East North Central Parks

Planning A Trip to the Apostle Islands

If you love to kayak, then you are going to absolutely love following the next adventure that I am planning.  There are a few places in the United States that I think are absolutely ideal for having a kayaking adventure.  Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota, the Channel Islands in Southern California, and Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan’s Upper Penninsula are some really great spots.  However, my favorite spot to kayak is undoubtedly the Apostle Islands in Northern Wisconsin.

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The Apostle Islands, which are located in Northern Wisconsin on the coast of Lake Superior, has some of the most beautiful coastlines in the American Great Lakes.  The rocky coast, cliffs, and abundant sea caves are breathtaking and a blast to explore by kayak.  I have visited the Apostle Islands in the past, but I have yet to get out on the water to explore the coast and the caves, so I have decided that this summer is the summer to do just that.

Exploring the Apostle Islands

The Apostle Islands is a pretty big region, so there really is a lot to explore in the area.  The Apostle Islands are made up of 22 separate islands, of varying sizes, and each of the islands is different in many ways.  Some, like Madeline Island, are big enough that they actually have maintained roads on them and a ferry service that can take you and your car over to the island.  Others, like Eagle and Gull Islands, are so small that they barely constitute an island.

One thing that all of these islands have in common is that they are fun to explore by kayak.  Kayakers can paddle from island to camp out and explore, which makes the area also one of the most popular camping spots in the American Great Lakes region.  Even if you aren’t planning on getting out on the water in a kayak or boat, there are also some pretty amazing hiking trails on the mainland that allow you to see the beautiful rocky coastline and the sea caves from shore.

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Exploring the Area Sea Caves

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If there is one thing that the Apostle Islands are known for, its scenery that you can see from a kayak or boat while exploring the region.  The main reason this coastline is so beautiful is that it is comprised of rocky cliffs that have some of the most beautiful sea caves built into the cliff sides.  Some of these sea caves are quite small and are just pretty to look at, but others are so large that you can actually kayak into them.  Below is a map that outlines the regions that have the most sea caves in the Apostle Islands.

Apostle Islands Sea Caves Map

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Finding a Tour Company

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When planning my trip to the Apostle Islands, I did a lot of due diligence to find the right tour company and tour to meet my needs.  Not only did I want to find a tour company that has a great reputation that offers highly sought-after tours, but I also wanted to find the right tour for my needs.  As you all know, I am an avid photographer and I really want to be able to photograph the Apostle Island and all their beauty.

For those who are readers of my Art of Travel Photography articles, you know that one of the best ways to enhance your photographs is to take your shots during the Golden Hours of the day.  For this reason, I wanted to find a tour company that offers tours in the evening so that I could get some great sunset shots with the sea caves and the coastline.

The tour company that I decided to use is Lost Creek Adventures out of Cornucopia, Wisconsin.  Not only are they highly rated on TripAdvisor, but they also offer some really fantastic tours.  Their tours range from half-day to full-day, to even overnight tours where you camp out while exploring the Apostle Islands.  They even offer family-friendly tours for those who are traveling with children.  What really interested me was their half-day tour that starts at 4pm that advertises great sunset views.

 

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Photographing the Apostle Islands

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If you have read my Art of Travel Photography articles, you will know that one of the best ways to get the most out of your photography when you are traveling is to be prepared to take photographs at your location when you arrive.  The best way to be prepared is to do your research before your trip.

You don’t need to plan all of the shots that you are going to take, but it is really advantageous to plan at least the sunrise and sunset shots.  You only have a limited amount of time to take your sunrise and sunset shots and you don’t want to be spending a majority of that time fumbling around looking for the best places to take your shots.

Sunrise Shots

When I was doing my planning for my sunrise shots, the first thing I did was use The Photographer’s Ephemeris app to check to see where the sun would be rising in the Apostle Islands on the day of my visit.  If you look at the image below, the yellow line represents the viewing angle for the sunrise on the morning of Saturday, June 29th, 2019.  I wanted to make sure I found a spot that allowed me to get a shot of that sunrise with some beautiful landscape.

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I used both Google Maps and Google Earth to search for places along the coastline near the Apostle Islands that would be a good spot to get the sunrise shot.  I ended up finding a great spot near Ashland, Wisconsin.  There is a short frontage road that takes you down near the lake and it is in the perfect location to capture the sunrise.

Sunset Shots

The next thing I wanted to plan was the sunset shots that I would get while in the Apostle Islands.  This is where choosing the tour that I did comes into play.  The first thing I did was look at The Photographer’s Ephemeris to see if there were sea caves and shoreline cliffs on the Western side of the Bayfield Penninsula that I could photograph from the water at sunset.

Apostle Islands Sunset Shots

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As you can see in the planning images above, I was able to confirm using Google Maps and Google Earth that there are sea caves on the Western side of the Bayfield Penninsula and that they are in a great spot to photograph during a sunset.  Because of this, I decided to book the 4pm half-day kayak tour with Lost Creek Adventures so that I could get some great sunset shots.

Planning the Trip

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Now that I knew what I wanted to see, do, and photograph in the Apostle Islands area, the next thing I needed to do was plan the trip.  The first thing I did was book my tour so that I could make sure I could get out on the water on Saturday, June 30th.  After making my reservation for the tour, I turned to make the logistical plans for the trip.

Day 1

I will be traveling from Milwaukee and plan on leaving right after I finish work on Friday, June 29th.  I will leave and plan on traveling to Ashland, Wisconsin to stay for the night.  This will allow me to get up bright and early on Saturday, June 30th to take the sunrise shots that I planned.

Apostle Islands - Day 1 Map

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Day 2

After grabbing my sunrise shots, I will explore the area and do some hiking during the day.  There are some great hiking trails near the Bayfield Penninsula Sea Caves that I have hiked in the past that I would like to hike again.  I will need to be in Cornucopia, Wisconsin by 3:30pm to get ready for my kayaking tour that starts at 4pm.  It is about a 3.5-hour tour that will finish back in Cornucopia.  I plan on spending another night in the Apostle Islands before leaving the following day.

Apostle Islands Trip - Day 2 Map

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9 replies »

  1. Great planning and a perfect location to kayak.
    You should check out Craig Blacklock Photography. Craig has photographed the Apostle Islands for the National Park Service. Maybe an inspiration for your trip?

    • Thank you so much!!! I will definitely check out his work. I love getting inspiration from other photographers, especially such acclaimed ones 👍

  2. Yay! A post about our stomping grounds!! You have such an appreciation for the Midwest. I always just want to leave, leave, leave on my travels. It’s kinda nice to see a post from a travel blogger about our region, even if I don’t really want to travel locally myself. Everything I tend to read about is far flung locales, so it’s a nice change (I do remember your post about Door County, though, so I know this isn’t the only one.) I’m writing this comment from Beaver Creek, Colorado, where it’s been cold and rainy, so I really hope you have great weather on your trip. Looking forward to hearing about it!!

    • Thank you so much!!! As much as I love far flung adventures, there is so much beauty in our backyards to explore as well. Not to mention, my back yard is a far flung adventure for some.

      Bummer about the rain in Colorado. I hear there was 2 feet of snow in some places out West. I hope you are having fun!

  3. Can’t say I’ve heard of the Apostle Islands but it looks like a pretty area. I’m looking forward to hearing what you think and particularly seeing the photos. Have a great weekend!

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