Who would've thought Michigan had such a place!
Trip Start Jul 01, 2011
14Trip End Jul 27, 2011
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Madeline Island, the largest and only island with permanent residents and not part of the National Lakeshore, is a fun and kitchy sailing town easily and cheaply accessible by mainland ferries every 1/2 hour. Outer Island, potentially the wildest, remains virtually pristine having never been logged or otherwise settled. Most of the islands supported fishing settlements - some permanent, most temporary - for small commercial operations. A couple islands were logged for ironwood and oak, others mined for brownstone (ever heard of it? we thought so:). We took a island boat tour (same company as Pictured Rocks and Sleeping Bear) - again, highly recommended (reserve early to get top deck and bundle up!)
We made a good call to stay two nights on the mainland - it allowed us to choose our activities and access them easily. When we come back, we aim to explore one or a few islands, camping along the way, perhaps kayaking between them. It probably won't include Oak Island - it has the highest black bear density of any place in the world (even still, guides say you're not likely to see one unless you're grilling steaks outdoors for too long). Either way, we'd like you to join us! Remember, you don't have to outrun the bear, you just have to outrun us!
Bayfield, it must be said, is a very quaint (Dan doesn't like the word 'cute', but it kind of applies) village which features a good collection of victorian homes, great food, nice people, and a great harbor with myriad options for experiencing the lake and islands (private sailboat charters, fishing charters, kayak tours, shipwreck tours, etc). Madeline Island, among other things (including Big Bay State Park), has Tom's Burnt Down Bar - one of the craziest places we've ever been (and that's saying a lot!). See pics for reasons and don't miss it if you visit the Apostles!