World renowned for its famous ice caves, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore in northern Wisconsin is also home to enchanting lighthouses, dazzling sea caves, sandstone cliffs, and many historical remnants of a time long past when logging and commercial fishing helped shape these islands. Today, the archipelago that makes up the 21 islands in the Apostles is an outdoor recreation paradise, with limitless opportunities for boating, kayaking, camping and hiking.
Here are ten reasons why you should plan your visit to the Apostle Islands:
1. Mainland Ice Caves
An unforgettable December sunset through an icy porthole at the mainland ice caves
When the conditions are favorable and the surface of Lake Superior freezes solid enough to allow safe travel, the mainland ice caves are a must-see bucket list item for many people. Remember to check with the National Park Service for accessibility and park closures before planning your visit.
2. Devil's Island Sea Caves
Warm morning light glows on a sandstone arch at Devil's Island
Sculpted by the wind and waves of Lake Superior over the millennia, the sandstone sea caves on Devil's Island are a wonder to behold. Paddle through the majestic arches or do a slow tour in a boat for close up views.
3. Stockton Island Sea Stacks
Pastel sunrise from a secluded beach on Stockton Island
Stockton Island is home to several sea stacks, standing stoically against the unrelenting forces of nature. Watching a sunrise against a backdrop of such rugged beauty is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.
4. Gorgeous Sunrises
Glass flat seas and a gorgeous pre-dawn glow on Stockton Island
With the endless blue of Lake Superior stretching out before you, imagine watching the sun break the horizon and gently bathe the sandstone cliffs with warm morning light. #lifechanging
5. Historic Lighthouses
Brilliant late season Milky Way over the Devil's Island lighthouse
The Apostles are home to a number of lighthouses, which for many years safely guided mariners across Lake Superior and through the islands. Some, such as the Michigan Island Lighthouse offer guided tours led by Park Service staff.
6. Rugged, Unspoiled Beauty
One of several sea stacks located along the rugged coast of Stockton Island
Aside from the established Park Service campsites found on 18 of the Apostle Islands, primitive camping zones are available for adventurers seeking a more remote, undeveloped experience. Opportunities for exploration abound!
7. Dark Skies
The galactic core of the Milky Way hovers over the Outer Island lagoon, as the vast expanse of the night sky stretches on endlessly.
You'll find some of the darkest skies in Wisconsin here in the Apostle Islands. Miles from the mainland and nearly devoid of light pollution, seeing the Milky Way glow and sparkle on a clear night is worth all the lost sleep!
8. Sandstone Arches
Devil’s Island sea cave in subtle morning light, on a warm and sunny summer day.
Once covered by glaciers, the Apostle Islands today are a unique blend of sandstone cliffs, sea caves, and arches like this one, all the result of erosion from wind and water. Speaking of water - have you ever seen such crystal clear, pristine beauty??
9. The Many Moods of Lake Superior
Dense, moody fog shrouds the rising sun at Honeymoon Rock on Basswood Island.
As those who live near Lake Superior are fond of saying, "The Lake is Boss", and there is no truer statement. For every beautiful summer day when the sun is shining in a bright blue sky and the water is dead calm, there's a corresponding day when The Lake shows her other, unforgiving side. Fog, gale force winds, and waves that send even the largest boats scrambling for safe harbor.
10. Views You Won't Find Anywhere Else
It doesn't take much imagination to see a pirate ship under sail when looking at this incredible sea stack on Stockton Island. Lit beautifully on this summer day as I paddled the crystal clear water on seas of glass.
Red sandstone cliffs, sea caves, and the impossibly clear waters of Lake Superior backed by lush green island forests, some with old-growth timber still standing today. Lighthouses, old logging camps, abandoned brownstone quarries and unforgettable overlooks. All are waiting to be discovered, here in the Apostle Islands.
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