The Apostle Islands have been carved by glacial ice, wind, and waves for over a million years. There’s endless beauty when exploring the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, with dramatic shorelines, sandstone cliffs, extensive sea saves, miles of pristine sand beaches and 100-year-old lighthouses. Apostle Island Cruises offers unique opportunities to explore this wonderous area.

Apostle Island Sea Caves


The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Courtesy of Bayfield Heritage Association
Bayfield Ridge Map from Geology of Wisconsin 1880

Courtesy of Bayfield Heritage Association
Rocky Island / Robert Nelson Collection

Leading members of the Ashland, Washburn and Bayfield communities recognized the beauty and historical significance of The Apostle Islands and work began to try to make them part of the National Park system as far back as 1929. The natural wonder of The Apostle Islands makes it easy to see why it was finally designated as a National Lakeshore in 1970.


Farming Ups and Downs

Courtesy of Beyfield Heritage Association: Erickson orchard and farm raspberry patch ca 1956 and Bayfield Horticultural Society – Bayfield Progress – November 02, 1911

The rich soil of the Apostle Islands offered excellent farming opportunities. They had some of the best places in the state for cultivation of fruits, with numerous varieties of wild berries growing there profusely. However, the expected agricultural boom never took place, and the last island farm was gone before the end of World War II. With their isolation and limited accessibility, farms on the islands could never compete economically with those on the mainland.

Abundance of Delicious Berries in Bayfield

In nearby Bayfield, gateway to the Apostle Islands, the rich farming history continues. It is known as the Berry Capital of Wisconsin with fresh strawberries, sweet and tart cherries, raspberries, blueberries and blackberries available in the summer, and apples available in the fall.



Courtesy of Bayfield Heritage Association
Timber hauled to the railroad on logging cars and last log cut at the Wachsmuth Mill

Logging was a vital economy of the Apostle Islands. The forested islands attracted lumbermen in the mid-1800s when population gains spurred a demand for timber construction. Pine logs were rafted across the lake to sawmills at Bayfield, Washburn, and Ashland. After exhausting white pine and hemlock, loggers cut the hardwoods, an industry that lasted into the 1950s.

Stockton Island

Today, maturing forests are again covering the islands. You can explore open forests, magnificent hiking trails and a variety of plant species with a trip to Stockton or Oak Island on an Apostle Island Cruise shuttle.


Lighthouses To Guide the Way

Old Long Island LaPointe Lighthouse Built in 1858

Six light stations were built on the Apostle Islands between 1857 and 1891 to safely guide ships to Lake Superior ports. The lights saved lives, but they protected more than ships and crews. The islands lie on the edge of northern hardwood forests. Reserves established near lighthouses on Devils, Outer, Raspberry, and Sand Islands to provide firewood for keepers resulted in the protection of some of the best examples of old-growth forests in the region.

Apostle Island Cruises offers an excellent opportunity to visit historic lighthouses.

Apostle Island Cruises

The Michigan Island Lighthouse was the first lighthouse built on the Apostle Islands in 1857 with a second tower erected in 1908. Located on an isolated island, which was only accessible by boat, seemed the ideal site for a navigational aid that could pierce the thick fog and dark nights.

Michigan Island Lighthouse

You can step back in time on Raspberry Island to visit the beautifully renovated Raspberry Island Lighthouse that was known as the “Showplace of the Apostle Islands”. It was built in 1862 and renovated in 2006. The lightkeeper’s skiff is on display in the fog signal building and flowering trees surround the delightful grounds.

Raspberry Island Lighthouse

The Apostle Islands have a wonderful history. The area continues to be sought after for those desiring dramatic shorelines, sandstone cliffs, sea caves, and miles of pristine sand beaches.

Exploring Sea Caves
Apostle Island Cruises Grand Tour