Primitive Camping Zones

Camping is available outside of individual or group campsites on all islands except Devils, Eagle, Gull, Long, Raspberry, and York. Primitive camping zones have been established on the rest of the islands for visitors seeking a remote backcountry experience with no facilities. Camping zone maps are available at the headquarters visitor center and in the text below.

Only one camping party will be allowed per night in most camping zones. More than one camping party per night may be allowed on Oak, Outer, and Stockton islands. Parties camping in primitive camping zones are limited to a maximum of five campers. They should use backpacking stoves for cooking and practice "Leave No Trace" camping techniques.

A fee of $15/party/night will be charged. An additional reservation fee of $10 is charged for each camping trip. To reserve a primitive camping zone go to recreation.gov or call the Bayfield Visitor Center at 715-779-3397 extension 2 for more information.

The following areas are CLOSED to camping:

  • Areas excluded from primitive camping zones and closed to camping to protect sensitive natural and cultural resources.
  • Areas posted as closed to protect bird nesting areas and threatened or endangered species.
  • In view of any designated trail.
  • Within 1/4 mile of any building, historic structure, individual or group campsite.
  • Within 100 feet of a flowing stream.
  • Private land or lease holdings.
  • All of Eagle and Gull Islands.
 
 

Islands with Primitive Camping Zones Navigation

A map of Basswood Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Basswood Island

NPS Photo

Basswood Island


Wiigobiish-minis (Basswood Island) is located 4 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 1,910
Square Miles: 3.1 square miles
Length:
3.3 miles
Width: 1.2 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 7.8 miles
Elevation above Lake: 188 feet

The no primitive camping zones are located 1/4 mile around the dock on the west side of the island near camp sites 5 & 6, 1/4 mile around the southern tip of the island near campsites 1-4, and a one mile stretch along the loop trail on the southeast side of the island. The entire west and south side of Basswood consists of a steep clay bank and boulders, with the exception of 0.25 miles of gravel beach located on the west side docking area. The north and east side of the island is made up of sandstone boulders. There is one small sandy beach with boulders located in the middle of the island on the east side.
 
A map of Bear Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Bear Island

NPS Photo

Bear Island

Makwa-minis (Bear Island) is located 14 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 1,824
Square Miles: 2.8
Length: 2.5 miles
Width: 1.7 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 6.8 miles
Elevation above the lake: 233 feet

There are no official camp sites on Bear Island, and the no primitive camping area is 1/4 mile along the sand spit on the southeast corner of the island. Bear Island consists mostly of clay banks with boulders. Another small sand beach area is located on the northeast side approximately 1 mile south of the northern most tip that boaters can access.
 
A map of Cat Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Cat Island

NPS Photo

Cat Island

Gaagaagiwanzhikaag-minis (Cat Island) is located 18 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 1,342
Square Miles: 2.1 Miles
Length: 3.0 Miles
Width: 1.1 Miles
Miles of Shoreline: 8.6 Miles
Elevation above Lake: 81 feet

The no primitive camping zone is located at the southern tip of Cat Island a 1/4 mile around the sand spit and official campsite 1. The second sandy beach that is ideal for kayakers is located on the northeast side of the island, approximately 1.25 miles south of the northern tip. The third sand beach with boulders is located approximately 1.5 miles south from the northern tip on the western side of the island. The rest of the shore line is a mix of claybank and sandstone boulders.
 
A map of Hermit Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Hermit Island

NPS Photo

Hermit Island

Eshkwegwindeg-minis (Hermit Island) is located 7.5 miles from Bayfield. Hermit has no dock.

Acres: 733 miles
Square Miles: 1.2 miles
Length: 1.8 miles
Width: 0.9 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 3.9 miles
Elevation above Lake: 176 feet

While there are no official campsites on Hermit Island, primitive camping is still permitted on a 1/2 mile stretch of clay banks with boulders near the historic rock quarry on the southern side of the island. There is a 0.75 mile sand beach with boulders on the southeastern portion of the island that boaters can access. Two smaller sand beaches with a 0.75 mile cobble & gravel beach connect the two on the northwest shoreline. The rest of the island shoreline is sandstone and clay banks with boulders.
 
