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Tag Archives: Windsled

We stopped in Bayfield to have lunch with a friend. After lunch we wandered down to the harbor to take a few photos. We were very lucky to find one of the windsleds in the harbor. We watched it slide across the ice into the open water where the Madline Island Ferries were running.


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.