Ice caves popularity overwhelms park staff

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BAYFIELD, Wis. (AP) -- The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore has turned to other agencies for help in handling the thousands of people visiting the area to see the majestic beauty of ice caves along the south shore of Lake Superior.

Even on Monday, the ice caves drew 1,800 people throughout the day. It's been five years since the ice has been thick enough for hikers to safely reach the caves.

Chief ranger Chris Smith tells Minnesota Public Radio News this past Saturday was the busiest yet this winter with 11,000 people making the trek to the caves. Smith says five other national parks have sent staff to help, along with local sheriff's offices, the U.S. Coast Guard and Border Patrol.

An Incident Command Center has been set up in a small trailer at the trailhead.

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