Explore Apostle Islands National Lakeshore

Discover the Apostle Islands’ many charms as you enjoy local culture, see a presentation on shipwrecks, learn about the region’s ecology and hear tales of early settlers.
Rating (4.88)
Program No. 12512RJ
5 days
Starts at
5 days
4 nights
12 meals
4B 4L 4D
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At a Glance

Discover the remote Apostle Islands, 22 Lake Superior isles (only one of them inhabited) off the northern tip of Wisconsin. Learn about the history of shipwrecks in this area and board a boat to discover the historic lighthouses that guide ships and boats safely through the sometimes-rough waters. In Bayfield, the small fishing town where this program is based, a National Park Service Ranger tells you more about the environment of this area including which wildflowers are in bloom.
Activity Level
Easy Going
Walking a few blocks on sidewalks; some moderate hills.

Best of all, you'll ...

  • Ride the ferry to Madeline Island (the only inhabited island in the chain) to explore Big Bay State Park with its pristine barrier beach and boardwalk.
  • Delve into the history of shipwrecks near the Apostle Islands in an expert presentation by the retired director of the Lake Superior Maritime Visitors Center.
  • Hear some great tales of how the locals survived in the early years in this beautiful but sometimes harsh environment.
Featured Expert
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Bob Mackreth
Historian Bob Mackreth retired from the National Park Service in 2005 after a 32-year career as a park ranger. His assignments took him from the Atlantic coast to California's Sierra Nevadas. Bob's final position with the NPS was Park Historian at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. In this role, he conducted research into the stories of the men and women who lived on the remote islands in Lake Superior. Since his retirement, Bob has concentrated on research and writing, and remains committed to historic preservation.

Please note: This expert may not be available for every date of this program.

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Sherman Edwards
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Thom Holden
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Geof Wendorf
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Bob Mackreth
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Visit the Road Scholar Bookshop
You can find many of the books we recommend at the Road Scholar store on bookshop.org, a website that supports local bookstores.
The Four Hills of Life: Ojibwe Wisdom
by Thomas Peacock and Marlene Wisuri
The Four Hills of Life tells the wise and beautiful Ojibwe story about the path we walk through the seasons of life, from the springtime of youth through the winter of old age. The hills we climb along the way are the challenges we face and the responsibilities we accept. The path is not always easy; some of us lose our way. We question the meaning of life. But when we walk the Good Path—when we commit to values and fulfill our goals—the meaning of life finds us.
This Superior Place: Stories of Bayfield and the Apostle Islands
by Dennis McCann
Picturesque little Bayfield on Lake Superior is Wisconsin’s smallest city by population but one of its most popular visitor destinations. This book captures those unique qualities that keep tourists coming back year after year and offers a historically reliable look at the community as it is today and how it came to be. Abundantly illustrated with both historical and contemporary images, This Superior Place showcases, as author Dennis McCann writes, “a community where the past was layered with good times and down times, where natural beauty was the one resource that could not be exhausted by the hand of man, and where history is ever present.” Because Bayfield serves as “the gateway to the Apostle Islands,” the book also includes chapters on the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Madeline Island, and the nearby Red Cliff Ojibwe community. It also covers the significant eras in the city’s history: lumbering, quarrying, commercial fishing, and the advent of the orchards visitors see today. It is not a guidebook as such but more of a visual and written tour of the city and the major elements that came together to make it what it is. Colorful stories from the past, written in Dennis McCann’s casual, humorous style, give a sense of the unique characters and events that have shaped this charming city on the lake.
Superior's Jewel: The Apostle Islands Trilogy
by Barb Dimich
A dauntless street sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department, Kat LeNoir possesses courage and confidence until she shoots a man to death in the line of the duty. Follow it up with another near death encounter on a hot city night and Kat suddenly finds herself incapable of serving the citizens or commanding her patrol. There’s only one way out--to resign. Emptied of life, terrified of failure, Kat returns to Madeline Island and discovers island peace shattered by the crosscurrents of her hometown’s first murder and an outsider homicide cop on a two-year search for a killer of sixteen-year-old girls. While it’s clear nothing will stand in his way of catching a crazed killer, especially a lady cop who couldn’t hack it, it’s also clear that his determination and her dwindling courage turn into a battle of wills that can salvage or destroy what’s left of Kat’s pride.
Tales of Bayfield Pioneers: A History Of Bayfield
by Elenor Knight
Tales of Bayfield Pioneers is an exploration of a wonderful past. To read it is to come away with a sense of place. The times, the lives of the pioneers and settlers, the shipwrecks, community spirit, and institutions of a fledgling community on the shores of Lake Superior are meticulously documented for posterity. Eleanor Knight, "provided a new appreciation of local history to the citizens of Bayfield during the Centennial period." Eleanor, the grand-daughter of one of Bayfield's pioneers and captains of industry, William Knight, was one of Bayfield's finest and talented writers and highly qualified to document and record the wealth of historical facts. She has left a legacy for all to enjoy. Now, citizens of Bayfield and the future, together with the Knight family, can share the history of early Bayfield, as written by Eleanor Knight and published in the Bayfield County Press from 1950 through the 1956.
La Pointe: Village Outpost on Madeline Island
by Hamilton Nelson Ross
The Wisconsin Historical Society Press has republished a long-out-of-print classic of Wisconsin history, La Pointe: Village Outpost, by Hamilton Nelson Ross (1889-1957). The book, which first appeared in 1960, provides a 300-year history of La Pointe, a community on Madeline Island, one of Lake Superior's Apostle Islands. With flair, humor, and solid scholarship, Ross tells the story of the region's evolution. Madeline Island served initially as a refuge for the local Ojibwa from their enemy the Sioux before the arrival of French explorers in 1659, then an epicenter of the fur-trade era in the eighteenth century, and finally a summer vacation spot for businessmen and industrialists. Today the island attracts thousands of summer tourists who vastly outnumber the 200 or so year-round residents. Ross first visited Madeline Island from his native Beloit as an eight-year-old, returning again and again over his lifetime to the Ross family cabin in La Pointe. His years of careful study and observation served him well. Ross told the region's story so eloquently that his book helped persuade Congress and the President in 1970 to preserve the islands in perpetuity as the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.

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