Saturday, May 14, 2011

Hiking Apostle Islands National Lakeshore and the Upper Midwest

Days: 27
Miles: 5,600ish
Location: Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, Wisconsin
Calm waters on Lake Superior
So I have finnished up the last part of my journey through the Great Lakes of Michigan and Wisconsin! This has been a much more relaxed part of the trip; I'm just hiking and hanging. Both of these locations offer some epic kayaking adventures but I've spent enough money on this trip. Hiking opportunities are not as great, but it is nice to simply wander along the shores of Lake Superior.

Apostle Islands was my destination for Wisconsin. Surprisingly, most Wisconsiners have never been to this place! It is very picturesque- there are dozens of islands along the shore with massive sea caves and pleanty of campsites. This is a true destination for kayak touring and there are several companies that will outfit you. Perhaps on another trip I will take full advantage of this! I'm already sold on coming back out to the Northern Midwest.

Honestly, I didn't do much in Wisconsin which is unfortunante. There was one land based hiking trail along the beach to see the sea cliffs. The cliffs were interesting, but obviously better viewed from a kayak.
Sea Cliffs on the shore
This is an extremely friendly part of the country! The rangers were all happy to assist me in learning about whats available and the town of Bayfield was welcoming. I actually got to take a shower at the community center! Its very typical of the midwest to have a YMCA-like community center that is primarily a workout facility but also serves as a gathering place. Everyone meets here; Veterans, Boy Scouts, 4H, swim lessons, environmental groups, art clubs ect.

I also was able to visit the museum of the North Great Lakes. This was a well put together museum with hundreds of exhibits and mounted animals. This area of the country is very rural, yet conservation-minded. It seemed like a healthy medium of conservation because there are hiking trails everywhere, ski resorts, snowmobile trails, businesses and farms but also community-wide efforts to keep the area beautiful. (much different from attitudes towards conservation in California)

This road trip really has been a huge lesson in the different cultures of the United States. People have very skewed ideas of the Midwest and its often lumped into blanket opinions. In reality, the Midwest is like a "Little-Europe" and each town has deep roots in European cultures. Traveling from one town to another is like traveling from one country to another in Europe. Its not an exact replica; each culture has evolved over time.It is funny how one town can be mostly Italian and Catholic and then three miles away is a town that's mostly German and Protestant and then there's another town on the same road that's entirely Scandinavian . That's essentially how much the midwest was settled!

Almost everyone I've met has been extremely welcoming towards visitors, even weird Californians like me!


  1. Hi Joe!

    I was just reading about your roadtrip around the Midwest. It sounds like a great experience! I loved your comparison of Midwestern towns to Little-Europe, because that is very true, they all have such very different cultural feels to them! What were some of your favorite spots along the way? I am the social media coordinator at Midwest Living magazine and we are having a Facebook contest called, “My Best Midwest Getaway Contest,” which invites people to share stories of their favorite vacations anywhere in the Midwest, or one their dreaming of, for a chance to win $2,000 in prizes. If this is something you’re interested in you can enter one of two ways: or on our Facebook page,

    Please feel free to contact me with any questions at

    Hayley Mason
    Social Media Coordinator
    Midwest Living magazine
    Meredith Corporation

  2. Its nice to see an outsider view of the Midwest and I also like your comparison to Europe. So true that there are strong European influences tucked into these little Midwestern towns. Looks like the Apostle Islands trip was a great trip. We just returned from there and love this area.