Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

By: Posted On: 2015-01-31

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is located in the north Midwestern United States near Duluth, Minnesota. Its islands are situated off the tip of Wisconsin, in Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes. Apostle Islands NL was established on September 26, 1970.

Notable Feature

As of late, the most notable features in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore have been the sea caves. Located on the mainland, as well as Sand and Devil Islands, the sea caves face wide open swaths of Lake Superior.

Created as a result of erosion, the sandstone caves are hollowed out by the lake’s tireless waves. Most of the caves are best visited by boat, but you have to be careful. Depending on the season, it can be dangerous to get too close. Waves pound the caves with a thundering whoosh as water, air and mist come firing back out of the hollows. When the water is calm, however, kayakers can explore the insides of the caves.

In 2014, cold temperatures created ice caves that made the news. Thousands of visitors came to see the awesome ice formations. If you’re lucky, you may be able to see them in an upcoming winter!



As you might have expected, the water is king at Apostle Islands NL. While there are land activities, you better have some method of water travel (or be prepared to pay for it).

• Sailing/Boating – in addition to providing wonderful views of the lakeshores and sea caves, boating is how you get around. Most islands are equipped with public docks, allowing you to get on and off where you please. Expect to pay a small fee to dock your boat, however.

• Fishing – Lake Superior is home to lake, brown, brook, and rainbow trout, as well as Coho salmon. In order to try your hand at catching some, you’ll need a Wisconsin fishing permit as well as Great Lakes trout and salmon stamps.

• Scuba diving – Apostle Islands NL is full of fun underwater places to explore. I recommend taking a new look at the sea caves, but the historic docks and shipwrecks are definitely worth your time as well.

If you prefer to spend your time on land, there are hiking opportunities on all 21 of the islands. If you arrive outside of the tourist season (May 15 to Labor Day), you may also hunt and/or trap for wolves, bears, deer, small mammals, and waterfowl. Contact the park for more information.

Worthwhile destinations

Supposing you were willing to suit up and try out some scuba diving, “the wall” would be a thrilling adventure. Located on the southwest side of Stockton Island, “the wall” is a sheer sandstone cliff that drops sharply to depths of over 100 feet!

If you have the guts to stare into the abyss, you can take comfort in knowing that sharks, whales, and other beasts of the ocean deep won’t be hiding at the bottom of the lake. However, staring into the dark, watery depths might still send a shiver down your spine!

North Twin Island is another on-the-edge place to visit. It is the second smallest island in the park and is also the second furthest from shore. North Twin Island is the rare destination deemed worthwhile because of its lack of aweing geography. Fewer on-island destinations mean fewer visitors, and you may be fortunate enough to have the entire island to yourself.

Getting here

If you can launch a boat from somewhere on Lake Superior, you can take it directly to the park, located in the southwest corner of the lake about 60 miles east of Duluth. Otherwise, you’re stuck traveling by car.

If coming from Duluth, take U.S. Route 53-S to WIS 13-E and then follow the signs.

If coming from the south, take U.S. Route 63-N to U.S. Route 53-N to WIS 13-E and then follow the signs.

If coming from the east, take U.S. Route 2-W to WIS 13-W and then follow the signs.


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