Photo above: Honeymoon Rock at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Courtesy National Park Service. Photo right: Raspberry Island Lighthouse. Courtesy National Park Service.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
You'll want to head first to one of the four Visitor Centers that can help you orient to the history, recreation, and how to get around the park aspect of Apostle Islands. To view by tour or your own watercraft, that's just what you have to do. The islands in Lake Superior are surrounded by islands. Islands here. Islands there. And lighthouses that guard them. Don't miss out of the spectacular nature of this Wisconsin lakeshore; take a guided tour, either by ranger, or on one of the official shuttles. It's the only way to get a real grasp on just what this island puzzle is all about.
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Apostle Islands Then
Of course, there was a whole lot of history here long before it became a water haven for tourists. Its said that the earliest
settlers, non-European, were the Anishinaabe around 950 AD. The Ojibwe would use the islands in other ways as the centuries passed; copper was prevalent in the area, rice cultivation by boat, and fishing. Other tribes would move west, becoming part of the Ojibwe nation, which controlled most of the Lake Superior region.
The first contact with Europeans in the area came in 1640 when French traders arrived and made settlement a La Pointe, becoming an official fort and trading post in 1693.
War would come with the United States as the Ojibwe, under Chief Buffalo, participated in Tecumseh's War at first, then was convinced that by treaty and peace he could further the Ojibwe cause. The American flag was raised in the region in 1816. Chief Buffalo spent his entire life fighting over lumber and other commercial interests there that pushed his people off the islands and into reservations.
As shipping of these goods became the goal of the European traders, the construction of the Apostle Islands lighthouses, would emerge, particularly after the St. Lawrence Seaway connected Lake Superior to the east. Six of them still exist and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Michigan Island Lighthouse, two, built in 1857. One each were placed on Raspberry Island in 1862, Outer Island Lighthouse 1874, Sand Island Light in 1881, and Devils Island Lighthouse in 1891.
Photo above: The landing at Devil's Island, 1898, Detroit Publishing Company. Courtesy Library of Congress. Below: Archway at Swallow Point in winter. Courtesy National Park Service.
Apostle Islands Now
There's twenty-one islands inside the National Lakeshore, only Madeleine was left out. That's Stockton, Gull, Eagle, Outer, Oak, Sand, Basswood, Bear, Michigan, Hermit, Cat, Otter, Manitou, Rocky, Long, Ironwood, York, Raspberry, Devils, South Twin, and North Twin Islands. Wonder what Madeleine did to them.
You can go to the beach on the mainland at Meyer's Beach, which is at the southwest end of the park or you can grab an island shuttle and explore all around the park. You can visit six lighthouses, watch films in the visitor centers, and take a bunch of hikes. Don't forget all that boating denotes; fishing, scuba diving, and exploring the nook of the islands is a treat.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
Things You Should Not Miss
1. First off, visit one of the Visitor Centers mainland to get a handle on just what the islands offer, how to get to them, and visit the exhibits and films there to see. And if there's a mainland ranger tour, they're always great.
3. Take a tour of the islands by water. If you don't have your own boat or kayak to make the rounds, use the Apostle Islands Cruise service, or one of the local outfitters, and take a cruise. Yes, it's gonna be expensive. They range from $47.95 and up for adults; $28.95 for children (6-12); under 6, $1.00.
2. Take a hike. For many, its the trails that draw them to Apostle Islands, and with fifty miles of trails on the mainland, you don't always have to boat there. There's the Lakeshore Trail from Meyers Beach, trails that lead to old farms, lighthouses, and old logging camps. Ask at the visitor center which scene you'd like to hike to. On the islands, the trails are spectacular, too. Watch out for the black bears on Stockton islands; there's the highest concentration of black bears there than anywhere else in the USA. If its winter, there are Ice Caves to visit and a variety of other activities on the mainland side of the park.
Photo above: The Sphinx Rock formation at Apostle Islands, 1898, Detroit Photographic Co. Source Library of Congress.
T-Shirts and Souvenirs
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore T-Shirts and Gifts from the official souvenirs of America's Best History. Great for Wisconsin nature, national park, and heritage history fans.