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Apostle Islands, Wisconsin Travel Guide

Complete Vacation, Recreation and Tourism Information

Don't be off-put by the official sounding title - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ? find here a postcard-pretty destination that's anything but pompous and stuffy. This water washed region is freckled with 21 islands and framed by 12 miles of Wisconsin shoreline, a stunningly beautiful Lake Superior escape. Boasting breeze dusted beaches, ice-scoured cliffs and brilliant blue horizons, the Apostle Islands are easily accessible but also offer plenty of peaceful opportunities for the wanderer seeking a slice of serenity.

The islands lay scattered about off the Bayfield Peninsula, many of them open to campers. For those lacking enthusiasm for closed-in confines of canvas walls or just generally short on time, organized tours are a popular way see the islands (and respective lighthouses) without breaking out tent stakes or a sweat over paddling. Those with an unlimited budget can opt instead for a water taxi or charter out to islands, though with time, a plan and a canoe, the most rewarding way to get around is under your own power. Lake Superior can be temperamental though, so proceed with an eye to the weather, good maps and the advice of locals in the know.

If you think the deep blue waters washing up against the shores of these peaceful islands looks inviting, consider doing some diving around wrecks scattered in the region ? some are close enough to the surface to access armed only with mask and snorkel. Make sure to register with the National Park Service before descending.

Madeline Island is the "urban" hub of this set (and not technically part of the National Lakeshore), boasting a small year-round population and very basic amenities. There are a handful of interesting historic sites to see here, then head for Big Bay State Park where you'll find a beautiful stretch of beach and pleasant walking trails. Rent a moped or bike when you hop off the ferry to really do the island justice. If you're passing through in winter, drive on over to Madeline on the "ice highway".

Campsites are available on some of the other islands, but Stockton Island, with a good range of hiking possibilities, is always a favorite.

In short, find plenty of photo-worthy vistas, pleasant hiking trails, splendid boating possibilities and quaint old lighthouses there for the effort.

*There are actually 22 Apostle Islands but only 21 are part of the National Lakeshore.


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