Things You Should Know Before Investing in Cabin Rental Properties in Northern Wisconsin

Northern Wisconsin is a true outdoor lover’s paradise. With vast raw forests, rugged mountains, and miles of Lake Superior shoreline, the region offers unlimited adventures and exhilarating active fun. The northwestern communities of Ashland, Bayfield, and Cornucopia are especially popular as gateways to the Apostle Islands, a group of 21 unspoiled and historic islands on Lake Superior where even more adventures await.

There’s something to do and explore in Northern Wisconsin no matter the time of year. And while guests and tourists can find accommodations in hotels in the area, those who truly want to immerse themselves in the outdoors choose to stay in cabin rentals.

Cabin vs. House

Traditionally, cabins are small log houses with very simple architecture and stark furnishings. In the pioneer days, cabins were the standard homes because of their ease of construction and the abundant supply of logs in the area. The earliest settlers and homesteaders built cabins where they and their families lived amid a vast expanse of land.

Today, many modern cabins feature all the conveniences of a contemporary home, including some truly luxurious amenities. While logs are still popular as building materials, today’s cabins also make use of concrete, lumbered wood, stone, or a combination of these materials. What has not changed is these houses’ traditional rustic look that blends perfectly with the surrounding natural beauty.

Cabins today come in a wide range of sizes but are still generally smaller than standard single-family homes. This is one reason they’re perfect as getaway lodgings, especially in Northern Wisconsin, where people come to experience the great outdoors and live amid the simplicity and serenity of nature.

Cabins in Northern Wisconsin

Just like their original counterparts, rental cabins in Northern Wisconsin today are found in rather isolated locations, nestled in forests or by a lake or river. Many are part of a resort with several cabins for rent, but even in these settings, the operators make sure each house offers plenty of privacy and surrounding space.

There are quite a few standalone cabins for rent, as well. Some are personal vacation homes that owners rent out occasionally, while others are investment properties that were purchased solely as businesses.

Cabin Rentals in Bayfield, WI

As in the rest of Northern Wisconsin, cabin rentals in Bayfield, WI offer the unparalleled luxury of being surrounded entirely by nature. The most sought after properties are those found along the shores of Lake Superior, giving guests the best access to the water and the surrounding forests. Visit Windseeker Vacation Rentals to view our collection of specially curated Bayfield area cabin rentals.

The Benefits of Investing in a Cabin in Northern Wisconsin

Whether you’re an investor or are simply looking to have your very own getaway, here are good reasons why you should put your money on a cabin in Northern Wisconsin:

    1. You Can Have Your Very Own Retreat

      Think of those times when you had the spontaneous urge to simply pack your bags and get away from it all, but couldn’t because you didn’t have a place to stay. Or all the hassle you had to go through in planning, searching, and booking your family’s lodging for a vacation. When you have your very own vacation cabin, you can take off anytime you want without having to worry about accommodations. You know you have a safe and comfortable home away from home. And because you’re not trying to beat check-in and check-out times, you can enjoy a more leisurely drive along the scenic route to Northern Wisconsin, and leave whenever it’s convenient for you. If you visit often, you can maximize your investment by saving on expensive lodging fees, especially when you travel with your family or a large group. You can also save on travel expenses by preparing your own meals at home. And you don’t have to lug around any sporting gear and equipment every time you go on vacation — you can safely leave them behind in your cabin.


    1. Cabin Rentals Can Be Profitable Businesses

      Vacation rentals pay for themselves. You can use your rental income to pay for the mortgage, and any money left over is cash in your pocket. You can also take advantage of tax benefits that come with a rental property. If you rent out the home for no more than 14 days in a year, you may not have to declare your rental income in your tax returns. Income derived from more than 14 days of rent is taxable, but you can deduct your operating and rental expenses from your taxable income. Moreover, as real estate values tend to appreciate over time, you may realize a good profit if you decide to sell the property in the future. According to Zillow, property values in the city of Bayfield have gone up by about 55% since 2011, and are expected to rise by 5.4% over the next year.


    1. You Get the Best Access to Northern Wisconsin’s Amazing Attractions

      Every year, thousands of visitors travel to Wisconsin for its amazing nature attractions.
      Outdoor enthusiasts are especially drawn to Northern Wisconsin, where you’ll find the largest wildernesses in the state, with hardwood forests encompassing much of the region. The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest protects over one million acres of these forests, as well as several designated wilderness areas like Rainbow Lake and Headwaters. The forests are home to an amazing variety of wildlife, including black bears, foxes, woodpeckers, gray wolves, and so many more, which you can safely observe at a distance. The northwestern cities and towns of Wisconsin are bordered by Lake Superior, the world’s largest freshwater lake in terms of surface area. This part of the country is considered as one of the best places to kayak in the US. It’s also here where you’ll find the famous Apostle Islands and the breathtaking Lake Superior sea caves. The area boasts numerous smaller lakes, rivers, waterfalls, and streams where one can indulge in activities like fishing, boating, canoeing, and more. In the winter, the region’s hiking trails turn into cross country skiing and snowshoe trails, as the area turns into a winter wonderland.


