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Apostle Islands National Seashore

Monday June 30 and Tuesday July 1, 2014
Apostle Islands Area Campground
Bayfield, Wisconsin

 **This is the second post I’ve put up today in an effort to get closer to “real time”.  If you have not seen the blog about our last fine day in Copper Harbor Michigan, you can read it here.



This morning we pulled out of Copper Harbor, where we have a wonderful time, and started the 218 mile drive to Bayfield Wisconsin and the Apostle Islands National Seashore   Nina, of Wheeling It, recently gave me some good advice about holidays.  She said for holidays just book a private campground and leave the state and national parks to the masses.   It will be quieter in a private park.   I think it’s sound advice and am following it.

We made only one stop, for gas at the Bad River Indians Reservation.  Today regular gas was $3.679.  We find that we are still leaking coolant so that is a priority to figure out while we are in Bayfield. 

There are 4 campgrounds in the Bayfield area if you don’t include Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island.  We had been to Madeline before and found it to be just too touristy for our liking and the ferry is quite expensive so coming back and forth to the mainland to do other things would make no sense. 

In Bayfield, one of the 4 campgrounds was on the Red Cliff Ojibwe Indian reservation about 5 miles north of town.  $35 for full hook ups.  Unfortunately I didn’t know about this one until I got here.  I might well have chosen it.  Although I’ll have to reserve judgment until we see it.  They are having their annual Pow Wow this week-end so I’ll check it out then.  The Pow Wow is another reason I didn’t want to be on Madeline Island.


Site 18

We are paying $34 a night for water, electric, and  a difficult dump station at Apostle Islands National Seashore.  It’s a mom and pop place with a lot of rules and rather condescending road signs.

It has reasonably level sites, pay showers $1.50 and wifi  IF your site is close enough to get it which ours is not but you pay the same rate whether you can use it or not.  We were told when we checked in we probably wouldn’t be able to use it.   No big deal since we’ve found that wifi in campgrounds is iffy at best.  Both our verizon hotspot and cell phone work well here.  I chose this campground site unseen because I wanted to be close to town.  We need to make a grocery run and have a number of projects that may require a hardware and/or auto parts store connection including the coolant problem.. I doubt I would choose it again even though it clearly has many sites filled.  The owner has a bit of an “attitude” IMO. 


Duckie View


There is  another park just outside of town, the town park Dalrymple.   It has electric only 20/30 volts, vault toilets, no showers, no dump station and no reservations.  Sites are $20.  They do have 4 potable water locations and are on the water. 
I didn’t want to have to deal with the where to dump question.

So far, the last possibility is the one I actually like the best, Little Sand Bay is 8 miles from town and on the water.  It is a sweet campground and a wonderful place to stay if you are just going to chill and don’t mind the 14 mile round trip to get pretty much anywhere or need wifi or cell phone.  Neither works there.  But in terms of ambiance, it is my kind of place for sure.



After we get Winnona down the steep hill around a curve on the campground’s gravel road and over the very deep speed bumps, we back her in, get set up and go into town to the Apostle Islands Visitor Center to get information in order to plan our time here. 

The visitor center is located in the old Court House a venerable looking building.  They have a nice introductory film which got cut off at the 2 minutes to the end point when the power went out.  Oh well…………



The National Seashore is the areas in dark blue. There is only one section on the mainland.  There are 22 Apostle Islands and all are only accessible by boat.  We have kayaks BUT our kayaks are not Great Lakes or Ocean kayaks which are a must in both places.  Ours are flat bottom lakes, rivers, streams, wetlands kayaks.   So if we want to do any hiking on the islands or see the sea caves, we will have to rent sea kayaks or take a tour.

We learn that Apostle Islands National Lakeshore contains more historic light stations than any other national park area.  Constructed between 1857 and 1891, they were tended by light keepers for over a century.  They are now automated of course.  There goes the career of Light Keeper.   These two are only visible from a boat since they are all on the islands.





Armed with our information we go down into the little town of Bayfield year round population 488.  The main street, Rittenhouse runs right down into the bay.  The town looks like they make all their income during the two months of summer from the tourists.  The town is cute although one of the major cross streets is all torn up with road work so it isn’t as cute as it might be just now.





We do find the necessary things though, the grocery which had a pretty sad looking produce section, the ice cream shop which had some great looking flavors and the bookstore which also looked like a place I want to check out.  

We met what I guess is the town bird in the park.  He just walked up and posed for quite some time.  He seemed to think we should take his picture so David did.  He was pecking around in the grass between posings though.

















Today is one of those regular chores day.  It’s time to make some plans and go to the grocery.  For the latter we drive back south to Ashland in order to shop at their co-op to get organic produce, unsweetened almond milk and many foods we buy in bulk. They have a really nice mural in their window.

Ashland is a bigger town than Bayfield and thus has more services.  David also needed an auto parts store and at 23 miles away from the campground, Ashland had the closest one.   This is pretty seriously small town North Coast America.




When we return, David checks out all the hoses, works on the coolant leak problem and looks over the visitor center materials to see what we might want to include in our stay here.  

I work on the blog and since we no longer have any set plans or reservations we have no next stop planned.   I investigate the possibilities of going to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area and/or Voyageurs National Park.  Both park websites have high water and flooding alerts so I’m not sure that will happen.  We may just go straight on to Itasca and straddle the Mississippi River.

