geological forces over great periods of time.
The majority of stones at Cave Point County Park are made of “Cordell Dolostone” (Source: Field Trip Guidebook, p. 4) These rocks were initially formed from the sediments of plant and animal life in a shallow, salt-water sea. This is why saltwater marine fossils can be found here like corals and brachiopods.
The limestone that formed from these sediments then was transformed through an interaction with the saltwater to form dolostone. (“Wisconsin’s Niagara Escarpment,” pp. 7 and 12.) This Silurian dolostone is what comprises the Niagara Escarpment, a bedrock outcropping extending in an arc from Wisconsin’s Door County north and east to Niagara Falls, the namesake of the escarpment.
Due to its hardness, the Silurian dolostone of the Niagara Escarpment resisted somewhat the glaciers of the Wisconsin Glaciation, which dug deep trenches on either side of what is now the Door Peninsula, forming Green Bay and Lake Michigan (Wisconsin’s Niagara Escarpment, p. 23 ff). In more recent times, the waves of Lake Michigan have cut away at this dolostone at Cave Point County Park.
The land for Cave Point County Park was gifted to the county by three families from 1943 through 1945. Initially, some debate existed as to the purpose of this park. Some proposed that it ought to be used as a war memorial. Others thought that it should be turned into a state park. Finally, it was decided to keep it as a county park and to let the focus be on the unique geography of this fascinating place.
It is free to visit Cave Point County Park.
Cave Point County Park Hours
Door County public parks are open one-half hour before sunrise to 11:00 PM unless otherwise posted.
5360 Schauer Rd, Sturgeon Bay, WI 54235
There are restrooms on sight at Cave Point County Park.
Cave Point County Park has multiple picnic tables.
Public grills are available at Cave Point County Park.
There are two lots on sight to park at Cave Point County Park. If you are planning to visit the park on a nice day during prime tourist season, you would be well-advised to arrive early. Nearly half a million people visit the park every year, and parking can become sparse.
One way to get around the parking issues at Cave Point County Park is to utilize the services of Door County Day Trips. This service will pick you up from a designated meeting point or even at your hotel. Their luxury van will take you to Cave Point County Park and to fifteen other popular locations in Door County including the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal Pierhead Light, Ellison Bluff, and Peninsula State Park.
Traffic and parking problems have been getting progressively worse in Door County during prime tourist season. This is a great way to see Door County’s most popular sights in comfort and without the trouble of finding your way around the peninsula’s winding roads or getting parking in the frequently crowded lots.
They even provide a lunch!
Lodging Near Cave Point County Park – Hotels, Motels, and Resorts
Lodging in Door County fills up quickly. Some of the most popular properties are booked up a year in advance. If you would like to experience Cave Point County park and all the other amazing activities in Door County, you should not hesitate to book your lodging now.
Many properties have generous cancellation policies, so you have nothing to lose by booking. On the other hand, waiting to book means that you may have to choose a less desirable property or forego staying in Door County altogether.
Hello Door County recommends the following three lodging options near Cave Point County Park:
Westwood Shores Waterfront Resort has been designed so that every suite has a view of the water. Guests can choose between one- and two-bedroom suites, all of which have private bedrooms and kitchens with full-sized appliances. Amenities included heated outdoor and indoor pools, a sauna, a hot tub, and complimentary use of paddleboats and rowboats.
Westwood Shores Waterfront Resort is a great place to catch sunsets, and because of this, it is an especially romantic place to stay. Couples love it.
This property is 13 miles from Cave Point County Park.
Gordon Lodge is a 130-acre retreat on North Bay, a small body of water off of Lake Michigan. The large estate has hiking trails and a half mile of shoreline. Guests especially like the private sandy beach, heated outdoor swimming pool, hot tub, and complimentary equipment rentals including kayaks, paddleboards, fishing equipment, and bicycles.
Gordon Lodge is 17 miles from Cave Point County Park.
Gordon Lodge is also quite near the scenic and popular Cana Island Lighthouse.
