While these islands recently made the news thanks to the harsh weather and thick ice allowing visitors for the first time in 5 years, the opportunity to explore the sea caves on foot, generally visitation on these islands is more popular with the heat of summer. The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore was established in 1970 to preserve the wild and beautiful islands situated off the coast of Wisconsin in Lake Superior.
Almost completely located within Ashland County, Eagle, Sand and the Raspberry Islands are actually part of Bayfield County. The Apostle Islands are a group of 22 islands, 21 of which are part of what is now Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Considered the spiritual home of the Lake Superior Chippewa, the islands were named the Apostle islands by Pierre Francois Xavier de Charlevoix who named them after the 12 apostle of the Bible.
Known for their coastal beauty, the islands are also home to over 800 plant species, some of which are considered endangered or threatened as well as a number of forest types, diverse ecosystems and many birds and animals as well. The Apostle Islands are also known as home to some of the best examples of sea caves in the Great Lakes. Actually caves which are carved out of the stone due to the movement of the water, these caves are popular for kayakers in the summer months. During the winter, the caves will occasionally freeze and visitors are able to walk in these caves on foot to see frozen waterfalls, millions of icicles and in some cases down to the bottom of the cave as the water/ice is quite clear.
Nature may be the star of the show for most visitors to the Apostle Islands however, a long Native American history and a long maritime history offer ample opportunities to learn more about the cultures and society’s which have lived in and around these islands for thousands of years.
Area lighthouses including the Sand Island Lighthouse, represent some of the islands’ most popular historic attractions. This lighthouse in particular has a long history. Still in service today, it was built in 1881 and was automated in 1921. Guided tours of the lighthouse are available. Other lighthouses are located on various islands throughout the Lakeshore as well including the Old Michigan Island Lighthouse, the Devils Island Light Tower and many more. These lighthouses are the stars of a festival which is held each fall in the area. 2014 represents the 18th annual Lighthouse Celebration taking place September 3 – 20, 2014. Find out more about this at Lighthouse Celebration.
Whether for history, nature or both, The Apostle Islands represent a world still virtually unchanged from long ago. Be inspired and explore the worlds’ lesser known destinations when you travel.
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