But today’s highlight was that my  camera came out of the rice bag and although a little bit cranky appears to be working fine.  What a relief.  Tomorrow I’m back to too many photographs.  We have a great hike planned. 


  1. Glad your camera is working! Do you have your dehydrator with you - wonder how that would work for drying out a camera or phone, etc ? Having 'no next stop planned' could make for a fun adventure - hoping it's a good one for you!

  2. Oh so very glad that your camera works! Cranky or not. We spent a short time in Bayfield in 2010 but didn't camp. It is a place I really hope to return someday. Hoping you get on the water while you are there. Those islands look incredibly magical.

  3. As soon as I saw your Apostle Island title my mind said "lighthouses"! Looking forward to some of your pics of that area. Hope the private park works out for you. Following my own advice I'm not sure I made the right choice. We're at a private park, but it's a really tight and busy park...eek! Oh well, can't get it right every time. Glad your camera survived.

  4. I love those small towns, but there isn't usually much in the way of major resupply. It is amazing that after a few days your camera works. I'm sure you are relieved.

  5. Pattison State Park, south of Superior(WI) is a very nice park. The campground is standard, having the swimming beach, grassy average campsites. A tunnel passes under the highway and everything changes for the better. You gotta see it to believe it.

    Don't get too concerned about the flooding. BWCA is by nature a water park, a little more water in the lakes is a good thing. Kayaking in many of the lakes is a possible and accessible. Having been in Copper country, I think that you will understand that any rainfall runs off rapidly. The majority of flooding is around my neck of the woods and it really ain't that bad. I think that if you stayed in one of the more developed state parks along the Northshore, you would really enjoy it. Some to check out are Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock light house(unfortunately cart-in camping only), Tettegouche, Temperance River and Cascade River. Two Harbors, Mn is about 20 miles North of Duluth and has a municipal campground with hookups that I have stayed at.in the past. It is not bad and should be considered. 50 miles of beautiful Hwy 61 separate Two Harbors and Grand Marais. It is this stretch that the previously mentioned State parks are located within. Grand Marais, Mn also has a quite large municipal campground with hookups. I am in love with Grand Marais, It has maintained its charm thru the years. Near the campground is the place to go for permits, maps, and everything that you need to go exploring.

  6. Fiingers crossed that the camera keeps working.

  7. Ely, Mn is another popular destination. Known as the Western entry to the BWCA, it is pretty much devoted to canoe/kayak travel and provides numerous opportunities for exercise. My favorite campgrounds in the area are Bearhead lake State park, Fall lake National forest campground, and South Kawishiwi national forest campground. All have electrical hookups. Be aware that cell phone and wifi will likely only be available in Ely. This is wilderness by any account and you will not regret it. Ely is also the home of the International Wolf center and has a captive pack of wolves. Programs are available for a fee, such as tracking individual wolves with a wildlife biologist, howling for wolves, and others. I have seen wolves up there, often hear them.

  8. Since the local VT state parks can't take big rigs the private campgrounds fill up here for the holidays. Your distance to some real shopping reminds me of when we were trying to change the truck brake, the nearest auto parts was 45 minutes away. Hope the camera keeps working.

  9. Thank the rice gods your camera is recovering! So glad you made the link to the first post or I likely would have missed that great tour. Bummer about the park hosts (maybe they've been dealing with some yucky campers before you - we're not all wonderful people). At least you've got some distance and greenery between the sites......and a Co-Op - yay!! Looking forward to the lighthouses and seeing more of this unique (to me anyway) area.

  10. That sure is a great area. We did not have time to get out to the islands.

  11. Three cheers for a working camera!

  12. love seeing these pictures... I couldn't remember the name of the little towns in that area but when I saw your pictures... I thought I recognized the streets... sure enough... I came to that area from Minnesota ... dagnabbit! I wish I had blogged in 2007... BUT I didn't ...

  13. Love the mural on that coop. Yay that your camera is working! That was a close call!

  14. Love the photo of the Robin...that bird has ATTITUDE;o)) So happy that the camera has recover using the "Rice Diet" and that we continue to see your travels through your eyes!!

  15. If you have a chance, check out Thompson's West End Park in Washburn, just south of you. It's a city park, first come-first served and it's right on the shores of Lake Superior. It's a gem and very reasonable. It's electric only, but 50 amp. You take on water and there's a dump station. There's also an artesian well. I think it was about $20 a night a couple years ago when we were there.

  16. So glad your camera is almost in working order. What a cute little town! Love the 'town Bird' too :-)

  17. Now that the camera is working, hope David finds the coolant leak and fixes it without too much trouble. There are a lot of hoses on these Winnies!

  18. Oh YAY!!!! I'm so happy to hear that your camera has recovered! And I really hope that you guys get out on the water -- the Apostle Islands look like such a unique place to explore. We're counting on you to take us along with you. :-)

  19. Boy, holidays sure get in the way for retired people:) We are trying to think ahead for Labor Day to get a spot. Kind of difficult when you have no clue where you will be.

  20. Yay for the camera!! I'm curious about those condescending road signs ;) That is irritating when people you are paying money to are not gracious and welcoming. Glad you found some of what you needed and organic food in the little towns. Gas up there is about the same as gas here - although, it's been going up lately.

  21. These kind of tiny rural towns can be adorable and frustrating at the same time.


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