Right on the shores of Lake Michigan in Baileys Harbor, the Square Rigger Harbor Motel offers lodging for guests 12 years old and up. Amenities include lake views, a private Lake Michigan beachfront, an outdoor fireplace, BBQ, and walkable access to Baileys Harbor businesses, one of the fastest-growing villages in Door County.
Guests comment on the Square Rigger’s cleanliness, proximity to other Baileys Harbor businesses, and peacefulness.
The Square Rigger Harbor Motel is 11 miles from Cave Point County Park.
Restaurants Near Cave Point County Park
Here are some restaurants near Cave Point County Park worth visiting:
Donny’s Glidden Lodge
With a dramatic setting right on the shores of Lake Michigan, Donny’s Glidden Lodge Restaurant offers an unforgettable dining experience. The building and grounds of this classic Door County supper club are timeless and classy. It seems that not much has changed over the decades at this supper club, and that’s a good thing. Just like Lake Michigan itself, it seems that Donny’s Glidden Lodge has always been there and that it will be the same the next time you come, whether that’s in a month or a decade.
People tend to dress a little nicer at Donny’s Glidden Lodge, and given its location next to the Glidden Lodge Beach Resort, it caters to many out-of-towners.
Hello Door County named Donny’s Glidden Lodge the best Door County restaurant to celebrate an anniversary in our post The Best Door County Restaurants for Every Occasion.
The Hitching Post Bar & Grill
A cool, rustic interior, outdoor dining, and frequent live music make The Hitching Post a fun place to eat. The Hitching Post offers standard American pub fare.
Patrons appreciate the fast service and fun atmosphere at The Hitching Post.
A traditional Wisconsin bar and grill, the Peninsula Pub is renowned for serving well-prepared pub food. Friday fish fries and Saturday prime rib nights have earned this Jacksonport restaurant a regular following.
Peninsula Pub has outdoor seating and a low-key, sports bar-style dining room.
Coyote Roadhouse is one of Door County’s best-kept secrets. Far from the bustle of the tourist hubs, this laid-back restaurant overlooking Kangaroo Lake, near Jacksonport, offers hand-crafted and a wide selection of beers.
Outdoor seating tantalizes diners in the summer months, and the classic bar and grill interior is a comfortable place to take in a meal and spend some time lingering throughout the year.
More Door County Parks
Cave Point County Park is the greatest example of a principle that should guide every visitor to Door County: In order to fully experience the natural beauty of Door County, it is necessary to go beyond visiting the State Parks.
Door County’s state parks are legendary, and they are gems. But, some of the county’s most awe-inspiring natural settings can be found at other types of properties. Check out our comprehensive post on Door County Parks, Preserves, and Access Points to learn more about all the natural beauty Door County has to offer.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit Door County’s state parks. Our comprehensive post on Door County’s state parks can be your starting point to exploring these wonderful locations.
There is no admission fee for Cave Point County Park. Door Count parks are free to visit. However, a fee is required to enter nearby Whitefish Dunes State Park.
Dogs are permitted at Cave Point County Park. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
Swimming at Cave Point County Park is permitted, though caution should be exercised. No law or ordinance prohibits swimming at Cave Point, and many people do swim here. However, many factors make swimming here inadvisable, including strong wave action, currents, and often cold water.
Hello Door County advises against swimming at Cave Point County Park.
Cliff jumping is not prohibited at Cave Point County Park, but it is highly inadvisable, and authorities discourage this practice. Some people are injured cliff jumping here, and the water is not particularly deep and in some places quite shallow.
Hello Door County advises against cliff jumping at Cave Point County Park.
The walk to Devil’s Cauldron and some other overlooks is quite short, only a few hundred feet. However, hiking for many miles is possible on the black trail of Whitefish Dunes State Park, which passes through Cave Point County Park.
Camping is not permitted in Cave Point County Park. However, there are many private and state-run campgrounds in the area.
Check out our comprehensive post on Door County camping to find a suitable campground for your party.
Whether this is your first time visiting Cave Point County Park or your 101st, we are certain that you will find your trip there an enchanting experience.