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Tag Archives: Madeline Island Windsled

This year for the first time in a long time you might be able to experience a number of outstanding events on the same day or at least the same weekend in the Bayfield area.

The weekend of February 1 and 2, 2014 the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race will take place. In my opinion this is one of the best sled dog races for spectators because there are a large number of sled dog teams that participate.

Off and Racing

Off and Racing

In addition, it is possible to get up close to the dogs and it is easy to watch them come out of the starting gate. There are no bad seats at the event.



Since the race is an out and back race you have time to watch them take off in the morning, enjoy lunch in Bayfield, and return to the race site and watch them come back early in the afternoon.Apostle-Islands-Sled-Dog-Race-11-2-_2518

While in Bayfield you can drive out to Madeline Island on the ice road. The ice road to Madeline Island opened this past week so the ice should be good and solid by the time of the sled dog race. When we were at the race last year the wind sled was operating still operating.Madeline-Island-Windsled-13-2_0043

In addition, the Apostle Islands Ice Caves are open so you have a chance to watch some of the sled dog race, drive out to Madeline Island on the ice road and walk out to the Apostle Island Ice Caves all on the same day.Apostle-Islands-Ice-Caves-14-1-_1471

A better option would be to stay in the area and enjoy the events over the course of the weekend.

We were recently in Bayfield, Wisconsin to watch the Apostle Islands Sled Dog Race. During our visit we discovered that the Madeline Island Windsled was in operation.


Madeline Island is the only island in the Apostle Islands that is open to commercial development. It has about 250 year around inhabitants. It is 2 miles from Bayfield out in Lake Superior. Most of the year access to Madeline Island is by ferry. The ferry operates until the ice is too thick. At that time scheduled access to the island is by Windsled. Some of the locals use bikes, snowmobiles, skis etc. during the transition period. Once the ice becomes thick enough scheduled access is by van. The van runs until the ice starts to breakup in the spring and the windsleds are used once again until the ferry can operate.


I’ve always wanted to see the Windsled in operation and this was my lucky day. On the weekends it only makes three trips. During the week it makes more. There are actually three windsleds that are in use with the larger sleds operated during the week when there is more demand. The windsleds transport everything that needs to go to and from Madeline island during the time it is operation. On this particular day the smallest sled was in operation.


It was a beautiful crisp cold morning as I stood out on the ice waiting for the windsled. There had been a little snowfall the night before so there was about an inch of powder on the ice. In the distance I could see a large cloud of blowing snow and knew this was the windsled making its way across the ice. The pine trees in the photo mark the route the windsled takes and also marks the ice road in the winter. On this particular trip the windsled offloaded several passengers and picked up several more.