Winter Activities Articles

Discover the Park – Activities

Beauty from above: A winter hike on the Lakeshore trail

Beauty from above: A winter hike on the Lakeshore trail

It has been a winter of extremes: the warmest December on record in many parts of the northland, historically low ice coverage on Lake Superior, and then the plummeting temperatures of mid-January. There were windless days on end with the lake barely rippled and then a storm bringing gusts up to 53 miles an hour at Devils Island churning the lake into waves of 12 to 15 feet.There is beauty in extremes, the kind of beauty that can turn a hike into a journey through a landscape of enchantment. Recently, our Executive Director Jeff Rennicke ventured into that enchanted landscape and sent back...

Thin ice: How historically low ice coverage affects Apostle Islands, Great Lakes

Thin ice: How historically low ice coverage affects Apostle Islands, Great Lakes

It's open water - not ice - as far as the eye can see. Not only in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore but across all of the Great Lakes. As of New Year's Day, less than 1% of Lake Superior was ice-covered - a tiny percentage but still the largest percentage of any Great Lake. Combined, ice covered roughly one-third of one percent of the surface area of all of the lakes as of the first of the year; that's the lowest level in 50 years and the percentage is growing very slowly. As you can see on the map from the US National Ice Center, ice on Lake Superior is now mostly confined to the bays...

Cross Country Skiing to Oak Island

Cross Country Skiing to Oak Island

Thick ice and deep snow made for perfect conditions to explore a bit of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. Three local cross country skiers with significant island experience skied from Frog Bay Tribal National Park to nearby Oak Island early this month.National Park Service MapThere, they found several sets of wolf tracks, confirmed by a wildlife biologist who said wolves have been sighted offshore of Red Cliff and the Apostle Islands this winter. Under clear blue skies, they also found some nice ice formations along the shoreline.Like the snow and ice beneath their feet, the wintery...

And the sky danced – northern lights put on a show in the Apostle Islands

And the sky danced – northern lights put on a show in the Apostle Islands

CRACK! The lake ice is restless tonight, crackling out in the darkness like old bones, weakened by wind and warm spring days. But I am safely on solid ground along the mainland portion of the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It is nearing midnight. The stars overhead are as bright as sparks from a campfire. But it is not lake ice or campfires that have me out this late, alone and in the cold. It is what is happening just above the ice: here in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore the northern lights are out.    Northern lights over York Island with a meteor tail on the left - Jeff...

Apostle Islands ice caves remain closed

Apostle Islands ice caves remain closed

BAYFIELD, WISCONSIN (National Park Service) – Public access to the mainland ice caves in Apostle Islands National Lakeshore remain closed due to unstable ice conditions. As recently as February 4, there was open water at the caves, and ice cover on Lake Superior was at record lows. In spite of the recent cold temperatures, most of Lake Superior remains open water and the ice that has formed near the caves is unstable, jagged, and rough, creating high risk conditions. “Ice at the caves is so unstable and jagged that it will not allow safe access by rescue teams using snowmobiles," said Chief...

A promise of spring in the sounds of chickadee

A promise of spring in the sounds of chickadee

Nothing. No tracks but my own stitched into the dusting of fresh snow that fell last night, white as birch bark. No flittering shadows in the trees, not a sliver of bird song in the air. Winter in the Lakeshore. What sun there is this time of year shines weakly, halfheartedly through the white gauze of clouds, offering not even the slightest pretense of warmth. For nearly a week temperatures in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore have barely risen above zero. The mercury seems painted to the bottom of the thermometer. A shiver runs through me as I stomp my feet for warmth and then listen...