Cave Point County Park

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Cave Point County Park is a 19 acre park located off of Lake Michigan near Jacksonport, Door County and sits adjacent to Whitefish Bay Dunes States Park.[1] Cave Point is famous for its spectacular rock formations, such as a shelf of dense dolomite extending a quarter of a mile offshore beneath the water's surface. Other formations include underground caves and large bluffs that endure waves up to thirty feet in height battering the rocky surface to silt.[2]

Cave Point County Park Map.gif



In 1943 Cave Point County Park became the fifth county park to be established in Door County, Wisconsin by the Door County Park Board. The first being the land now known as Tornado Memorial was established in 1927.[3] Facilities placed in the park since its establishment include cooking grills, picnic tables, fire rings, toilets, a well, parking spaces, 900 feet of shoreline, and a half a mile of trails. These trails link up with several miles of trails in the adjacent Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park. Additional improvements to the park include the road through the park being blacktopped and the shore and circle trails being graveled in 1997. In 2002 solar powered lighting was installed along with replacements for restrooms. Then in 2003 a historical sign describing the formation of Cave Point was installed. Finally, within the last few years a gazebo was installed on the south lawn.[4]


Original Purpose

In 1992 the Parks and Recreation Federation of Ontario stated that the benefits of having park land and open space include: physical and psychological needs, protection of natural resources, and economic growth.[5] These benefits are most likely why county parks like Cave Point were originally established. These areas provide much need space to enjoy nature away from man made structures, while also providing a place for people to engage in active recreation. County parks like Cave Point also protect against pollution by providing open space that help conserve plants and trees that reduce water, air, and noise pollution. These areas are also vital habitats for plant and animal species. As for the economic benefits, having a county park, especially one as picturesque as Cave Point, brings in a substantial amounts of tourism, suburban sprawl as more people want to live near areas that are clean and beautiful, and new businesses as CEO's claim that having facilities near parks improves the quality of life for employees.[6]


As time has passed the goals and motivations of the Door Country Parks Department have changed. These new goals include maintaining coordinated parks and outdoor recreation programs that meet the needs and demands of Door County visitors and residence. An example of Cave Point changing to keep up with the needs and demands of the public would be its installation of a gazebo on its south lawn, that the park rents out for special events. The board also hopes to encourage the development of sufficient and high quality recreational facilities in the park such as restrooms and cooking grills. As mentioned previously the park did install new bathrooms and lighting features, they also hope to repair the well on the site to a more functional state. Finally, the parks departments motivation for maintaining parks like Cave Point County Park remains to be preserving the significant scenic, geological, and natural beauty of the landscape.[7]

Geological Features

Cave Point County Park is one of the few rocky shorelines that can still be seen along the eastern side of the Door County Peninsula today.[8] The entire Door County peninsula, from the bay of Green Bay on the west to Lake Michigan on the east, is considered a cuesta. Cuestas (kway-stah) are a topographical term referring to land elevation with a sharp cliff on one side and a soft slope on the other.[9] Door County is also part of a geological formation called the Niagara Escarpment. The escarpment stretches from the state of New York through the Niagara Falls, then through the Bruce Peninsula, across the lower part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, shapes the geography of Door County and continues through the east side of Lake Winnebago and the Horicon Marsh, ending in northern Illinois. This feature was formed when glaciers one to two miles thick scraped out soft shale and left harder dolomite exposed, giving shape to the Great Lakes.[10]

The rocky shoreline in Door County was formed during the Silurian period, occurring approximately between 410 to 440 million years ago. At that point in time Wisconsin was located near the Earth’s equator.[11] Over this time period glaciers melting off and retreating resulted in the formation of a shallow, warm salt-water sea covering the central portion of North America. This sea had a bottom composed of Maquoketa Shale, which was covered with the skeletal remains, or Calcium Carbonate, of ancient marine creatures and sediment from erosion. This sediment, under pressure,time, and heat, transformed into the limestone that forms the scenic bluffs in Cave Point County Park, and can be seen in other locations all over the world.[12]

Scenic View.jpg

Relation to Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park

Beginning in the 1930's, conservationists started calling for the preservation of Whitefish Bay Dunes because of the rare plants and spectacular sand dunes, which were considered to be the best on the western shore of Lake Michigan. [13] However, it wasn’t until July 1967, 24 years after the establishment of Cave Point County Park, that the Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park was established. In 1982, 230 acres of the 867-acre park were designated as a state natural area. This action was part of a conservation program that worked to highlight and protect areas of outstanding natural or archaeological resources.[14] Excitingly, there is evidence for eight separate human occupations ranging from 100 B.C. to the late 1800's that can be found at Whitefish Bay Dunes State Park.[15] According to experts a number of factors made this a good location for settlement. These factors include the seasonal abundance of lake sturgeon, lake trout, walleyes, and whitefish, along with the overall variety of fishing opportunities. This is also true for Cave Point and Clark Lake that provided fishing diversity for these settlers. [16]

Community Involvement

One of the main attractions at Cave Point County Park are the stone piles along the shore called a cairn. Cairns are defined as “a heap of stones set up as a landmark, monument, or a tombstone", and these are found in abundance at Cave Point in the warm summer months. The community has embraced the cairn, which can be seen throughout Jacksonport on the way into the park.[17] Other community involvement opportunities at the park include kayak tours which explore the scenic shoreline and underground caves of Cave Point.[18]



  1. Cave Point. Peach107. 2008.
  2. Cave Point Door County Park. Wisconsin Explorer.
  3. Door County Parks and Open Spaces 2011-2015. Door County Parks Department.
  4. Door County Parks and Open Spaces 2011-2015. Door County Parks Department.
  5. Door County Parks and Open Spaces 2011-2015. Door County Parks Department.
  6. Door County Parks and Open Spaces 2011-2015. Door County Parks Department.
  7. Door County Parks and Open Spaces 2011-2015. Door County Parks Department.
  8. Door County Parks and Open Spaces 2011-2015. Door County Parks Department.
  9. Wildlife of Niagra Escarpment. Roy and Charlotte Lukes. 2010.
  10. Niagara Escarpment. Door County Coastal Byway. 2017.
  11. Door County Parks and Open Spaces 2011-2015. Door County Parks Department.
  12. Door County Parks and Open Spaces 2011-2015. Door County Parks Department.
  13. Whitefish Dunes State Park. Wisconsin DNR. 2015.
  14. Whitefish Dunes State Park. Wisconsin DNR. 2015.
  15. Whitefish Dunes State Park. Wisconsin DNR. 2015.
  16. Whitefish Dunes State Park. Wisconsin DNR. 2015.
  17. Rocks vanish along Cave Point shoreline. Peter J. Devlin. 2015.
  18. Cave Kayak Tour: Guided Cave Point Kayak Tours. Door County Kayak Tours.

Archival Resources for Further Research

1. 820 feet Southeast of Whitefish Dunes State Park in Lake Michigan. National or State Registered Record. Wisconsin Historical Society.,Ro:0,N:4294963828-4294963813&dsNavOnly=N:1133&dsRecordDetails=R:NR2380&dsDimensionSearch=D:cave+point+county+park,Dxm:All,Dxp:3&dsCompoundDimensionSearch=D:cave+point+county+park,Dxm:All,Dxp:3

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