How to drive the Madeline Island Ice Road of Wisconsin?

Madeline Island Ice Road is an ice road located on Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake by surface area, in the US state of Wisconsin. Drive at your own risk.

Madeline Island Ice Road

Where is the Madeline Island Ice Road?

The road straddles Bayfield and Ashland counties in the northern part of Wisconsin.

How long is the ice road from Bayfield to Madeline Island?

The road, also known as the Bayfield Ice Road, is about 3 km (1.9 mi) long and is used for several weeks in the year as a replacement for the summer ferry service.

Where does Madeline Island Ice Road start and end?

It runs from the city of Bayfield (in Bayfield County), on the mainland, to La Pointe (Ashland County), on the western shore of Madeline Island, the largest and most southern island of the Apostle Islands. It’s said to be the only ice road that appears on official state maps. Running on the frozen waters of Lake Superior, drivers should observe the same rules of the road as they would on any Wisconsin highway.

Is the ice road open to Madeline Island?

Once the lake begins to freeze over, the car ferry between the island and the Bayfield mainland ceases to operate. The ice road is open in winters only. 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 discarded Christmas trees and is officially an extension of County Highway H. Once the ice thickens enough to support conventional vehicles, the ice road is officially opened to cars, trucks, and buses. While the road is open, the ice is monitored several times a day.

Things to Remember About Driving on the Madeline Island Ice Road

Do not exceed 15 mph and keep plenty of space between vehicles. Remember to start by rolling your windows completely down and then remove your seatbelt. Beneath the ice road, water depths can be as shallow as 50-60 feet while in other places over 250 feet. If you fall through the ice, you’ll only have a few seconds to escape. Due to weather conditions, it is important to check before traveling. The seasonal road is marked with evergreen trees so that drivers of cars and light trucks can follow the correct route. The drive is not for the faint of heart, as the road can be slippery and treacherous, with hidden cracks and fissures lurking beneath the surface.