The Apostle Islands in Wisconsin, also known as the Jewels of Lake Superior, are made up of twenty-one islands and 12 miles of mainland. Visitors will be mesmerized by the beautiful scenery, cultural blending, and the contrast of past and present on the islands. The Apostle Islands have been home to American Indians, early farmers, fishermen, and lighthouse caretakers and their families throughout its history.
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The people that lived on the island in the past made their living through logging, quarrying stone, fishing, and farming. Evidence of the lives of the previous inhabitants of island can be found by keen observers as well as by those that are less so. Some traces are easily spotted such as lighthouses with their towers and outbuildings.
There is other evidence of the previous occupants like the walls towering above the Bass Island Brownstone Quarry, which can be found on the southern tip of Basswood Island. Other less obvious traces of past peoples and their lives include the low stonework foundation found in the woods of Sand Island. This foundation is all that remains of the old one-room schoolhouse where children of the islands fishers and farmers learned.
Lake Superior itself conceals traces of previous inhabitants. Many ships were wrecked in the lakes waters. The Wisconsin State Underwater Archaeology office contains records with detailed information and rich accounts on the wrecked ships on the Lake Superior Shipwrecks website.
Things to Do
Visitors to the Apostle Island will enjoy various outdoor activities no matter the season.
Sailing and Boating- Boating docks can be found on twelve of the islands. Visitors that choose to partake in the sailing opportunities offered by the National Lakeshore will enjoy bays protected by conservation laws, public docks, beautiful beaches, historic sites, and the wild beauty of the islands.
Fishing- Depending upon the season, fishermen will catch a variety of fish on Lake Superior. Spring is best for catching trout and salmon. During the summer months, Lake Trout are the most sought-after fish by fishermen. The fall season brings fishermen many of the same fish as in the spring.
Hiking- With more than fifty miles of maintained trails, the islands offer a dream experience for hikers. The trails offer access to various historic sites such as lighthouses, logging camps, and quarries. They also offer access to beaches and picturesque overlooks. The islands boast several nice beaches great for walking and exploring. The Lakeshore Trail on the mainland is a rough trail for use by experienced hikers and runs for four and half miles coming to an end at a backcountry campsite. The first 0.7 miles of trail is covered by a boardwalk and 2 miles from the beginning of the trail, hikers will find a natural bridge and the first sea cave overlook point.
Kayaking- Visitors can utilize kayaking to explore the islands and the mainland sea caves. The kayak launch points can be found at Meyer’s Beach and Little Sand Bay.
Day Trips- Shuttles are available from the Apostle Islands Cruise Service for visitors who wish to spend the day exploring the islands and its history. This is great for those who prefer not to kayak or use their personal boats.
Camping- Of the nineteen Apostle Islands, only one campsite on the mainland allows for camping, but the majority of those who camp, camp at Stockton Island. Backcountry camping is allowed on sixteen of the islands.
Guided Tours- Guided tours of the Raspberry Island Lighthouse, the Sand Island Lighthouse, the Manitou Island Fish Camp, and the Hokenson Brother’s Fishery are available to visitors.
Hunting and Trapping- Hunting and trapping on the Apostle Islands is offered to visitors during specific seasons with the appropriate licenses.
Scuba Diving- Divers will enjoy the sparkling water of Lake Superior, where submerged rock formations and real shipwreck sites are abundant.
Junior Ranger Program- Participants learn about the park and how to help preserve it. All kids are welcome to come and learn about the environments in the world around them.
Apostle Island School- This program is a partnership between the National Park Service, the Olson Environmental Institute, and Northland College. School-age children are sent on a three-day residential stay at the Apostle Islands that gets them away from technology.
Lighthouse Curriculum- A curriculum is available for download by teachers and students who wish to learn about the lighthouses on the Apostle Islands and their history.
Become A Volunteer-In-Parks- Several diverse volunteer opportunities are available within the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The positions are a great way to help the National Park Service protect the Apostle Islands, educate visitors on their importance, all while learning new skills and gaining experiences that are hard to find anywhere else.
415 Washington Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814, Phone: 715-779-3397