Four kayakers from the Midwest (2 Iowa residents, 2 Nebraska residents) decided to take a week to explore the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.
Since we had paddlers in our group who had never experienced such open water paddling, we decided to take a more conservative route for a first visit.
Our plan was to paddle the three miles out to Sand Island, spend a couple of days there, then explore Raspberry Island's lighthouse. Then, spending a couple of days at Oak Island before returning via York Island campsite for our final night.
Sand Island's lighthouse is accessible by an inland hiking trail. This time of year (August), it was under construction, but it was still a grand vista, and a perfect place for a picnic. A nice grove of wild blueberries is reportedly there.
Raspberry Island also has a wonderful vista, and a scenic lighthouse that is as impressive from the water as it is up close.
Oak Island includes a patch of cultivated wild raspberries and thimbleberries during August. These can be found via a hiking trail inland toward the park ranger's cabin.
As with any visit to the Apostle Islands, wetsuits are mandatory, as are good rescue skills. During a small-craft advisory (3-4 ft seas), we paddled out to the Sand Island sea caves to take a look, and had two of our paddlers capsize. Rescue practice came in handy as we had to do a rafted paddlefloat rescue for one paddler, and a motorboat arrived in time to aid in rescuing the other capsized paddler whose boat was swamped with water.
VHF Marine radio (with weather radio) is mandatory for this area. The wind and weather can change quite suddenly. You might encounter conditions as clear as glass, or 4-6 foot seas are not uncommon during small-craft advisory conditions.
$10 a day camping fee, payable to US National Park Service in Bayfield, WI. Reservations for campsites begin 60 days in advance of trip.
13 miles North of Bayfield, WI. Take Little Sand Bay road off State Road 13. Follow road to the visitor center. Ample parking near the sandy beach putin.
National Geographic TOPO software for piloting maps,
Natl Geographic foldout maps for more detail.
- Trip Duration: 2-3 Day Trip, Extended Trip
- Sport/Activity: Kayaking
- Skill Level: Intermediate
- Water Type: Flat/Sheltered Water