Outdoor Activity: Exploring the Lake Michigan Ice Balls


February 3, 2021

This past week while Otto and I were cooped up in quarantine we decided to take a drive to check out the lake Michigan ice balls. I had seen the article on the news about them starting to form and thought.. what else are we going to do today? The sun was out and it wasn’t as cold as it had been earlier in the week so we bundled up and took a drive.

The snow and sand were frozen solid as we crunched our way down to the lake. Otto and his mismatched mittens hobbled along as we inched our way down to the lakes edge. There were a few people out looking too but everyone just kept their distance and took in the sunshine reflecting off the lake.

There were just a few ice balls starting to form but enough to satisfy our curiosity.

What are ice balls? 

Ice balls form each year in the lake when snow and chunks of ice break away and slowly get splashed over by the waves freezing as each layer is recovered and tossed about. It’s like when you roll a snowman and as you roll the snow packs on and builds into a ball. Lake Michigan does this with waves and frigid temperatures.

When do ice balls form?
Ice balls form in lake Michigan every year when the temperatures are below freezing for a consistent amount of time. This coming week should be a great opportunity to see them

Frozen Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan in the winter is a quiet and peaceful place to visit. The world is just still and you can walk quite a ways without bumping into another person. If it were not for quarantine we probably wouldn’t have taken the time for a slow afternoon looking for ice balls.

We stood throwing ice chunks into the lake for about an hour before heading back to our car as the sun was starting to set. Here in Michigan, sunsets are theater. Any time of year you’ll see people out on the beach or sitting in their cars facing the water watching the sun slowly sink into the lake closing out the day. Snow or sun everyone applauses when the final tip top of the blazing start falls into the water, after that cars slowly parade back out of the park and home again.

Otto and I picked up a pizza before heading home to warm up by the fire and watch boss baby. We hope to go on another adventure to the lake again as a family before things start to warm up again.

Have you seen the lake Michigan ice balls? If you are looking for relaxing but cold outdoor activity this winter I highly suggest taking a drive out to the lake and checking them out.

Frozen Lake Michigan Holland State Park Toddler looking over the ice balls of lake michigan Ice balls forming in lake Michigan Fun things to do during quarantine outside Fun things to do during quarantine outside Michigan Fun things to do during quarantine outside Michigan with Toddlers

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  1. Darleene Moore says:

    I love anything about lakes and oceans. You re so blessed to be able to enjoy what God has given to you. Beautiful pictures of your little son and his mama.

  2. Margaret says:

    Wow…I’ve lived within blocks of Lake Michigan all my life and never heard of ice balls. Never to old to learn something new! Thanks for sharing.

  3. Leslie says:

    Yes! My niece in Traverse City has sent me pics of them before. Crazy looking!!

Abigail Albers       Author

Abby is a wife and mother, antique shopper, entrepreneur, gardener, sheep lady, sequin enthusiast and your Midwest Martha Stewart Wannabe.. Follow her on instagram @adventuresinabbyland.

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