Kayaking Adventures Await At This Underrated Midwest National Park

On the rim of Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wisconsin, the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is home to 21 beautiful islands prime for adventurers and nature enthusiasts. This remarkable national park, often overlooked amid America's long list of natural wonders, offers a lush wilderness, historic lighthouses, and a diverse array of wildlife. Its pristine waters and awe-inspiring network of sea caves present an unparalleled kayaking experience, making it a must-visit destination for paddling enthusiasts.


As you embark on a kayaking journey through the Apostle Islands, you'll be greeted with awe-inspiring views of sculpted rock formations and secluded beaches. Each of the islands in this archipelago holds its own unique charm, with opportunities to explore untouched forests, observe a variety of bird species, and even camp under the stars on remote beaches. The crystal clear waters in addition to the islands' captivating beauty, create a tranquil yet adventurous atmosphere, perfect for both seasoned kayakers and beginners alike.

The best kayaking at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore offers some of the best kayaking in the Midwest. Among the most popular routes is the journey around the Mainland Sea Caves, accessible from Meyers Beach. This route takes kayakers along a stunning coastline adorned with naturally sculpted sea caves, arches, and tunnels. The paddling experience here is mesmerizing, especially in calm conditions when adventurers can glide safely into the natural caves.


Another notable route is the paddle to Sand Island, known for its own set of striking sea caves and a historic lighthouse. The journey to Sand Island is about one and a half to two hours to reach fromĀ Little Sand Bay, making it a perfect choice for those looking for a moderate challenge. For an even more serene experience, kayakers can head to the waters surrounding Madeline Island, the only inhabited island in the archipelago. Here, kayakers can enjoy leisurely paddles along sandy, quiet shores.

Additional outdoor adventures at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

While kayaking is king in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, there are a plethora of other outdoor activities to take advantage of while you're there. Hiking enthusiasts will discover a variety of phenomenal trails throughout the islands' diverse ecosystems. The Lakeshore Trail on the mainland, for instance, is a moderately challenging hike offering a scenic retreat through dense forests, past views of Lake Superior, and beside the occasional sea cave. For those interested in history, many of the islands are home to historic lighthouses open to the public, such as the one on Raspberry Island.


Additionally, the park features a handful of established campsites. Many of these are secluded, remote spots accessible only by kayak or boat. However, there is a site on the mainland that can be reached by hike. If you're really hardcore, there are a variety of zoned sections in the park that permit primitive camping. In addition to hiking and camping, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a gold mine for bird watchers. The islands serve as a habitat for a variety of bird species, making it an ideal location for birding.