The Apostle Islands are Wisconsin's northernmost landscape. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore includes 21 islands and 12 miles of mainland on the south shore of Lake Superior. The lakeshore encompasses 69,372 acres, of which 27,323 acres are submerged lands in Lake Superior; the park boundary extends 0.25 mile from the shore of the mainland and from each island. Eighty percent of the land area of the park was designated as the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness in December 2004. The islands range in size from 3-acre Gull Island to 10,054-acre Stockton Island. The islands are spread out over a portion of Lake Superior nearly 290,000 acres in size.
A variety of scenic features can be found on the islands, including some of the earliest and latest events of geologic history in the lower 48 states. The park features pristine stretches of sand beach; spectacular sea caves; remnant old-growth forests; a diverse population of birds, mammals, amphibians, and fish; and the largest collection of national register lighthouses and lighthouse complexes in the national park system. People have used the islands for thousands of years. During the historic period, people constructed residences and started farms, fishing operations, brownstone quarries, and logging camps on the islands. Recreational activities within the park include sailing, kayaking, power boating, fishing, hiking, swimming, sightseeing, nature study, photography, and camping.
There are 57 individual campsites and nine group campsites in the park. All but one campsite must be reached by boat. Some islands have only a single campsite. Stockton Island has 19 individual campsites and two group campsites. One of these individual campsites and both group campsites are accessible to campers with disabilities. All of the park's campsites are located along the shoreline. Most of these are adjacent to sand beaches or docks. Campsites are equipped with a fire ring and a bear-proof food storage locker. All but two of the sites have either a vault toilet or stump privy. Most of the campsites have a picnic table. Some of the campsites have tent pads. Thirteen of the campsites are in the Gaylord Nelson Wilderness area. There is no car or RV camping in the national lakeshore. A variety of campgrounds with facilities for car and RV camping are in the Bayfield area on the mainland and on Madeline Island. Madeline Island is not part of the national lakeshore.
Advance reservations for camping permits are required for camping in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Individual campsites accommodate a maximum of seven campers and three tents. They may be reserved starting 30 days before the start of a trip. Group campsites accommodate a party of 8-21 campers. They may be reserved beginning in January every year. Each camping permit may cover up to 14 consecutive nights. Except for Stockton Presque Isle (campsites 2-16) all permits are for the specific campsite assigned on the permit and are nontransferable. For Stockton Presque Isle campsites 2-16, the permit guarantees a campsite, but specific campsite assignments are not made. These campsites are occupied on a first-come, first-served basis.
Camping is available outside of individual or group campsites on all islands except Devils, Eagle, Gull, Long, Raspberry, and York. Primitive camping zones have been established on 16 islands for visitors seeking a remote backcountry experience with no facilities. Zone camping is NOT allowed within 0.25-mile of any building, any other camping parties; within 100 feet of a flowing stream; or on private lease holdings. Most primitive camping zones have a quota of only one camping party per night. Parties camping in primitive camping zones are limited to a maximum of five campers. Most of the best landing areas already have an individual or group campsite nearby. It may be challenging to find a landing spot when using a camping zone.
For more information or help planning your itinerary, call the park at (715) 779-3397, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., daily from Memorial Day through September or Monday to Friday from October through Memorial Day.
Charges & Cancellations
Cancellations made 8 days or more prior to the reservation start date will be given a 50% refund of the use fees. The $10 reservation fee is non-refundable. Cancellations made 7 days or fewer prior to the reservation start date will not be refunded. Changes to the reservation will be charged a $15.00 change fee. There is a $10 reservation fee for each permit made.
