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Big Bay State Park

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General Information

Description - Big Bay State Park is located on Big Bay, Madeline Island, the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands. Named for the daughter of Chief White Crane and wife of fur trader Michael Cadotte, the Ojibway Indians were the original inhabitants. The entire island is a summertime resort Mecca with populations exceeding 2,500. In winter, the residents total fewer than 200. Sandstone formations, the 1.5-mile sand beach, and interesting nature trails allure visitors to Big Bay State Park.

Attractions - Big Bay State Park is reachable via the Madeline Island Ferry Line based in Bayfield, Wisconsin. The ferry operates from "breakup" to "freeze up." Call for a schedule. Winter users may drive their vehicles or snowmobiles across the lake. The ferry deposits her passengers approximately 7 miles from Big Bay State Park. Bicycles, mopeds and tour buses are popular island transporting methods. Big Bay State Park has 60 reservable campsites with showers and flush toilets but no electric hookup. Group campsites accommodate up to 20 individuals for indoor camping near the lagoon. Camping reservations are available online or by calling a toll-free reservation number. Contact information is listed below. The day use area is equipped with picnic tables, grills, drinking water, and restrooms. A 1.5-mile beach provides an opportunity to rock hunt and bask in the sun. Typically, Lake Superior is too cold for much more than wading. Bird watchers are intrigued with the island park. A park bird list entails 240 species and is available at the park office. Hiking trails explore 7 miles of varied habitat, some of which is detailed through interpretive signage. Anglers typically fish the park's lagoon catching northern pike. Lake Superior anglers snag several species of trout. During the summer months, a park naturalist interprets the flora and fauna. Winter users are welcome to camp, snowshoe, and cross-country ski. The park does not groom their trails.

Recreation - Recreations at Big Bay State Park include a family campground, including walk-in campsites, indoor group camp, hiking and nature trails, beachcombing, fishing, bird watching, and cross-country skiing.

Climate - Northwest Wisconsin has four distinct seasons with warm summers and long winters. Great Lakes Michigan and Superior tend to make summers cooler and winters milder close to shore. January's average temperature is in the single digits F (-teens C). During summer, temperatures can climb to above 90 degrees F for several days (32 degrees C). Nighttime summer temperatures occasionally dip below freezing. The area's average yearly precipitation ranges from 32-34". Annual snowfalls in the Northwest Region have a wide range; the southern areas may receive 20" while the northern areas may receive in excess of 200". Dressing in layers is a good way to remain comfortable in Wisconsin.

Location - Madeline Island is the home of Big Bay State Park in Northwest Wisconsin.

Current Conditions & Trip Reports

Trip Reports:
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Filed By: Louise doncaster
Number of People Encountered: 11-25 ppl
Recommend to a Friend: Highly
Report: We had a nice time at Big Bay state park except for one thing, people let their dogs run loose and not on leashes, also there were clearly marked signs that there were NO DOGS allowed on the beach or board walks yet people broke this rule the entire time and the ranger never came to make people obey. I am a dog lover and a dog owner, I have a chichuahua and I was not able to even walk my dog on the roads in the camp ground because big dogs came to bother us. It was really annoying! I did state the rule to a few people violating and they reacted badly to me. I am hoping that the ranger can do a better job seeing to it that people follow the rules for the protection of the cleaness of the board walks and beaches and just so a person obeying the rules can enjoy the board walks and beach. The beach was beautiful and the weather was great. We had a good time.

Recreation Opportunities
Activity Remarks On Site
ICON Lakes & Reservoirs Lake Superior

More Information

Contact Information:
Big Bay State Park, P.O. Box 589 , Bayfield, WI, 54814-0589, Phone: 715-747-6425

Additional Information:
Northwest Wisconsin - Wisconsin's least populated region, Northwest Wisconsin, invites you to explore its gently rolling terrain punctuated by scenic landscapes that are rich with wildlife.
Wisconsin State Parks, Forests, Recreation Areas & Trails - Wisconsin showcases 86 state park system properties offering visitors an opportunity to hike, camp, swim, fish, and simply relax.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources - Official agency website.


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