A map of Ironwood Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Ironwood Island

NPS Photo

Ironwood Island

Gaa-maananoonsikaag-minis (Ironwood Island) is located 16 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 659
Square Miles: 1.0 miles
Length: 1.3 miles
Width: 1.1 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 4.0 miles
Elevation above Lake: 78 feet

The no primitive camping zone encompases a 0.5 mile shoreline on the southern end of the islands sandy beach area. On either side of the southern sandy beach is sandstone and clay banks. A second small sandy beach is located in the middle of the island's eastern shoreline. A small rock ledge lies 0.75 miles north of that sandy. The majority of the island shoreline is claybank and sandstone.
 
A map of Manitou Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Manitou Island

NPS Photo

Manitou Island

Manidoo-minis (Manitou Island) is located 12 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 1,363
Square Miles: 2.1 miles
Length: 2.7 miles
Width: 1.0 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 7.1 miles
Elevation above Lake: 128 feet

There are three no primitive camping zones located on Manitou Island. The first one is a 1/2 mile of shoreline around campsite 1. The second is a 1/2 mile of shoreline on the southwest corner near the volunteer NPS living quarters, and the third is around the historic Manitou fish camp on the southern corner. The best place for boaters to access Manitou Island is small sand beach north of the dock and volunteer headquarters. The majority of the island is clay banks and sandstone.

Be Aware: Watch for the shallow reef that connects Little Manitou rock to Manitou Island located 0.75 miles off the dock in the southwest corner of the island.
 
A map of Michigan Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Michigan Island

NPS Photo

Michigan Island

Bagidaabii-minis (Michigan Island) is located 16 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 1,578
Square Miles: 2.5 miles
Length: 3.5 miles
Width: 1.1 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 8.3 miles
Elevation above Lake: 93 feet

The two no primitive camping zones on Michigan Island are located a 1/4 mile around campsite 1 and a 1/4 mile around the lighthouse station and dock. The lighthouse station sits on a steep clay bank with boulders. The best place for kayakers to access Michigan Island is the sandy beach on the western point. The majority of the island is composed of clay banks with boulders.

 
A map of North Twin Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
North Twin Island

NPS Photo

North Twin Island

Miskwasinikaa-minis-igaaning (North Twin Island) is located 22 miles from Bayfield. There is no dock on North Twin.

Acres: 175
Square Miles: 0.3 miles
Length: 1.2 miles
Width: 0.3 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 2.6 miles
Elevation above Lake: 38 feet

You can primitive camp anywhere on North Twin Island, but it is not easy to access by boat. The very southern tip of the island's shoreline and all the way up the east side is clay banks with boulders and sandstone. There is a 0.25 mile cobble beach with boulders on the south west side and the remaining northern shoreline consists of sandstone and a rock ledge at the northern most point.
 
A map of Oak Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Oak Island

NPS Photo

Oak Island

Mitigominikaani-minis (Oak Island) is located 10 miles from Bayfield and 10 miles from Little Sand Bay. Oak Island has the highest elevation of all the Apostle Islands.

Acres: 5,078
Square Miles: 7.9 miles
Length: 4.0 miles
Width: 2.5 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 11.7 miles
Elevation above Lake: 479 feet

The no primitive camping zones are all 1/2 mile of shoreline around the official campsites, the NPS ranger station, and the dock. Oak Island shoreline is very diverse. The best place for kayakers to access the island is the four sandy beaches scattered along the shoreline. The first stretch is 1/2 mile long north of campsite 4. The second and third are on either side of campsite 6, and the fourth is 0.75 miles of shoreline on the southeastern corner. The remaining shoreline is a majority of clay banks with boulders.

 
A map of Otter Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Otter Island

NPS Photo

Otter Island


Anweshin-nigig-minis (Otter Island) is located 14 miles from Bayfield and 14 miles from Little Sand Bay.

Acres: 1,333
Square Miles: 2.1 miles
Length: 2.0 miles
Width: 1.3 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 5.8 miles
Elevation above Lake: 138 feet

The no primitive camping zone is a 1/2 mile of shoreline located at the southern tip near campsite 1 and the dock. Otter Island is hard to access with a kayak. The majority of shoreline is clay banks with boulders and sandstone. The trail running through the island ends on the north side on a small rock ledge.
 
A map of Outer Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Outer Island

NPS Photo

Outer Island

Gichi-ishkwaayaan-minis (Outer Island) sand spit is located 24 miles from Bayfield and the lighthouse is 28 miles.

