Madeline Island Ferry Line operates 4 ferries, the Motor Vessel (MV) Bayfield, MV Madeline, MV Island Queen, and MV Nichevo, connecting Bayfield and Madeline Island.
Let the magic of Lake Superior weave its spell. As you travel you will experience:
- The romance of the 22 Apostle Islands
- Warm summer evenings
- Beautiful scenery
- Friendly people
- Clean, fresh air
- Northern Lights
- Sparkling clear blue waters
Come ride with us and get away to it all!
- 2013 Madeline Island Ferry Line Schedule-(cover) [pdf]
- 2013 Madeline Island Ferry Line Schedule (inside) [pdf]
- 2013 May Extra Trips
- 2013 June/July Extra Trips
- 2013 Applefest Extra Ferry Trips
- Holiday Season Special Trips
- Breakup thru May 2
- May 3 thru May 23
- May 24 thru June 25
- June 26 thru September 2
- September 3 thru October 7
- October 8 thru October 20
- October 21 thru December 1
- December 2 thru Freeze Up
Madeline Island Ferry Line
2013 Ferry Rates | tel: 715.747.2051
We do not take reservations for cars/trucks with camper trailers or motorhomes. Larger vehicles that require a reservation are semi’s or motorcoaches.
Getting to Madeline Island
Madeline Island is 4 hours from the Minneapolis/St. Paul, 9 hours from Chicago and 1 3/4 hours from Duluth. Once you arrive in Bayfield, the shores of Lake Superior open up to you as you get ready to take the 25 minute ferry ride to the perfect island paradise. Directions
Ashland, WI25 miles
Minneapolis-St Paul220 miles
Eau Claire180 miles
Green Bay265 miles
The transportation of people and freight continues today, as it has for over 150 years. The wooden steamers of yesterday have given rise to the steel hulled diesel-powered vessels of today. Madeline Island Ferry Line continues the long distinguished tradition of providing ferry service between Madeline Island and Bayfield.
“Travel Green” and Madeline Island Ferry Line
Madeline Island Ferry Line is now a member of the “Travel Green Wisconsin” program.
In the spring of 2008, Mike Radtke, Tab Butler and Ross Lind initiated the MIFL “Travel Green” application process (to the State of Wisconsin’s Department of Tourism). The Ferry Line was certified as a “Travel Green” business last summer. All ferry line employees have worked hard to make the operational changes necessary to meet our commitment to the “Travel Green” initiative.
Madeline Island Ferry Line Environmental Statement
Madeline Island Ferry Line has a strong commitment to natural resource protection. It is our goal to continuously improve the environmentally sustainable methods already in place such as an active recycling program, fuel saving and streamlined maintenance practices. In addition we are introducing new energy-saving and environmentally healthy systems into our organization.
Madeline Island Ferry Line’s Energy Conservation Practices
Following are some of the environmentally sustainable methods already in place and the new energy-saving and environmentally healthy systems MIFL has incorporated into our organization.
- Vessel engines run at low RPMs for significant fuel savings
- Vessel engines are turned off when dock idle time exceeds 10 minutes
- A high capacity DC voltage to AC voltage on the MV Madeline was installed to help reduce the amount of time the diesel generators operate
- “Puradyn”™ oil filter systems were installed on the three largest vessels (greatly extending the useful life of the engine oil)
- Vegetable-based hydraulic fluid is used on all vessels
- Web based camera system allows ferry crew to monitor vehicle traffic and more efficiently schedule extra ferry trips
- An inverter was added to the MV Bayfield to supply 110 AC in lieu of running the generator for early am and pm landing lights. The generator still needs to be run when the furnace is engaged.
- Low power fluorescent lighting were upgraded in the passenger terminal, shop area, office, and outdoor parking and loading areas
- Shore facilities have programmable thermostats; windows are opened in summer instead of air conditioning
- South-facing windows in passenger terminal add passive solar heat
- Green cleaning products are used
- Solar thermal panels on ferry terminal heat the domestic hot water and supplement the in floor heating system (in the Bayfield passenger terminal)
- We have an active recycling program and composting program for landscape waste
- Native and drought-resistant plants were used for landscaping along with soaker hoses and mulch
Computer, ticketing and organizational communications
- Computer equipment is put in “sleep mode”
- Customer charges are input into ticketing computer; then transferred to accounting program (minimal paper charges written)
- Lower mag card (frequent traveler) vehicle fares are available for customers driving compacts (vehicles less than 17 feet long)
- Customer billing has been converted from mailed paper to e-mail statements
- A mag card re-programmer was purchased (rather than throwing away bad mag cards and reissuing them)
- “Google docs” share MIFL web documents with crew and managers (work schedules /memo’s/etc)
- An electronic calendar maintains event/traffic scheduling
- MIFL rewards employees for ridesharing, taking the bus, walking or biking to work
- Employee checks are direct deposited and paycheck stubs e-mailed
- We have communicated with the area transit bus manager to coordinate ferry and Bart bus schedules
Madeline Island Ferry Line is excited to be part of the “Travel Green WI” initiative and welcomes customer input and support for our on-going efforts in this program.
Frequently Asked Questions
- Where is Madeline Island?
Madeline Island is located at the very northern point of Wisconsin on Lake Superior. Located 90 miles east of Duluth MN; 465 miles north of Chicago, IL; and 320 miles north of Madison, WI.
