Frequently Asked Questions

How did the Apostle Islands get their name?

It is reasonable to presume that the “Apostles” name was applied by the early Jesuits who drew up the first maps of the region in the early 18th century, as they had the habit of giving holy names to new places.

How do I get to the islands?

You may take your own boat out onto Lake Superior, or paddle a kayak to one of the islands. Outfitters rent kayaks and offer guided trips. The Apostle Islands Cruise Service offers opportunities to get to an island and tour amongst the islands. There are water taxi services and sail boat rentals available in Bayfield.

How do I get to a lighthouse?

The six light stations within the national lakeshore are on islands. You may take your own boat, or kayak. The Apostle Islands Cruise Service offers tours that provide a view of some lighthouses from the boat, and one tour that provides an opportunity to land and tour inside a lighthouse. The Cruise Service also offers an expanded schedule of lighthouse tours for three weeks in September as part of their “Lighthouse Celebration”.

Where can I camp in the national lakeshore?

Camping is available on 18 of the islands within the national lakeshore. There is one remote mainland campsite, 4 ½ miles from the nearest road. A camping permit is required to camp within the national lakeshore.

Can I dock or beach my boat on an island?

Space is reserved at some docks for NPS vessels and excursion boats. Remaining dock space is available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. All shorelines are open to beaching of boats with the exception of Eagle and Gull Islands, which are closed for colonial bird nesting.

Are there bears on the islands?

One of the greatest concentrations of black bears in North America is found on Stockton Island in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Bears also regularly inhabit Sand and Oak islands, and, due to their swimming ability, may be found on just about any of the Apostle Islands.

Where can I go to see Sea Caves?

The sea caves are best seen by boat. The Apostle Islands Cruise Service offers trips past the Devils Island sea caves and a sunset cruise to the mainland caves. Kayak outfitters guide day trips to the mainland caves. Kayakers with their own boats wishing to visit the mainland caves will find a good launch point at the end of Meyers Road. Kayakers and boaters can see sea caves on the east side of Sand Island as well. Hikers can enjoy views of the mainland sea caves from the park’s “Lakeshore Trail”.

Are the bugs bad?

The number of bugs and when they arrive varies considerably from year to year. Insect numbers also vary from one location to another, due to micro-climate effects, and from day to day due to weather changes. For example, the cooler Lake Superior shores tend to have fewer mosquitoes, but wind direction and other factors can override that tendency. “Sand flies”, or “ankle-biters”, can be quite numerous during periodic hatches, mostly along shorelines. Long pants and thick socks are the best defense. Generally, biting insects seem to be most numerous in late spring/early summer.

When are the blueberries going to be ripe?

There are wild blueberries on several of the islands. They are generally ripe in late July and early August. Berries can be collected for personal use.

Does the lake freeze over?

It takes a while for the lake to cool off, but by late winter Lake Superior is usually 30% - 95% covered with ice. This ice can vary greatly in thickness and will shift around frequently due to wind and water movement. Lake Superior may freeze completely over approximately once or twice in a century. How much of the Apostle Islands area is frozen varies from year to year and even from day to day.

Last updated: April 10, 2015

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Bayfield, WI 54814


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