Acres: 7,999
Square Miles: 12.5 miles
Length: 7.0 miles
Width: 2.8 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 16.8
Elevation above Lake: 268 feet

The two no primitive camping zones on Outer Island consists of 4 miles of shoreline on the southern sand spit near campsite 1 and 2.5 miles of shoreline on the northwest corner including the lighthouse and dock. Just east of the lighthouse is a 0.75 mile sandy beach with boulders. The majority of Outer Island is hard to access by kayak and is made up of clay banks with boulders and sandstone rock ledges.


 
A map of Rocky Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Rocky Island

NPS Photo

Rocky Island

Ziinsibaakwado-minis (Rocky Island) is located 18 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 1,100
Square Miles: 1.7 miles
Length: 3.1
Width: 1.0 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 7.9 miles
Elevation above Lake: 99 feet

The no primitive camping zone is a 1/4 mile around campsites 1-5 on the southeastern side of the island, which encompasses over 2 miles of the southeastern shoreline. North of the official camp sites there is 1.5 miles of sandy beach shoreline that is accessible to boaters. Another sandy beach accessible on Rocky is in the middle of the arm that extends northeast. The remainder of the island is made up of clay banks, cobble beaches, and sandstone.
 
A map of Sand Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Sand Island

NPS Photo

Sand Island

Waabaabikaa-minis (Sand Island) East Bay dock is located 20 miles from Bayfield and 4 miles from Little Sand Bay. The lighthouse is another 2 miles on the north side of the island.

Acres: 2,949
Square Miles: 4.6 miles
Width: 2.8 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 9.7 miles
Elevation above Lake: 58 feet

The no primitive camping zones are scattered throughout Sand Island. No primitive camping is located 1/4 mile around the group camping sites 1-3 in East Bay, site 6 in Justice Bay, site 4 & 5 in Lighthouse Bay, 1 mile area around the west bay shoreline, and 1.5 miles around the southeast corner near the private cabins. There is 1/4 mile section of sandy beach that connects campsites 4 & 5 that is accessible to primitive camping.

There is another small sand beach 3 miles south of the lighthouse on the northwest shoreline. The northeast arm of Sand where the lighthouse station is located has a rocky ledge. Sandstone sea caves are frequented by kayakers north and south of camp site 6 on the east side. The remainder of Sand Island shoreline is cobble beach with boulders, clay banks and sandstone.
 
A map of South Twin Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
South Twin Island

NPS Photo

South Twin Island

Waaboozo-minis (South Twin) is located 18 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 360
Square Miles: 0.6 miles
Length: 1.1 miles
Width: 0.5 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 2.9 miles
Elevation above Lake: 48 feet

The no primitive camping zone on South Twin is 0.75 miles of shoreline on the western side near the dock, and a 1/4 mile around the official campsites 1-3. The best spot for kayakers to access South Twin is a sandy beach on the north end of the island. The south end of the island is cobble beach and the remaining shoreline is clay banks that are not easily accessible by boat.
 
A map of Stockton Island showing trails, shoreline, topography, and primitive camping zones.
Stockton Island

NPS Photo

Stockton Island

Wiisaakodewan-minis (Stockton Island) Quarry Bay is located 14 miles from Bayfield and Presque Isle Bay is located 16 miles from Bayfield.

Acres: 10,054
Square Miles: 15.7 miles
Length: 7.4 miles
Width: 3.7 miles
Miles of Shoreline: 22.7 miles
Elevation above Lake: 198 feet

Stockton Island is one of the largest Apostle Islands with the most official campsites and a diverse shoreline. The no primitive camping zones are a 1/4 mile around the group sites A, B, & 20 in Quarry Bay, a 1/4 miles around site 21 on the northeast side, and the entire tombolo shoreline including Presque Isle Bay and Julian Bay (campsites 1-19), and the ranger station. There are a few small sandy beaches along the island shore that are accessible by kayak including 1/2 mile directly south of site A in Quarry Bay near the Quarry Bay trailhead, and five small stretches anywhere from a 1/4 - 1/2 mile along the northwest side that are broken up by gravel beaches and clay banks with boulders.

Last updated: September 4, 2021

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415 Washington Avenue
Bayfield , WI 54814

Phone:

715 779-3397

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