When spring in the Apostle Islands begins you’ll find that perfect marriage between the tail end of winter and the grand awakening of nature before summer. It is during this season that you can enjoy a bit of the islands before the summer high season takes off and the bugs descend.
Offering something for everyone, it can be hard to find a time that’s best for you. Whether it be the natural beauty of the area, unique shops and stores, beautiful lodging experiences, or any of the other amazing reasons to visit the area; you won’t find yourselves bored.
If spring is the time of the year that you find yourself wanting to make the trip then worry not, there are plenty of things for you that will make the Apostle Islands area an amazing vacation as the weather warms up and the snow melts.
Spring in the Apostle Islands
What to Expect for Weather
Spring in the Apostle Islands can be defined as the months of March, April, and May. During these months, the islands will be waking up from the winter season. Of all the seasons, this is the one that is the most volatile, weather wise.
Especially in the early Spring months, it is possible to still have snow, freezing rain and below freezing temperatures in the Apostle Islands. Lake Superior may still have ice, too. This can be a given in March but it’s not uncommon to have the off snow storm up until May.
That said, when the weather in these months is good, it’s really good and some of the best hiking and kayaking can be done in late April and May before the days get too hot and the bugs are alive. If you’re prepared to dress appropriately, spring can be a beautiful time to enjoy the outdoors in the Apostle Islands.
Temperatures during the spring months will range from highs in the ’60s to lows in the ’20s. As you get into May, you’ll start to see the warmer temperatures remaining more consistent, the grass will be turning green and all of the trees will be putting on leaves.
Best Time to Visit During the Spring Season
You know you want to visit in the spring, but what month? Well, that is dependent on you more than anything. One of the biggest reasons for this is the weather. The area around the Apostle Islands gets rather inclement weather, especially around the winter time.
Knowing this, you will want to consider the weather in your plans, especially since a majority of the things to do in the area revolve around the outdoors. If you like being warm, then definitely shoot for more towards May. However, if you like the colder months, then March might be the best time.
March and April would be the best in terms of opportunities. A lot of the area focuses on ice and snow (ice caves, snowmobiles, etc.) to draw in tourism. By going in the early spring, you have a better opportunity to see some of the colder weather sights without as much of the harsh weather.
In terms of price though, the further away from the winter you go, the more into the first off-season dip before summer you’ll find yourself. With that comes cheaper experiences and overall, it will be less busy, so there would be more opportunities in the way of tours and lodging for you.
It really all comes down to what is important to you. If you are looking for a more relaxing and personal experience that is also on the warmer side, then go for April or May. If you are looking to catch the end of the colder weather without it being as severe or packed, then March to early April is probably your best bet.
Whichever route you go, you’ll have a lot of fun, as there is always something to do and plenty of experiences to have. You’ll easily see why people flock to the Apostle Islands area all year round.
Apostle Islands Spring Highlights
One of the biggest things that draws people to the Apostle Islands area is the amazing natural views. The National Parks Service takes amazing care of the area. Even if you are not normally a nature lover, this area will change that.
To see the area properly, you simply have to follow Highway 11 to the shorefront, just a few miles drive from Bayfield, Wisconsin. Here you can see the National Lakeshore’s visitor centre and plan out all of the exciting opportunities that the National Park Services has to offer.
One of the first things that draws people in when you have the option of doing is experience some of the area’s amazing hiking routes. Along the lakefront are a handful of natural hiking trails that will get your blood pumping with their terrain and the gorgeous views.
Make sure to pack a snack and stop for a while to absorb the scenery of the hilltops overlooking Lake Superior. The spring is one of the best times to go along one (or a few) of these hikes. The foliage is in bloom, the local wildlife is out and the weather is perfect, not too hot or too cold.
If by chance there is still a bit of snow on the ground when you arrive, then make sure to check out the option of snowmobile trails. They’re a great option for those who like nature but want to experience it with a little more speed.
These options (both hikes and snowmobile trails) are also a great opportunity for those who are interested in birdwatching and nature photography. The area around the Apostle Islands has a wide array of local species from bald eagles all the way to black bears, so who knows what you will end up seeing.
Spring Kayaking in the Apostle Islands
If you are interested in athletic adventures like the aforementioned hiking and snowmobiling, then there is another adventurous option for you as well. Kayaking is one of the most popular things to do in the Apostle Islands and can be accomplished by renting a kayak, bringing your own, or joining a guided tour.
Glide across the waters at your own pace, going along the shoreline or even right along with the Apostle Islands themselves. It is from the water you can get some of the best views of the shorelines and the beautiful shapes of the sandstone warped by years of water erosion.
Keep in mind that Lake Superior is more like an ocean than any lake, meaning it can get big very fast. It is also a very cold lake and has claimed people to hypothermia before. Do not underestimate these conditions and be thorough in your planning if you choose to go out on your own, either with your own gear or a rental.
Wet suits are highly recommended year round and spring is no exception. Let someone know where you’re going and always check the weather, wind and local shops before setting out to ensure you won’t get caught in big waves or a quick storm.
Late Spring Boat Cruises
If you don’t think kayaking is up your alley, then there are more leisurely exploits for you to experience. One such option is boat tours. Hop on one of the various charter boats and ride the waves of Lake Superior.
This is much like the kayaking option but far more comfortable. In addition, you get the option of getting some insight into the area from your boat guide and have a much better time taking pictures of the islands and shorelines.
Due to the nature of spring weather fluctuations, you won’t be able to take a boat cruise until mid-May. Even then, the options will be limited to only the Grand Tour option on the morning departure.
This area is also a fisherman’s delight. Whether it’s on Lake Superior proper, or one of the many smaller bodies of water and rivers nearby, there’s a lot of perfect places to cast your line.
The weather varies in the spring so even if you like those brisk mornings or warm afternoons, there will be a time that suits you. There are even a handful of fishing tourneys in the area around this time so make sure to check out any events if you want to test your skills.
Spring Lodging Options
No matter what you choose to do, you will want a place to cosy up at the end of the day. Thankfully, the Apostle Islands area has some unique lodging experiences beyond the usual hotel room.
There is a wide variety to choose from, and one of the plusses of coming in the spring is you should be able to find more availability in the dip between the winter and summer high seasons. You may even be able to find a good deal on pricing as well.
Some of the more luxurious options include a refurbished barn on a hilltop overlooking the lake. This is a great option for a larger group since it has a ton of space. If it’s a small family or fewer people, then there are a series of luxury cabins and even a resort that balance the excitement of the outdoors with the pampering of a modern hotel.
Here you can enjoy an evening by a campfire with s’mores and hotdogs and after the sun sets, move inside to a fully furnished room – the best of both worlds.
If you want to be closer to nature, then there are even great lodging options available for you as well. One such option is one of the area yurts. These small cylindrical tents are still fairly well furnished but offer a simpler approach to lodging. Well setoff from the main path, here you can enjoy a quiet night under the stars by the firepit enjoying nature in some of its purest forms.
If yurting doesn’t sound fun, then you also have what is arguably the most unique option to stay at in the area – a treehouse. Don’t worry though, it’s not the rickety neighbourhood treehouse built out of 2×4’s.
It is also well furnished and balances the comforts of modern living with a more rustic and adventurous take on things. Taking coffee in the morning out on the treehouse’s balconies is something that you definitely won’t forget.
Our Favorite Apostle Islands Spring Activities:
- Kayaking the sea caves
- Late Spring Boat Cruises
- Hiking the trails
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