ADA Access: N
This is a private campground located a few miles south of Bayfield. It is oriented towards RV camping but also has tent sites. It is very family friendly with play areas, small store with necessities and snacks. It would be particularly good for families or groups of events who are attending summer events (lectures, concerts, workshops) at the nearby Chatauqua Event grounds; in fact, the campground has a designated Chatauqua shuttle stop stop so you dont have to deal with traffic and parking. It is convenient to the town of Bayfield too, so you could easily do a variety if day trips in the area. The RV campsite loop is a bit open with only small trees and not much privacy between, but many RV campers like that for socializing and interacting with neighbors. There is a quieter shady loop towards the back of the campground that tent campers and others who want more peace and quiet might prefer. Note: you should call ahead to make reservations as spots fill quickly especially in Chatauqua season. More importantly, note that the entrance and office close by 6pm and NO ONE who is not already registered is allowed in, no late arrivals!
My husband and I stayed at the only shoreline campsite one October. There is a nice privy, bear box, fire pit and picnic table. The hike was a bit more challenging with a lot of up-and-down hills. There were a few times we had to hop a steam on the downswing of a hill while hiking to the campsite. The beginning of the hike is beautiful with views that are worth seeing and the more challenging hike comes after the beautiful views. It would be a great day hike if you were not feeling like camping or hiking the hills.
Apostle Islands is part of a 21 islands chain at the northern tip of Wisconsin, on Lake Superior. On the mainland, the Lakeshore Trail weaves past cliffs and sea caves. Most of the islands have trails, beaches. Lighthouses can be found on Sand Island and Raspberry Island. The Lucerne shipwreck is just off Long Island.
Amazing place to kayak but you do have to do your research if you aren’t using a kayak guide. A great place to get more information is: National Park Service Website. I recommend using a sea kayak in these waters.
We kayaked to many campgrounds and islands in the national lakeshore. paddling a total of 60 miles we were able to make it to 3 different island campgrounds. Bathrooms and picnic tables were at most camp sites, some camp sites were very desolate and rustic. No running water on some islands.
we had a wonderful weekend there and saw a few black bears. And one even meandered through our camp site. And enjoyed the sounds of the waves and hiked a few of the trails.
Went kayaking out here and the caves are awesome!!!! So much fun and lucked out having a nice still day!!!
Bring bug spray (or better yet, the Canadian-made Original Bug Shirt Elite Edition) if you plan to camp in the spring/summer months! These beautiful little islands are well-guarded by these blood sucking creatures, especially if the island in which you are camping has any inland ponds or lakes where they will breed/hatch (such as Sand Island). While mosquitoes are typically crepuscular creatures, these don’t wear a watch…they are out all day every day. We stayed on Sand Island, York Island, and visited the beautiful historic lighthouse on Raspberry Island during a 4-day kayaking adventure.
The backcountry camping areas are nice, but not much to speak of other than a place to pitch your tent -- though the islands, views of Lake Superior, paddling/sailing/fishing options, and sunrises and sunsets are truly to die for! Each camping area has a fire ring, bear boxes, a pit toilet, and some of the larger islands have picnic tables. Some islands have small docks, while others are anchor only if you are in a larger boat. All of the beaches can accommodate multiple kayaks if you are with a larger group. Coin operated showers are available at the campground by the Little Sand Bay visitor’s center.
Even though you are only a few miles from the mainland, the small number of people/tourists make this place feel very remote and secluded. Safety Note: Bring a chart of the islands for navigation purposes, make sure your paddling skills match the weather conditions as the lake can go from sheer glass to 6 foot waves in an afternoon, and bring a marine radio.
There are camping areas on 19 of the 21 islands in the park. $15 per night plus a $10 registration fee. You can register for backcountry sites online.
Camped on Sand Island. Kayaked to the island and the next day got to explore the sea caves on the island. There was a nice walking path to the lighthouse, which we were lucky enough to tour!
This place is absolutely beautiful. The camping areas seemed clean and we'll taken care of, we were in a site without trash cans, so we made sure to "pack in, pack out" but this place had soany beautiful rock structures Ali g the lake, and it is fun to bring the canoe or kayak during the summer months, but also adventure around during the winter months as well to see the ice buildup on the cliffs and rocks! I just can't get over how beautiful this place is