When summer in the Apostle Islands comes around, one of the first things on people’s minds is vacation! This beautiful archipelago is located on Lake Superior, and it includes a fair amount of Wisconsin shorefront.

In the summer months, the National Park system comes alive, offering you the chance to explore the islands within the archipelago, spend your days hiking and even do some camping.

It’s also a fantastic time to take boat tours, rent kayaks or take the ferry to Madeline Island for some culture and shopping. You can’t really go wrong with a summer visit to the Apostle Islands.

Summer in the Apostle Islands

What to Expect for Weather

David Stock at Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island, Wisconsin
David hiking along the shoreline in Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island

Summer in the Apostle Islands can be defined as the months of June, July, and August. During these months, the islands will be lush, green, and fully awake from the winter season. You can expect warm weather during the day and pleasant temperatures at night.

With this comes insects, pollen, and the occasional summer storm. Due to the nature of Lake Superior, it is always possible to have strong weather, even if the sun is out. This include waves that can make navigating to, from and around the islands difficult.

For the most part, though, this is one of the most reliable times to visit the Apostle Islands and you shouldn’t let a little bit of rain in the forecast deter you from a visit.

Temperatures during the Summer months will range from highs in the upper ’70s to lows in the ’50s. As you get into July and August, you’ll experience the warmest weather but also the strongest storm possibilities.

Best Time to Visit During the Summer Season

There really is no wrong time to visit. No matter what draws you in, you’ll be sure to find something to make your trip worthwhile. When deciding which month in particular to visit the Apostle Islands area, a lot of it depends on you. However, July is arguably the best time in terms of the sheer number of options available.

The weather in July is perfect for most of the things to do. It is in the ’70s or ’80s for most of the month and rarely drops below or goes higher. The nights are cool and perfect for a campfire with friends or even relaxing alone in nature.

The warm days, without being sweltering, allow hiking or kayaking near the cool waters of Lake Superior to be a great use of your time as well. 

Another reason that July is the best time to visit goes back to the subject of the arts. The annual arts festival takes place in July. Here, you will be able to listen to music, see performers and maybe even buy some paintings from some of the best regional artists from all round the midwest.

Even if the arts aren’t your forte, this is when the local flavor is at its highest. You would be remiss to not visit in July, for the weather, the culture and the people you’ll meet. 

Apostle Islands Summer Highlights

Fishing in the Summer Months

One of the biggest draws to the area in the summer is fishing. Whether it’s on Lake Superior or one of the many smaller bodies of water or tributaries in the area, you’ll find fish galore. Lucky for the fishermen out there, the weather in the area during the summer is perfect for fishing.

The air is crisp in the morning followed by nice and warm from midday all up until dusk. So no matter what kind of temperature you prefer to fish in, you’re sure to find a time that’s comfortable for you. 

The area is well known for trout and salmon, as well as bass, walleye, and pike – all of which are plenty active around the summer months. The National Parks Service and the locals take amazing care of the area too.

It’s easy to find a fishing spot where you’re completely absorbed by nature with not a person or sound around other than birds and rushing water. 

All of this creates an incredibly desirable place for fishing enthusiasts to come all year round. There are even a handful of tournaments and contests in the area involving fishing, so make sure to check those out if you’re interested.

Whether you like fishing in a boat, onshore, or want to get in the water and try out some fly-fishing, you’ll find the opportunity to do so.

Boat Cruises

It is during the summer that you have access to boat cruises that leave from Bayfield and tour through the Apostle Islands archipelago. For most people, this is the only way to see some of the islands other than Madeline Island.

People enjoy these tours for the chance to see a few of the famed lighthouses, shipwrecks, cruise around remote islands, and on the days when the seas are favorable, the opportunity to see the beautiful sea caves at Devils Island from the water.

Boat cruises are also a fantastic way to see wildlife in the Apostle Islands. this may include a number of bird species, even bald eagles, fish, and if you’re lucky, a bear along the shores.

Bayfield in the Summer

If you want to take in some of the local experiences, Bayfield is the place to go. It is the local town just a couple of miles from the Apostle Island shorefront. This quaint fishing town is an amazing place rife with plenty of local attractions.

If shopping is your aim, then you’ll be happy to know that there is a wide variety of shops in the area that cater to all types of needs. Whether you’re shopping for local curios, or looking for some gear for your next adventure, Bayfield has you covered. 

