The State of Wisconsin features several scenic byways that will help make your trip unforgettable and also offer some great photo opportunities.

Wisconsin’s newest scenic byway is in the very picturesque northern part of the state along the shores of Lake Superior on the lake’s western end.

lake superior scenic byway map
Wisconsin lake Superior Scenic Byway route

Wisconsin’s Scenic Byway Program

The Wisconsin Scenic Byway Program began in 1999 when a new state law directed the state Department of Transportation to develop and administer a scenic byway program.

Today, there are a total of four Wisconsin Scenic Byways with the addition of the newest one, the Wisconsin lake Superior Scenic Byway. The other three scenic byways are the Great River Road, the Lower Wisconsin River Road and the Door County Coastal Byway.

The program is a cooperative effort between local communities and WisDOT to identify and promote state highway corridors with scenic and/or historical attributes that provide travelers an enjoyable visual, educational and recreational experience. A scenic byway is at least 30 miles in length and is other than an Interstate Highway.

lake superior shoreline
Lake Superior shoreline

Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway

The Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway  is a 70-mile route of State Hwy. 13 from U.S. Hwy. 2 just west of Ashland to County H in Douglas County. This 70 mile route is beautiful with a variation of forested areas and stunning coastal views. 

On April 18, 2013, a ribbon cutting ceremony at StageNorth Theater in Washburn made the Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway official. Among the many sites to visiti and enjoy on this scenic byway is access to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, the Northwest Wildlife Refuge Lands and the Chequamegon National Forest.

The route of the Wisconsin lake Superior Scenic Byway includes the cities of Bayfield and Washburn; the Red Cliff Tribal lands; the towns of Barksdale, Bayfield, Bayview, Bell, Clover, Cloverland, Orienta, Port Wing and Russell; and the unincorporated areas of Cornucopia, Herbster and Port Wing.

Apostle Islands

The Apostle Islands Lakeshore in Wisconsin is a very popular tourist destination for summer time tourists. Here you will see beautifully forested islands and one hundred year old lighthouses. In all there are eight historic lighthouses on the Apostle Islands. Some of the popular ways to explore the islands is by hiking and by kayak.

Wildlife at this National Lakeshore includes black bears and bald eagles. Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is administered by the National Park Service. For more detailed information see website

In Bayfield you’ll want to stop by at the Apostle Island National Lakeshore Visitor Center. The Visitor Center is located inside the old county courthouse. The Visitor Center offers exhibits, audio visual programs and plenty of information about touring the islands and recreational opportunities.

See the Trips Into History articles on the links below…

Driving the Los Caminos Antiguos Scenic Byway

Tour Michigan’s Copper Harbor Scenic Highway

Travel the Meeting of the Great Rivers Scenic Byway

On our Western Trips site see the article on the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway

Madeline Island

Madeline Island is the largest of Lake Superior’s 22 Apostle Islands.

lake superior lighthouses
Devil’s Island Lighthouse

Plenty of things to do and enjoy on Madeline Island including cottages and campgrounds, beautiful beaches and biking and hiking. Add to this unique shops and dining and a Robert Trent Jones designed golf course.

Learn all about the history of Madeline Island by visiting the Madeline Island Historical Museum.The museum was opened in the mid 1950’s. The museum was created by joining four historic log structures end to end – a small 1835 warehouse from the historic American Fur Company complex, the former LaPointe town jail, a Scandinavian-style barn, and the Old Sailors Home. Getting to the island is a lot of fun.

You can catch the Madeline Island Ferry for a two and a half mile trip to the island. The ferry runs between Madeline Island and the town of Bayfield. Access to the ferry landing is from Highway 13.

Madeline Island is the southernmost of the Apostle Islands and the only island there that is inhabited year round.

bayfield county wisconsin
Bayfield County Wisconsin Courthouse

Bayfield, Wisconsin

Bayfield, Wisconsin on Wisconsin’s Lake Superior Scenic Byway is a charming and picturesque town. Bayfield is located on the northern tip of Wisconsin and is the gateway to Madeline Island and the Apostle Islands. In addition to that, Bayfield is an active art community with unique shops, accommodations and dining.

If you enjoy B & B’s, you’ll find some excellent ones in Bayfield. One such is the Old Rittenhouse Inn. The Rittenhouse Inn offers 20 guest rooms in two Victorian homes and a private cottage with fireplaces, whirlpool tubs and spectacular Lake Superior views. Another is the Harbor Hill House located two blocks from downtown Bayfield. A third B & B to check out in Bayfield is the Artesian House B & B. This is an Eco-Friendly Contemporary Inn nestled on 25 Wooded Acres. Full Farm-to Table Breakfast, Comfortable Furnishings, Soaring Great Room with Wood Stove, and Natural Views in All Directions.

The route of the Wisconsin Lake Superior Scenic Byway captures a picturesque area of lake Superior. If your plans call for a weekend trip or vacation to northern Wisconsin this scenic byway would be a great addition to your travel plans.

(Article copyright 2014 Trips Into History. Old Bayfield Wisconsin courthouse photo is from Billerti, Creative Commons License 3.0. Remainder of photos and images in the public domain)