Apostle Islands Grand Boat Tour - Bayfield

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Devils Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Devils Island in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is an archipelago of twenty two picture perfect islands off the Bayfield Peninsula in Lake Superior. The islands and portions of the mainland were originally put under the protections of the Antiquities Act by President Nixon in 1970.

It is a relatively new national park, and not as well known. But, the easy going bohemian tourism culture that characterizes the entire region of Ashland and Bayfield Counties is similar to Mt. Desert Island and Acadia National Park in Maine. Two lane highways thread through national forest and national park lands connecting small quaint coastal villages. Like Acadia, The Apostle Islands Lakeshore is among the most popular places in the world for kayaking.

The best introduction to the islands and national park is to take a Grand Tour of the Islands run by the Apostle Island Cruise Service. This three hour cruise on a glass bottomed tour boat sails tourists past many of the most popular islands, lighthouses, sea caves, and historic sites. If you're planning your first trip to Bayfield and Madeline Island, the Grand Tour is a must-do. Make sure to book your tickets far in advance and then arrive an hour early at the dock to get a place in line for boarding call. The best seats are up top on the open air deck and they go quickly on a first come first served basis.







Devil's Island Sea Caves - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Devil's Island Sea Caves - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore



When French explorers and fur traders were exploring their claims to New France - Madeline Island was one of their first stops in Wisconsin and the fur trading post they setup in La Pointe in 1660 is one of the oldest European settlements in the state and region. It was these Frenchmen who branded the archipelago of islands in Lake Superior as The Apostle Islands.

There are 22 Apostle Islands, and 12 biblical apostles. The 12 largest islands were named for apostles - and today none of those names remain. Madeline Island was named for Madeleine Cadottea, a daughter of Ojibwe Chief White Crane.

In 1970 the Apostle Islands and land on the Bayfield Peninsula were protected under the Antiquities Act by President Nixon. Now, all but Madeline Island are managed by the National Park Service as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

Madeline Island is the most popular island in the area, but the only one that is not part of the National Lakeshore. Aside from Big Bay State Park, the properties on Madeline Island are privately owned. The island draws boatloads of tourists who enjoy the island culture and small town charm of La Pointe.

The Grand Tour begins by cruising past the shoreline of Madeline Island, but then progresses into the heart of the archipelago. The captain provides a narration as the boat glides through turquoise water past islands. Along the way you will get a good view of an authentic fishing village, brownstone quarries, and the sea caves that have made these islands famous.

You'll get a great view of the lighthouse and sea caves on Devil's Island. And, don't worry if you ended up on the far side of the boat from the sights. The captain will turn the boat a few times to make sure everyone gets the same views and photo opportunities. Another favorite site is the picturesque lighthouse on Raspberry Island.

Raspberry Island Lighthouse - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Raspberry Island Lighthouse - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


The boat ride gets to be a bit long towards the end, but this is the price of traveling so far out into the archipelago to see the most famous sites - it's a long ride back to Bayfield. Along the way - those lucky passengers who got seats up top on the open air deck tend to get chilled by the cold wind coming off Lake Superior. The upper deck passengers will be trying to get a seat down below on the main deck. So, if you didn't arrive early enough to get a seat up top, you'll likely get your chance to get an outdoor seat after the tour has been going for an hour and other passengers are getting anxious to move around.

There are a few keys to fully enjoying your grand tour: Purchase tickets ahead of time online and pick them up at will call; arrive one hour to 45 minutes early at the city dock to get a place in line for boarding so that you can claim the best seat; and, bring sweatshirts and wind breakers even on days that seem hot on shore - Lake Superior is very cold all year long.

The Grand Tour of the Islands is an attraction that you just can't pass on if you are seeing the Apostle Islands for the first time.

Apostle Islands Cruises - Superior Princess
Apostle Islands Cruises - Superior Princess



Directions




Address for your GPS: 2 Front St Bayfield, WI 54814
| coordinates: 46.811135, -90.813388 |

From Milwaukee6 Hours
From Madison5 Hours
From Green Bay4.5 Hours
From Wausau3.5 Hours
From Minneapolis3.5 Hours
From Chicago7 Hours



Photos



Devil's Island Lighthouse - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Devil's Island Lighthouse - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Apostle Islands Cruises - Superior Princess
Apostle Islands Cruises - Superior Princess

Manitou Fishing Camp on Manitou Island
Manitou Fishing Camp on Manitou Island

Devil's Island Sea Caves - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Devil's Island Sea Caves - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Devil's Island Lighthouse - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Devil's Island Lighthouse - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore


Devil's Island Sea Caves - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Devil's Island Sea Caves - Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Apostle Islands Cruises - Superior Princess
Apostle Islands Cruises - Superior Princess

Glass Bottom Boat - on the Superior Princess - Apostle Islands Grand Tour
Glass Bottom Boat - on the Superior Princess - Apostle Islands Grand Tour



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