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 big is Madeline Island?  Madeline Island is 14 miles long and 3 miles wide. There are over 50 miles of paved and unpaved roads on the Island.
  • How do I get to Madeline Island?  The Madeline Island Ferry Line boat landing is located at the northeast end of Bayfield. Turn east onto Washington Avenue off of State Highway 13. Ferry service is provided from March or April until freeze-up, weather permitting. The ferry ride takes approximately 20-25 minutes. From the mainland dock to Island dock the distance is approximately 2.5 miles. The ferries operate from March or April until freeze-up, weather permitting. Ferry schedule and rates.
  • 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). The general rule is to be in line approximately 10-15 minutes for a scheduled 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.
  • 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 and the MV Nichevo II will hold 9 cars.
  • Do I drive my own vehicle onto the Ferry? Yes, however a boat crew member will direct you to a specific parking spot.
  • If I don’t bring my car over to the island, what can I do while on the Island? The Village of La Pointe is located at the end of the ferry dock. There are shops, restaurants, churches, museums, lodging, hiking trails, grocery stores, small public beach area, coffee, bike, moped, kayak rental, mini-golf and many other points of interest within walking distance. Madeline Island Ferry Line provides a free guided walking tour at  11am, June 26 thru August 25, 2017 (Monday thru Friday only. No tour on July 4).
  • Is there somewhere to park my car in Bayfield? There is limited parking available at the ferry landing. There is parking throughout the City 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 has a great city parking map!
  • 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 at any time.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Alerts” section on madferry.com  or call 715-747-2051 for possible schedule changes.
  • Can I receive text alerts on my mobile phone? Yes. Customers can receive schedule updates due to weather, holidays, etc. via text messages on any type of cell phone (message and data rates may apply). To sign up: in the text line type madferry and in the to/contact/phone number line type 24587 press send and in a few moments you should receive a short text telling you that you will be receiving text updates in the future. If you do not receive this message retry. For help, text help and in the to/contact/phone number line type 24587. Text messages will often get through to phones in areas on the island where voice calls will not.  To opt-out of the service type stop in the text line and in the to/contact/phone number line type 24587
  • 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.
  • Is there public transportation on Madeline Island? No, public transportation is not available on the Island. It is advisable to bring your car across – especially for access to the parks as they are located 7 miles from the ferry landing.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • How do people get across during the winter? Once the ferries stop running for the winter, there is a passenger-only windsled 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.