Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ~ #1

We have settled for a week at the Thompson West End City Park in Washburn, WI, looking out onto the majestic Lake Superior.  This lovely park sits on the outskirts of Bayfield, the doorway to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore.  It is a great city park, big-rig friendly with 50 amp service and cable TV.  There are several artesian wells within the surrounding area and one of them is flowing right at the park.  Cold, clear delicious artesian water is just a few steps away!

The is my first visit to Lake Superior so I thought I would provide a few interesting facts:

Surface Area:  *31,700 square miles          Avg. Water Temp:  40° F

East-West:  382 miles                                  North-South:  160 miles

Volume:  3,000,000,000,000,000 (quadrillion) gallons of water

Lake Superior has more water in it than all the other Great Lakes combined.  It is the largest freshwater lake in the world based on surface area*.

Immediately upon settling into our site, we saw a beautiful large bird in the tree next to us, with a most unusual sound.  We were treated to the greeting of a pileated woodpecker.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is a group of islands sitting within Lake Superior in northern Wisconsin.  The name was given to these islands by the historian Franςois Xavier de Charlevoix, who named them after the 12 apostles, even though there are 22 of them!  The islands are the spiritual home of the Lake Superior Chippewa.

Madeline Island Ferry

We decided to take a trip over to Madeline Island but before hopping on the ferry, we were able to spend a little time exploring the town of Bayfield.  It is home of the headquarters for the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and was constructed from rock quarried from the islands before they were made into a park.  The local Holy Family church was built from this same brownstone.

The Rittenhouse Inn, Wisconsin’s first B&B, built in 1975, is an elegant structure, having the reputation as one of the great Country Inns of North America.  It has a huge wraparound veranda and views of Bayfield Harbor and the Apostle Islands beyond.

Bayfield Harbor with Rittenhouse Inn in Background

The seasonal festivals in Bayfield are ranked among the nation’s finest, particularly the Bayfield Apple Festival, drawing roughly 40,000 visitors annually.  This year, October 7-9 they are celebrating their 50th anniversary and we wish we could be here for the festivities.  This festival is listed as one of the Top Ten Autumn Festivals in North America by the Society of American Travel Writers.  Other highly supported festivals occur here year-round.

Madeline Island, largest of the Apostle Islands archipelago, was named after Madeline Cadotte, daughter of Chief White Crane and wife of fur trader Michael Cadotte.  It has been inhabited by Native Americans, missionaries, and fur traders, and has flown the flag of three nations over the past 400 years.  The town of La Pointe, population of 272, occupies a space on this island, as well as Big Bay State Park.

Madeline Island View from Ferry
Terry on Madeline Island Beach
Funky Restaurant in La Pointe

Bayfield, the berry capital of Wisconsin, is home to the largest organic blueberry farm in the state, the largest raspberry producer in the state, and offers the biggest variety of berries that you will find most anywhere.  We were too late for the berry season but just in time for apple season.  With more than a dozen orchards/farms around the Bayfield area, we spent a day touring the countryside and many of the orchards.  We also scheduled a tour to the Raspberry Island Lighthouse and took a hike that gave us some great views of the sea caves.   I will talk about these in upcoming posts.

3 thoughts on “Apostle Islands National Lakeshore ~ #1

  • Love this post. I haven’t seen a pileated woodpecker since I left Pollock Pines, California; fascinating birds. I love the looks of that bed and breakfast. I really respect cities/towns that have restrictions that require that anything new has to look like the rest of area. If that is not the case, then I respect the owners for having the good sense to build it like that. It is beautiful. It looks like you are having great weather. Your planner and photographer is doing a great job in selecting your locations and you are doing a great job keeping us informed. Thanks.

  • 1. that is some funky restaurant! did you eat there?
    2. i notice that terry has no more than the toes of one foot in lake superior. was that 40 degree temperature holding him back? i had no idea it was that cold. jeez

    love the pictures, love the commentary. it’s like we’re travelling with you

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