The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a protected area along Lake Superior in northwestern Wisconsin. It’s become hugely popular with sea kayakers—both the islands themselves and a stretch of sea caves in the mainland nearby.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
The Apostle Islands are an archipelago of 21 islands at the end of the Bayfield Peninsula in northwestern Wisconsin.
Unlike the hard basalt rock of the north shore of Lake Superior, the south shore is mainly sedimentary rock. Centuries of wave action, freezing and thawing have carved out sea caves begging to be explored—by boaters in the summer months, and by winter hikers and skiers when the Lake freezes.
Activities on and around the Islands include camping, hiking, boating, fishing, sailing, diving and lighthouse tours. Kayaking is a perfect way to get up-close-and-personal with the sea caves.
How to Get There
The nearest major airport to the Apostle Islands is in Duluth, Minnesota, then a 2-hour drive to the end of the Peninsula. It’s about a 4-hour drive from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Twin Cities area.
The Islands themselves can only be accessed by water. There are several commercial outfitters and ferries in the area, and you can bring your own boat if you choose.
Lodging, Camping and Outfitting
Multitudes of lodging, camping and outfitting opportunities are available to access the mainland sea caves and Islands.
- Hotels and Inns closest to the Apostle Islands
- Camping in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
- Trips, Tours and Expedition Services authorized by the National Park Service (current as of July 2016).
If you and your group are experienced, consider camping on one of the Islands and taking several days to tour the area in your kayaks.
Kayaking on Lake Superior
Lake Superior is known for its unpredictable weather patterns and hypothermia-inducing cold water temperatures—even in mid-summer. While calm water is common in the summer months especially (as in the above photo), 4-10 foot waves aren't uncommon!
Be sure to check the local weather forecast before heading out. If you’re a novice kayaker, you’re best bet is to go through one of the local outfitters with a guide. The extra expense will be well worth the trade-off for their experience with both kayaking the Lake and knowing the area.
A World-Class Kayak Destination
The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore offers some of the best inland kayaking in the world. In fact, it’s an ocean-like experience without the salt! It deserves a place on your list of kayaking destinations.
For more information:
More Lake Superior kayaking:
(All photos and map courtesy of the National Park Service)