Madeline Island's Ice Road

Travel Guide to Madeline Island's Ice Road of WI

Madeline Island's Winter Ice Road is an ice road located in Wisconsin, United States, on Lake Superior, linking the city of Bayfield, on the mainland with La Pointe, on Madeline Island. The road is about 3 km (1.9 mi) long and is used for several weeks in the year as replacement for the summer ferry service.

When the ice is too thin to allow the construction of the road, but too thick to allow ferry service, a type of hovercraft is used to transport school children from the island to and from the mainland. The ice road is traditionally marked by Christmas trees and is officially an extension of County Highway H.

Once the lake begins to freeze over the car ferry between the island and the Bayfield mainland ceases to operate. For a time while the ice is getting thick enough for traffic, an Ice Sled water taxi (Windsled) allows passenger travel to and from the mainland. If the ice is too thin for automobile traffic, but too thick for ferry traffic, access to the island is by airplane, snowmobile, and windsled only. The windsled often operates in early winter and spring. The Wind Sled is a large, covered, flat-bottomed airboat that is able to travel on the ice but will float should the ice not be thick enough to support it. Once the ice thickens enough to support conventional vehicles the Ice Road is officially opened to cars, trucks, and buses.


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