One of the major delights in the Bayfield area is the food. Locals enjoy dishes made from freshly caught fish from Lake Superior as well as many other authentic regional dishes. Whatever else you do in the area, make sure you work up an appetite. If you’re out late, there are also some fantastic bars in the area to help keep your nightlife exciting. 

Something that makes Bayfield quite unique is its love of the arts. During the summer, Bayfield is host to quite a few plays and acting troupes. If you too are a lover of the spoken word or want to dip your toe in it, this is the perfect place to experience it.

Summer Kayaking in the Apostle Islands

The Apostle Islands are one of the best places in the United States to kayak. This is due to the stunning sea caves that have formed on the shores of Lake Superior. You can explore them by kayak by bringing your own, renting from an operator, or joining a guided tour.

Once out on the waters of Lake Superior, you’ll be able to paddle by the Apostle Islands proper and see some of the amazing caves and sandstone structures. Make sure to take lots of pictures!

Hiking & Camping on the Islands in Summer

With summer comes the chance to book shuttle service to some of the outer islands in the archipelago for hiking, and backcountry camping. Due to the logistics and remoteness of this, it is only possible during the summer months.

To do this, you’ll need to secure both shuttle transport and an NPS Camping Permit. This is the ultimate in adventure when it comes to exploring the heart of the Apostle Islands and getting off the beaten path.

Hiking on the Mainland

If you want to get your blood pumping and see some breathtaking scenery while you’re at it, then take a look at some of the hiking trails that snake along the Apostle Islands shoreline. This is a beautiful time to hike the Lakeshore Trail that takes you above the Meyers Beach sea caves.

If you want a bit more adventure, then plan to bring some camping gear with you on the trail and set up camp for a night in the NPS campsite for a spectacular view of the sunset over Lake Superior. Then hike back to your car the next day.

Keep in mind that bears do inhabit the forests on both mainland and the islands, so being bear safe is necessary for a successful adventure.

If camping isn’t for you, then the Lakeshore Trail makes a great day hike and allows you a chance to see the famed sea caves from above. Maybe even pack a lunch and picnic at some of the scenic overlooks for a one-of-a-kind view. 

Mainland Summer Camping

The summer months around the Lake Superior area are ideal for camping. Whether you are the type to do so with the luxury of an RV or just under the stars by a campfire, there are opportunities for either. The area being considered a National Park allows for an unprecedented number of natural campsites to persist.

They allow you to feel far from modern life and get back to nature in a relaxing and safe manner. Nights under the stars at one of the many campsites in the area are enough to make all your troubles fade away. Especially if s’mores are involved!

Summer on Madeline Island is Gorgeous

Summer is the best time to pay a visit to Madeline Island, too. It is near the end of May that the island comes to life for visitors, with plenty of opportunities for shopping, eating, and touring.

If you want to stay awhile, the island offers lodging options in LaPointe and camping options in both Big Bay Town Park and Big Bay State Park on the other side of the island.

Our favorite thing to do in Madeline Island is book campsites at Big Bay State Park for a week to enjoy the outdoors by day and then drive into LaPointe for food and entertainment at night. It’s the perfect balance for a Wisconsin getaway!

Apostle Islands Summer Lodging Options

If camping isn’t at the top of your list of ways you like to settle down at the end of the day, then worry not, there are plenty more options for lodging. Especially if you’re looking for a unique experience!

Blending the line between comfort and simplicity, one of the more rare lodging experiences in the area is the yurts. These small, circular tents allow for a cozy and secluded experience in the woods. Don’t worry though, as they are still fairly well furnished and even have an outdoor fire pit and seating area. That way, you can still enjoy your camp-side snacks. 

Another option that shares this balance is the Boulder Ridge treehouses. Here you can feel like a kid again while still enjoying the comforts of a bed and other modern utilities. The sights of the area from this high vantage point are enough to make even the quieter portions of your trip memorable. 

Some of the more conventional places to stay are options as well but don’t mistake conventional for bland. The cabins and resorts of the area are some of the most comfortable and well taken care of that you will find.

Each of them also has a favorable balance of modern utility while allowing the natural beauty of the area to shine. None of the lodging options around the Apostle Islands in summer is a bad choice, it all just depends on what you want to experience on those nighttime hours of your vacation. 

Our Favorite Apostle Islands Summer Activities:

  • Kayaking the sea caves
  • Visiting Madeline Island
  • Fishing on Lake Superior
  • Camping

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