Apostle Islands

Apostle Islands

Camping on Madeline Island

I have visited the Apostle Islands 3 times, camping twice on the big island in Big Bay State Park.  The 21 Apostle Islands are located on Lake Superior near the Northwest corner of Wisconsin.   Access to the Islands is from the town of Bayfield.   Only Madeline Island is inhabited year round, with the small village of LaPointe at the closest point to the mainland.  There is frequent ferry service the 2.6 miles out to the Island for vacationers and residents.   The channel between the Island and the mainland freezes in mid winter after which access is via a plowed ice road and snowmobiles.    During periods where travel on the ice is unsafe, a propeller-driven windsled is provided for public transportation and supplies.

The waters surrounding the Apostle Islands have been a popular destination for sailors and is considered one of the premiere sailing locations in the Midwest.   The other main attraction is Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island.  The park offers a number of primitive camping sites concealed in wooded areas, but near sandy beaches and large meadows for recreation.   A board walk follows much of the 1.5 miles of sandy beach, concealed within the trees that line the shore. Interpretations of the natural plants found along the boardwalk are posted along the path.   

Camping on Madeline Island for a couple days may become a yearly event.    Following are some links to photos and highlights from my camping trips.

The City of Bayfield -  Bayfield is located on the side of a hill, similar to Duluth, Minnesota.   Several restored victorian homes are visible on the hillside.

Ferry Dock - Frequently scheduled ferries travel the 2.6 miles between Madeline Island and Bayfield.  There are no reservations required.    Here are some views while waiting to load the Aliner on the ferry.

Views of the Lake -  Crossing the bay to Madeline Island provides views of the great sailing opportunities that exist among the Apostles.   Even the best fresh water sailor can be challenged among the out-islands where the depths of Lake Superior can create turbulence on a windy day.  Sea Kayaking among the islands is also one of the sports available to skilled tourists.

Camping on Madeline - On the way to Big Bay State Park, there are many opportunities to view the deer that inhabit the island.  Dusk or early morning are the best times.   We actually had to chase two deer from our assigned campsite before I could back in the Aliner.

Big Bay Lagoon -  Big Bay Lagoon lies between two barrier beaches within a short distance of the campsites.  The sandy beaches are easy to walk.

The Boardwalk - Following much of the 1.5 miles of beach is a boardwalk that lies within the trees with periodic paths to the beach.   There are a number of viewpoints and rest areas along the way, with interpretations of the natural plants found there. 

For more information follow this link to Madeline Island Chamber of Commerce.


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