- How do I get to Madeline Island?
Madeline Island can be accessed via private boat, airplane or Ferry. Madeline Island Ferry Line boat landing is located in Bayfield. WI and provides service from March or April until freeze-up, weather permitting.
- Is there somewhere to park my car in Bayfield?
There is parking throughout the town of Bayfield; some street parking has a 2 hour limit. There are various lots that will allow overnight and up to 2 week parking. Bayfield Chamber of Commerce had a great city parking map!
- How do people get across during the winter?
Once the ferries stop running for the winter, there is a passenger-only windsled (see picture above) that travels on a limited schedule. The windsled is used until the ice road is considered safe enough for cars and light trucks to travel. The windsled is used again in the spring when the road is deemed unworthy of travel but the lake ice is too thick for the ferries to cut through.
- Where are the Ferry docks located?
Madeline Island Ferry Line docks are located at the northeast end of Bayfield. Turn east unto Washington Ave off of Highway 13.
- How long is the Ferry ride to the Island?
The ferry ride takes approximately 20-25 minutes.
- How far across to Madeline Island?
From mainland dock to Island dock the distance is approximately 2.5 miles.
- How fast do the Ferries travel?
On average the ferries travel about 10 knots per hour or about 12 miles per hour.
- How big is Madeline Island?
Madeline Island is 14 miles long and 3 miles wide.
- Is there a place on the Ferry where I can stow packages if I don’t take my car with me?
Each ferry has a site where packages can safely be stowed while crossing. Please ask the boat crew for the appropriate location before stowing.
- Can I bring my pet onto the Ferry?
Yes, as long as the pet is on a leash or properly kenneled. Pets are not to be left unattended while on a leash.
- Are the Ferries capable of transporting RV’s or other over-sized vehicles?
Yes, the ferries are able to transport most anything that can travel down the road.
- Are reservations required?
No, vehicles and pedestrians are loaded on a first come first served basis. (Exemptions are for Semi-trailers, dump trucks etc. or pre-arranged tour groups).
- How far in advance should I be in line for a specific scheduled crossing?
The general rule is approximately 10-15 minutes for the typical trip.
- What are the busiest scheduled trips?
Monday through Friday the busiest trips are 7:30 am leaving Bayfield and 4:30 pm leaving Madeline Island.
Thursday and Friday evenings leaving Bayfield are busy during the summer months.
Sundays leaving Madeline Island; mornings until about 3:00pm is typically the busiest. Extra boats run to accommodate the rush.
- Do I have to sit in my car while on the Ferry?
No, you do not need to occupy your vehicle during the crossing. Please let the boat crew know while you are being loaded that you would like to be able to get out of your vehicle. There are various passenger cabins and outdoor seating available on each ferry.
- Do I drive my own vehicle onto the Ferry?
Yes, however a boat crew member will direct you to a specific parking spot.
- Can I smoke while on the Ferry?
No, smoking is not allowed on the ferries whether in your vehicle or standing on the deck. No smoking is allowed at the ferry landing or in the passenger terminal in Bayfield.
- If I don’t bring my car over to the island, what can I do while on the Island?
The Ferry Line offers a free guided walking tour from June 28 – August 27, 2 pm (Monday through Friday only).
- What is the difference between the State Park and the Town Park?
The Parks are located at opposite ends of Big Bay on the east side of the island. The Town Park is owned and operated by the Town of LaPointe, the State Park is part of Wisconsins State Park system and requires a State Park sticker for admitance.
- Can I rent a bike on the Island?
Yes, there is a bike and moped rental shop within 2 blocks of the ferry landing.
- How deep is the water in the Ferry channel?
The lake depth at its deepest during the crossing is between 157-163 ft.
- When do the Ferries stop running for the season?
Most winters, mid-January the ice gets too thick for the ferries to run through and the windsled season begins. Ice road closed, windsled traffic only.
- How many cars can fit on the Ferries?
MV Bayfield will hold 25 cars
MV Madeline will hold 18 cars
MV Island Queen will hold 14 cars
MV Nichevo II will hold 9 cars
- How can you see when its foggy?
All ferries are equipped with radar, GPS (new) and a compass for safe navigation. All ferry Captains are US Coast Guard trained and certified.
- Do the Ferries ever stop running because of bad weather?
Not often, each ferry has a different hull design and responds differently to various weather and wind direction. If one ferry is unable to land safely due to wind or wave conditions, another ferry may be better equipped and is then used. More often then shutting down, there may be a reduced schedule. If in doubt as to weather conditions, please check the “Weather Alert” section on madferry.com (left hand link on top of page), or check “Weather Alert” section on madferry.com/mobile or call 715-747-2051 for possible schedule changes.
- Do the Ferries run on a cable?
No, each ferry is equipped with diesel engines.
- Where are the public boat launches located?
Madeline Island Yacht Club has a boat launch as well as in Bayfield at the town marina and at Black Hawk harbor.
- How many people live on the Island?
Year round resident population is about 275, however in the summer it increases to about 2800-3000 with cabin dwellers and vacationers.
- Is there transportation from the airport to town?
No, there is no readily available transportation, please make arrangements with your place of lodging prior to flying to the Island.
- Can i get any info on my mobile phone/device? Yes, please log into madferry.com/mobile