Cat, Hermit, and Devil's Islands, Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, WI

Camp and kayak at one of three remote islands
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Camp and kayak at one of three remote islands
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, WI

Lake Superior licks Devils Island’s distinctive, thinly bedded sandstone, which forms caves on the island’s north side. Photo by Viktor Posnov/ Photoshelter

One surefire strategy for solitude: Book the place for yourself. Anywhere rangers regulate where and when you can camp (most national parks, some state parks and national forests) may have a few single-party campsites sprinkled along its trails. Wilderness trip planning brochures sometimes list the site quota at each camp; if not, call the backcountry office and ask for your ticket to a night (or more) all alone.

Nowhere does this trick work better than in the Apostle Islands, where almost half of the chain’s sculpted-rock islands have a single campsite. That means strong paddlers with the skills to navigate Lake Superior’s challenging waters can access their own island, complete with sandy beaches, guaranteed tent-door water views, and shady hemlock and pine forests where black bears and red foxes roam. Many islands are also accessible by private, if pricey, water taxi. Top trip: From Bayfield, hop in a kayak and make your way 18 miles to Cat Island’s lone tent site; this outlier near the archipelago’s northeastern tip lacks a dock, so you won’t even have to share with the occasional boater (overnight at Oak or Manitou Islands en route). Or steer your vessel 15 miles to Devils Island (more popular due to its lighthouse and dock, but even prettier; layover on York and Bear Islands). The next day, you can paddle to the extensive sandstone sea caves on the island’s north side. For a shorter trip, reserve the cross-country camping zone on Hermit Island, an easier 8-mile paddle (and also no dock).

Season June to September Launch 46.807888, -90.818530 in Bayfield (Cat or Hermit Island); 46.946992, -90.889469 at Little Sand Bay (Devils Island) Permit Required; available up to 30 days before your trip ($10/ night; 715-779-3397) Water Taxibit.do/ApostleTaxiInfonps.gov/apis