Sea kayaking has become very popular way to travel among the Apostle Islands. Information about kayak outfitters can be obtained by calling Apostle Islands National Lakeshore at 715-779-3397. Two free kayak launch points are located within the national lakeshore's mainland unit. Meyers Beach is a popular spot to begin a tour to the mainland sea caves. A kayak launch is located to the west of the NPS dock at Little Sand Bay. Temporary parking for loading/unloading equipment is located to the west of the NPS visitor center. Long term parking is located in the parking lot adjacent to the Town of Russell campground. The Apostle Islands Cruise Service will transport a canoe or kayak to the islands for a $20 fee. For more information ask for the brochure "Paddling in the Apostles."
Many people come to the Apostle Islands seeking the adventure of exploring the area by boat. Closed-cockpit craft such as sea kayaks have become very popular for travel among the islands. Operating small craft on Lake Superior is fun and exciting, but can also be extremely hazardous when weather conditions become unfavorable. This guide describes conditions that may be encountered as well as preparations paddlers should make for a trip at Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. The most important prerequisite for a safe trip is good judgement. Boaters must know their equipment, know their limits, obtain a current weather forecast, and respect the ever changing Lake Superior environment. A handy reference guide, Paddling in the Apostles is also available in pdf format, 232kb.
Lake Superior is renowned for its cold temperatures, rough seas, fog, and sudden squalls. Boaters should monitor marine weather forecasts and be constantly alert to changing conditions. Average daytime high temperatures range from 60 degrees Fahrenheit in May, to the upper 70s in mid-summer, to the mid-60s in September. Average lows vary from 40 degrees in May, to the upper 50s in mid-summer, to 50 degrees in September. Average water temperatures in May and June are only in the 40s. Even in late summer, surface temperatures rarely exceed 60 degrees, except in protected bays. Average summer winds blow at from 5 to 20 knots with waves of from one to four feet. Winds of 30 to 40 knots and 6 to 12 foot seas are possible.
Sea caves are enticing but can be extremely hazardous in rough seas. Rebounding waves can make boat handling difficult if not impossible. These shorelines do not offer safe landing sites and should only be visited when conditions are calm. It is easy to underestimate distances between destination points. Allow plenty of time to accomplish your intended route. We suggest paddling no more than 10 miles per day for beginners or 15 miles per day for seasoned paddlers. Be sure to inform a friend or relative of your travel plans so that someone will notice if you are overdue. Park rangers and the U.S. Coast Guard monitor marine channel 16. Try to notify a park ranger if conditions force you to change your plans.
Kayak Guides and Outfitters
Did You Know?
Based on a July, 2004 visitor survey, the most common activities that visitors participated in during their visit included sightseeing (80%), walking on beaches (66%), and photography (57%).