Apostle Islands Question

I have a 3-night permit for late September in the Apostles. My first night is a wilderness permit on Bear Island, since Devil’s was occupied. I have done quite a bit of Apostles’ paddling, but have only camped at designated sites previously. Does anyone know of a good location on Bear for wilderness camping? I have paddled around it, and stopped for lunch once on the sand beach on the northeast side. I would appreciate input from anyone who has done this before. Thanks.


if you’ve been on the beach on the
north east side, that is the only spot I saw on that island to camp. And do watch out for bear! I saw skat and tracks up the wazoo when I camped there in June!

Topo Clues
A good look at a topo map can often provide clues as to the nature of the shoreline and general lay of the land:


From this, it appears just about all but the southeast corner of Bear Island has fairly gradual, approachable shorelines. The northeast corner you mention also boasts a small creek.

I camped on the north side of Oak few weeks ago and from the overlook bluff it appeared Bear was nearly completely wooded, but you should be able to find a good site.

How does the wilderness camping process work? I saw something on the NPS website, but they just advised one to call for a map/brochure. Do you need to specify exactly where you intend to camp, or just the particular island, or anything at all? Could you just get wilderness permits for, say, four nights and then wing it from there?

Appreciate anything you can tell me!

Thanks for the info
This is my first time using the wilderness camping, after many trips to the Apostles. I was using the typical phone-in system for the designated campsites. When I stated my desired itinerary (starting from Little Sand Bay the first day, trying to get to Devils, but it was already booked), the park ranger/operator suggested this alternative to me. Apparently there are large zones, typically one per island, beyond the designated sites.

Below is an excerpt from the NPS site, giving the restriction criteria:

The following areas are closed to camping:

Areas excluded from designated camping zones and areas posted as closed to protect bird nesting sites or other sensitive resources.

In view of any designated trail.

Within 1/4 mile of any designated campsite, building, or historic structure.

Within 100 feet of a flowing stream.

Within 100 yards of any road.

Private land or leaseholdings.

All of Eagle, Gull, and North Twin islands.

From your topo link, I might have to settle for the sand beach on the northeast end. I hope there aren’t any nor’esters that day - could be a difficult surf landing, because I think that beach is fully exposed to the open lake.


I assume you are talking about
"backcountry camping". I called and rcvd a brochure, which doesnt help much. here’s what it says:“camping is aval outside of individual or group campsites on all islands except devels, eagle, gull, north twin and your. camping zones have been established on the rest of the islands for visitors seeking a remote backcountry experience. camping zone maps are avail at the headquarters visitor center…” Of course they didnt provide me a map showing the zones. I guess you have to physically show up there to arrange? You’d think they could post all info necessary on their website?


Aerial Photos
Here’s another good view:


Zoom in to look at the shorelines to find a decent landing/camping spot, creeks, even some lake bottom contours. Everything but the black flies!

Heck, I think I can see that water bottle I left on Oak Island’s beach a couple weeks ago …

You can camp on the NE side
We spent two nights there in late July a couple of years ago. It is true wilderness camping – bury your feces, hang your food away from bears, endure biting insects, etc. But it is a beautiful place and the insects may not be a problem that late in the year. Just paddle around to that side of the island and pick out a flat space to pitch your tent on that is far enough from the water. Far enough from the water means that you don’t have to move your tent in the middle of the night because a storm came up. Yes that happened to one of our party. There was no one else there when we were, which was great. I suspect you will experience that. Enjoy!

Rising Water
Speaking of quickly rising water levels, when we were there recently the ranger on Oak warned us to pull our boats far up from the water each night, and to securely tie them up. Common sense, you’d think.

Apparently not. Couple days before, three guys were camped on one of the outer islands and awoke to find only two kayaks. A wind shift or weather change had increased the wave action and worked loose the only untied boat and carried it away.

No word on how much it costs to have a Park Service boat come out to pluck you off an island …

I can’t wait…
to bury my own feces. A true wilderness experience indeed. Seriously, it should be a great place to spend a night, and I appreciate the suggestions. Now I just have to hope for a tail wind to get to Outer the next day…