The Apostle Islands are a group of 21 islands in Lake Superior, off the Bayfield Peninsula in northern Wisconsin. Along the gorgeous Lake Superior shoreline is an array of natural animal habitats and old-growth remnant forests that make Apostle Islands one of the most beautiful outdoor spaces to explore. From 100-year-old lighthouses to extensive sea cave formations, there is endless beauty when exploring the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

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How the Apostle Islands Were Formed

Blue mineral stains on the red sandstone of Apostle Islands sea caves.

The Apostle Islands were derived from glaciers that one covered North America. Once the glaciers melted, the relentless waves from Lake Superior caused erosion that formed the islands, which are made of mostly red sandstone. This resulted in the creation of a captivating array of arches, caverns, and the Apostles’ legendary sea caves.

Devils Island sandstone cliffs and lighthouse.

An archipelago is an area that contains a chain or group of islands scattered in lakes, rivers, or the ocean. The Apostle Island Archipelago and Bayfield Peninsula’s sandstones were deposited during the late Precambrian era, from almost a billion years ago until about 660 million years ago. These sandstones, the Bayfield Group, form the basement rock for all the islands.

Why the Apostle Islands are Wisconsin’s “Crown Jewels”


Why Devils Island is Unique

View of Sea Caves on Devils Island

The Devils Island Formation, sandwiched between the other islands, is the product of a dispositional environment of sandflats, intermittently covered by shallow ponded water, resulting in thinner, more easily eroded layers perfect for sea cave formation.

11 Stunning Photos of the Apostle Islands


A Rare Land Formation: Tombolo

Julian Bay Stockton Island

A tombolo is a landform that develops over time between two formerly separated islands due to specific conditions. At Apostle Islands, the largest tombolo extends between the previously separate Stockton and Presque Isle Islands. The location and orientation of these islands, and the direction of prevailing storms and winds, contributed significantly to the tombolo formation. Only islands that had enough eroding glacial drift over time could supply the sand required to produce this kind of landform.

5 Best Hikes in the Apostle Islands


See the Sandstone Masterpiece on an Apostle Islands Cruise

Morning cruises offer calmer waters

The best way to see Wisconsin’s “Crown Jewels”, is from the water. Apostle Island Cruises offers narrated tours of this amazing natural wonder for every schedule. Tours run yearly mid-May through September. Experience serene waters on the morning cruises, and mildest temperatures in the afternoon.

Did the Grand Tour at 10 am. It was absolutely AMAZING! We had amazing weather. The captain gave a great tour and commentary. I learned so much about the islands and got to see Bald Eagles and great nature. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!” Amalia J, TripAdvisor

Choose Your Tour and Plan Your Trip

Sandstone Cliffs and Sea Caves at Sunset

The evening cruises are a favorite for photographers.

Apostle Island Cruises Autumn Tours

Fall is a wonderful time to experience nature’s glory and the stunning change of seasonal colors.

Apostle Island Cruises

The natural wonder of sandstone cliffs, sea caves and the mesmerizing beauty of The Apostle Islands await you. Book your Apostle Island Cruise today!

Book Your Apostle Islands Cruise