When you think of Wisconsin maybe cheese comes to mind? Well, check out the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and it’s sure to occupy your thoughts instead.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore encompasses 21 islands as well as shoreline along Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin. The distinctive geology of the area is a result of glacial activity many thousands of years ago leaving beautiful sandstone formations that dazzle the eye.
Let’s begin on the west side of the park, where you’ll find hiking trails and campgrounds on the mainland of Wisconsin. Take the Lakeshore trail along the cliffs and see the waters of Lake Superior pound the shoreline. If you are not familiar with the Great Lakes you may be surprised that the waters are so rough and powerful!
You can also kayak into the area to get a better look at the amazing caves and sandstone formations. But beware, the surges are strong and boaters have been injured and killed here. Just be prepared and aware. In the winter it is also possible to walk out on the frozen lake and see amazing ice sculptures formed by wave action.
After your visit to the mainland part of Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, let’s explore the islands, shall we? There is a lot to see!
Summer is the high season of course, with visitors coming from all around to take boat tours of the area and go camping on the islands. Spring and autumn are also beautiful times to visit, especially fall when the leaves are turning. The main gateway to the Apostle Islands is the charming town of Bayfield, WI. be sure to take a little time to enjoy this village and the friendly residents. See below for some of our favorite places to stay too.
For an easy way to see the Apostle Islands on a day trip you can take a tour boat ride with Apostle Islands Cruises. They’ll show you the many caves and lighthouses, and tell you all you want to know about the history of the area. Don’t forget your camera!
You can also reach the islands by ferry from Bayfield. Many visitors head to Madeline Island (not part of the park) which is one of the largest and has lots of recreation opportunities like hiking, canoeing, fishing and bicycling. This island has lodging as well as camping for overnight stays.
Check out these websites for awesome places to camp all over the USA.
Explore some of the other 21 islands for a more remote and quiet experience. You can reach these islands by ferry as well as with your own personal boat or charter boat. Stockton Island, Sand Island, Manitou Island, Oak Island and several other islands have established campsites. Check the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore website for camping and other recreational information.
While the islands are of course most popular in the summertime, winter is an interesting time to visit as well. The ice caves are said to be fantastic. You can walk and even cycle out on the ice of Lake Superior and get a totally different feeling for the area. I recently saw some amazing photos from Kat Carney on Instagram of her winter visit there. Check these out!
Places to Stay Near the Apostle Islands
If you are just visiting the Apostle Islands for the day you may want to base yourself in Bayfield or Ashland, Wisconsin. Here are some favorite places to stay in Bayfield and Ashland.
- The Old Rittenhouse Inn is a charming B&B set in a Victorian mansion.
- Seagull Bay Motel is a low cost option in Bayfield with amazing lake views.
- Also in Bayfield with an amazing lake view is Winfield Inn & Gardens
- AmericInn Ashland has balconies facing the lake
- The Hotel Chequamegon is a modern hotel located in Ashland
Check here for all kinds of accommodations on Madeline Island from condos to cottages.
Check out Hipcamp for lots of rustic places to stay near or on the Apostle Islands, the site has helpful reviews and photos too. If you use this link to register you’ll get $20 toward your first reservation.
And of course, check with Apostle Islands National Lakeshore for information on camping on the islands.