Twenty-one islands with stunning beaches, stunning historic lighthouses, abundant wildlife, sandstone formations and sea caves are just a few of the many wonders of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Nestled on 12 miles of Lake Superior shoreline near Bayfield, Wisconsin, the Apostle Islands offer some of the best sightseeing in the world. Here’s why they’re considered the “crown jewel” of the state:
See Wisconsin’s Crown Jewel with Incredible Cruises
Serving the public within the national lakeshore as an authorized park concessioner, Apostle Islands Cruises provides narrated sightseeing cruises, hiking and camping shuttles, and guided lighthouse tours out of Bayfield.
The most popular cruise is the Grand Tour which takes passengers on a narrated, informative 2 ½ to 3-hour scenic excursion to see the Raspberry Island and Devils Island Lighthouse, gorgeous sea caves, marine wildlife, and much more.
Exploring the archipelago on foot offers some of the most peaceful experiences and intimate vistas. Visit Stockton Island, where there are approximately 14 miles of scenic hiking trails. Hikers can explore lagoons, beaches, marshes, dunes, dense forests and brownstone quarries.
The Apostle Islands are a treat to explore at any time of the year, but autumn is particularly breathtaking. The rustic archipelago boasts of trees adorned with a brilliant display of reds, yellows, and oranges. If you’re keen on viewing the foliage from the water, you’re in luck as Apostle Islands Cruises operate until October.
A bear swimming between the mainland and the islands. PC: National Park Service.
The Apostle Islands offer a secure and sheltered haven for a diverse range of flora and fauna, including various birds, mammals, plants, amphibians, and aquatic creatures. Although it’s not unheard of for whitetail deer and bears to make their way to the islands by swimming between the mainland and the islands, bald eagles are a common sight for those embarking on a Grand Tour.
The Apostles’ legendary sea caves attract hordes of visitors every year. The reddish-brown sandstone cliffs have weathered due to the relentless forces of lake waves and erosion, resulting in the creation of a captivating array of arches, caves, and caverns.
Unbeknownst to many, the Apostle Islands has the largest concentration of lighthouses in North America. For over a century, these beacons have been a lifeline for sailors navigating treacherous waters. Discover the stories of the intrepid lighthouse keepers and their familiar braving the harsh winters of the islands onboard.
Bayfield is a delightful place that has been recognized by USA Today as one of the best coastal small towns. It’s also known as the “Berry Capital of Wisconsin” due to its abundant berry farms and orchards that form the “Fruit Loop.”
The Apostle Islands are also recognized for providing some of the best night sky viewing, far away from city lights. With camping available on 18 of Apostle’s 21 islands, one on the mainland, and several in the Bayfield area, spending a night under the stars at the national lakeshore is nothing short of a dream come true.
Winter Ice CavesSkiing along the ice caves on the mainland. PC: National Park Service.
The mainland of the Apostle Islands are also a popular destination in the wintertime as beautiful ice caves form along the shoreline. While frozen lake water coats the base of the cliffs, massive pillars of ice hang from the cliff tops where waterfalls have hardened. It’s always recommended to check with the NPS regarding the ice conditions before walking over the frozen lake.
Book Your Trip to the Apostle Islands Today
The Apostle Islands are Wisconsin’s “Crown Jewel”, and probably one of the most hidden gems in the United States! Besides the national lakeshore, there are plenty of restaurants, hotels, campgrounds, events, and shopping options in the Bayfield area as well. Book your trip to the Apostle Islands today to take your own photographs and capture memories of a lifetime.