Park Service provides FAQs about visiting the Apostle Islands

(National Park Service) To protect public health and safety, all visitors to the park are encouraged to:

  • Stay home if sick and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms- Bayfield County has no hospital and limited emergency services.
  • If an island or dock is crowded, choose an uncrowded destination to visit. 
  • Stay 6 feet back from all other boaters and park visitors in all locations. Maintaining safe distances in areas will result in the ability of popular areas to stay open.
  • Wear a mask when other people are present in centralized areas including docks, restrooms, staircases, and trails.
  • Please use the restroom before your visit to the islands and bring portable waste management supplies on your boats. Un-managed waste creates a health hazard for our employees and for other visitors. Island vaults receive very infrequent cleaning. Boaters need to utilize their on-board heads or carry portable toilets. 
    • Bring hand cleaning supplies including soap/bucket and sanitizer. These items are not available on the islands.
    • Remember islands are home to many black bears. Keep food stored in bear proof boxes or on your boats and keep picnic sites very clean. Take your trash with you when you leave. 
    • Weather & winds on Lake Superior change constantly while water conditions are frigid. Know the forecast and safest destinations before you go. Carry safety equipment for self-rescuing and a marine radio for communications. Cell service is unreliable on the lake. For Apostle Islands wave and wind conditions on Lake Superior weather visit http://www.weather.gov/dlh/anchord . 


Tips to Recreate Responsibly:

We encourage you to follow the guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and follow Leave No Trace principles when you visit.

  • Know before you go. Visit go.nps.gov/ApostleConditions for current park conditions and availability of restrooms and other facilities. Make a plan and if you are sick, stay home.
  • Keep it close. Consider recreation areas near your home to help limit travel. Follow the state, county, & local orders governing the open status of the Bayfield community and Lakeshore.
  • Keep your distance. Recreate with the people in your household. Give others plenty of room whether you are on a trail, at a boat launch, on docks, or in a parking lot. Follow the CDC’s social distancing guidelines for staying six feet away from others. Be prepared to cover your nose and mouth if you’re near others.
  • Know your limits. Postpone challenging hikes & kayaking, or trying new activities while first responders, parks, and communities continue to concentrate on responding to the pandemic.
  • Keep it with you. If you brought it, take it with you. Trash pickup and restroom facilities will continue to be limited in many park areas.

Where do I go to get information after I arrive?

  • The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore Visitor Center in Bayfield and Little Sand Bay Visitor Center will be open as “virtual visitor centers” for the summer. Buildings will be closed to the public, but park rangers will be available by phone and email and some brochures will be available:  
    • Bayfield VC – Daily from 8:30am – 4:30pm, beginning 5/23. 
    • LSB VC – Opening June 20th.
  • The Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center is hoping to provide visitor services later this summer. 

Are there restrooms in the park & are they open?  

  • At Little Sand Bay there are currently no bathrooms or running water available. Bathrooms at Little Sand Bay are scheduled to open on June 20th
  • Vault toilets at Meyers Beach are open and cleaned daily during the summer, as staffing allows. 
    • Running water is not available at this time. Bring your own soap and hand sanitizer to maintain personal hygiene. 
  • Vault toilets or privies can be found near most campsites and docks on the islands. These remote toilets are cleaned infrequently, so should be used at your own risk. Most do not have soap or sanitizer. 
    • Use the toilet on your boat if available. Come prepared to manage your own waste.
    • Running water is not available on the islands. Bring your own toilet paper, soap, and hand sanitizer to maintain personal hygiene.
  • If using the bathroom in the woods, be sure to practice Leave No Trace principles, including proper cat hole use and packing out toilet paper. 

How can I social distance and explore the park?   

  • Avoid crowded areas. If you arrive and it is busy, then simply select a different destination.
  • Photograph attractions from your boat or kayak, including lighthouses and sea caves instead of going ashore. 

Do I need to wear a mask in the park? 

  • Covering your face when around others can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. 
  • Trails, staircases, & boardwalks have people using them in both directions and may be narrow. Try to maintain a 6 ft distance from other people when passing or wait for them to pass, and/or cover your face. 
  • Some areas like bathrooms will have lines. Be sure to maintain a 6 ft distance from others and wear a mask if the area is being used by others.

Can I stay overnight on the islands?   

  • Overnight use of campsites and docks is closed at this time to enable the limited staff to focus on keeping the entire park open for day use and to maintain social distancing in centralized access areas. You can continue to moor offshore overnight. 
  • Check with local Chambers of Commerce for information on drive-up camping on the mainland.

Can I have a campfire in the park?  

  • No. Fire danger is currently high and the park is dryer than most of the county, having missed recent rainfall events.  There are limited staff to respond to wildfires & ensure campfires are fully extinguished.  

What are the safest options for kayaking? 

  • Kayaking on Lake Superior is only recommended for experienced kayakers who are familiar and prepared to paddle on large, open bodies of water. 
  • Inexperienced kayakers interested on paddling Lake Superior…
    • Are encouraged plan a trip with a certified local guide. A list of guides who are authorized to work in the park can be found at go.nps.gov/Outfitters
    • Or consider other areas to paddle, such as inland lakes, rivers, or the more protected shorelines in Chequamegon Bay.
  • Kayakers need to be prepared to self-rescue and for cold water and rapidly changing weather conditions. Visit http://www.weather.gov/dlh/anchord for local wind and wave conditions.
    • Kayakers should have the proper gear for safely traveling on Lake Superior, including a 15’+ sea kayak, PFD, wet/dry suit, VHF radio, etc. More information can be found at go.nps.gov/ApostleKayak.
    • Check out the Sea Caves Web Cam at go.nps.gov/ApostleWaves.
    • Consider closer islands and shorter distances when planning day trips.
    • Have a float plan in place and leave it with someone responsible, anytime you are traveling on the lake. 

How do I visit the islands if I don’t have my own boat?  

  • Apostle Islands Cruises (www.apostleisland.com) will be running this summer with an amended schedule (beginning June 6. Trips throughout the islands will be available. 
  • Water taxi services and sailing charters are available. A list of services who are authorized to work in the park can be found at go.nps.gov/Outfitters

Can I visit the inside of any lighthouses? 

  • Lighthouse interiors are closed due to the inability to socially distance, staff, and clean interiors. Light station grounds are open for day use. 

Where can I visit on the mainland? 

  • Meyers Beach and Little Sand Bay are both open.  
  • Meyers Beach has the trailhead for the mainland trail, a sand beach, and kayak launch point for the mainland sea caves. There is a fee for parking at Meyers Beach. 
  • Little Sand Bay has sand beaches, new outdoor exhibits, kayak launch, a marina, and the Town of Russell boat launch and campground. There are currently no bathrooms or running water available. 
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