Madeline Island

Madeline Island is the largest of the Apostle Islands and the only one not included in the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. It’s 2.5 miles across the channel from Bayfield. The Anishinaabe name for Madeline Island is Mooningwanekaaning, which means Home of the Golden Breasted Woodpecker. Public signage on Madeline Island is bilingual, with place names written in both English and Anishinaabe.

There’s so much to do every time of year, you simply won’t be able to experience everything in a weekend trip! Here are some of the main attractions in the area. 

Getting there:

  • In Spring, Summer and Fall, walk, drive or bike on the Madeline Island Ferry Line - 
  • In the winter months when conditions permit, visitors can drive across the ice road, or take the windsled. 
  • Private watercraft 

When you get there: 

  • Art Galleries 
  • Bike Rental 
  • Big Bay State Park 
  • Big Bay Town Park 
  • Camping 
  • Madeline Island Museum 


Madeline Island is the spiritual center of the Lake Superior Chippewa, the Anishinaabe people. According to Anishinaabe history, the people were led there by Glitch Manitou, the Great Spirit, who told them to seek the place where food grows upon the water. Their travels led them to nearby Chequamegon Bay, where they discovered wild rice rice beds, the place where food grows upon the water. Madeline Island is named for Madeleine Cadotte, also known as Ikwesewe, the daughter of the Ojibwe chief White Crane. Ikwesewe was married to Michael Cadotte, a prominent fur trader and head of the trading post in the early 1800’s, which at that time was managed by John Jacob Astor’s American Fur Company.