Wisconsin: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore + Bonus MIchigan Roadside Art Park

A scant 36 hours in Wisconsin yielded exactly one stop, but it was a beauty!

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is like a National Park, but on water.  It is overseen by the National Park Service, just like its land-based brethren.

The Apostle Islands include 21 mostly uninhabited islands off the coast of Bayfield, Wisconsin.  Philip is pointing to our RV camping spot; all the islands to the right and above are the Apostles.

Bayfield is known for its concentration of apple trees and berry farms.  It is also known for its concentration of couples in love, crowding every available city park bench.

Apostle Islands also has the largest and most complete concentration of historical lighthouses and light towers in the country.

A tour boat took us out for an up-close view of the sea caves and rock formations.  The rock on the right below is called “Honeymoon Rock,” probably referring back again to all those hand-holding couples on the park benches.

If you are a solitary soul, the National Park Service will pay you to live out here and keep an eye on things!  Pay is $0.50 per day … no joking.  You get a free boat ride to the island of your choice and nothing else, including no cell service.  Ummmm …. no thanks. But isn’t it beee-yooo-ti-ful?

Though we did not spot any from the water, the Apostle Islands has one of the greatest concentrations of black bears in North America, making me unlikely to tent camp there anytime soon.  They “count” the bears every 5 years or so by erect two poles wrapped in barbed wire and putting a yummy smelling bear treat in between the poles.  When the bears run against the barbs as they go for the food, it captures fur or skin cells or other DNA from each and they can count them this way.

Beyond the commercial tour boats, you could also charter a private boat to take you out and launch you in a small motorboat to go all the way inside the caves.

In the winter, for a few weeks in this area, Lake Superior freezes so solidly than an “ice road” is viable to Madeline Island, the one nearby island that is inhabited.  They just throw up a bunch of orange cones to mark the road across the ice, and off you go!  Being the start of summer, we had to settle for gorgeous spring blooms instead of ice roads.

Bayfield was just a charming as could be, but we’re saving the rest of Wisconsin for a future trip when we have more time to explore the entire state thoroughly.

As we journeyed from Wisconsin to our next stops in Michigan, we stopped along the way at Lakenenland Sculpture Park.  Tom Lakenenland has constructed over 80 unique metal sculptures over many years, and maintains them in a kind of one-man-show, free-to-visit sculpture park not far from Marquette.

Visitors can drive through or walk the 1/2 mile road, lined with artwork which ranges from beautiful to humorous to political, but all of it moving and thought provoking.

Some of the art is whimsical. 

Some of the art is interactive.

Some of the art is huge.

Some of the art was especially creative.

Some of the art made ya wanna get up and boogie.

 Some of the art was very colorful.

Some of the art is incredibly detailed.

Some of the art makes you LOL.  Poor Peaches!

Lastly, a fair percentage of the art (and, in our opinion, the most interesting) makes a political statement.

And ALLLLLLL of the art was fun, because you got to interact with all of it as you wandered the property! Next, we are exploring parts of Michigan for two weeks!

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