  1. Tourism Is Supported by the Government

    Tourism is the primary economic driver in Wisconsin. In 2019, the state welcomed 113 million visitors and generated around $13.7 billion in tourism spending. Bayfield County is one of the top five most visited counties in the state. In 2016, total visitor spending in the county amounted to $46.5 million. Around 183,700 people visited the Apostle Islands and spent nearly $30 million in nearby communities. The City of Bayfield has a permanent population of only around 500, but this rises to several thousands during the summer months when visitors come in droves. There is a limited number of hotels in the city, and vacation rentals, particularly cabins for rent, are popular lodging options. With tourism playing a major role in Wisconsin’s economy, it gets significant support, not only from the state government but from county and local governments, as well. The website, Travel Wisconsin, is the official state website created to promote tourism throughout the state. Bayfield County’s Department of Tourism is also very active in promoting tourism in the area. They have developed a Local Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan as a guide in the development of recreation facilities in the county.The City of Bayfield’s Chamber of Commerce is playing an active role in promoting local tourism, alongside the city government. The Apostle Islands falls under the jurisdiction of both the federal and local governments, which share the oversight of tourism activities in the area, including cruises, adventure tours, kayaking and other activities, including the exploration of the Apostle Islands ice caves which is only permitted when conditions allow.

Windseeker Realty proudly represents some of the best cabins and vacation homes in Bayfield and nearby communities. These properties are perfect for seasonal or year-round living, and make great investments as rentals. They boast wonderful locations, with easy access to Lake Superior, hiking and skiing trails, wildernesses, meadows, creeks, and other natural features.

Most of these homes generously feature wood for a cozy, rustic feel. Large windows and spacious porches are common features, allowing residents and guests to fully enjoy their pristine surroundings. Square footages vary widely, and the number of beds and baths range from 1 to 3. The houses sit in large land parcels ranging from less than one acre to 80 acres or more.

To give you a good picture of what you can expect, take a look at three properties we have listed or recently sold in Bayfield, WI.

    • 37655 Madeleine Lane, Bayfield, WI 54814

      37655 Madeleine Lane, Bayfield, WI 54814 | Homes for Sale in Bayfield, WI
      This cozy cabin is part of the Brickyard Creek Community, an environment-focused development on the shores of Lake Superior. The community is strongly committed to the protection and restoration of the wildlife, plants, and natural features in the area — a commitment that defines the homes here, as well. The house is around 423 square feet and comes with a spacious living area, a fully equipped kitchen, one bathroom, and porches on three sides, including a screened three-season porch. Just outside the property are paved and unpaved trails that meander through wooded areas, creeks, and a sandy Lake Superior beach. The home is a great base for an adventure in the Apostle Islands or the nearby National Park Forests. Listed for $125,000, it’s perfect as your own getaway cabin by the lake or as a vacation rental.


    • 6957 Little Sioux Road, Bayfield, WI 54814

      6957 Little Sioux Road, Bayfield, WI 54814 | Homes for Sale in Bayfield, WI
      This rustic log cabin sits on 80 acres of forested land with private trails that lead to the Bayfield County Trail System, as well as access to ATV and snowmobile trails, and two elevated stands for hunting. With approximately 428 square feet of living space, the cabin boasts a classic open plan and features a loft for extra sleeping space. It has a kitchen with a gas-powered built-in refrigerator, stove, and oven. It also gets electric power through a solar panel and inverter.This property was recently sold for $125,000.


  • 82070 State Highway 13, Bayfield, WI 54814

    82070 State Highway 13, Bayfield, WI 54814 | Homes for Sale in Bayfield, WI
    This beautiful cabin boasts distinctive architecture while maintaining all the elements of a country home. Featuring refreshing views of Lake Superior, it’s the perfect place to be when you feel like getting away from it all. With a square footage of around 2,188, a fully equipped kitchen with stainless steel appliances, 3 bedrooms, and 3 bathrooms, this stunning property is ideal as a family vacation home or even as a primary residence. The house features a wraparound deck, an excellently maintained lawn, and a fire pit that makes staying outdoors a blissful experience. Inside, the generous use of wood panels and finishes evoke warmth and comfort.This property was recently sold for $300,000.

How to Buy a Cabin in Bayfield, WI as an Investment Property

If you’re planning to start a cabin rental business in Bayfield, WI, these are steps and regulations to follow.

    1. Find the Right Property

      There’s a wide range of available rental cabins with great income potential in Bayfield or nearby communities like Ashland and Cornucopia. Call us, Windseeker Realty, to learn about your opportunities here. Your choices include properties by the lake or near national parks and forests, or both.


    1. Obtain a State Lodging License

      In Wisconsin, cabins for short term rentals generally fall under the category of “Tourist Rooming Houses” and will need a lodging license from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture and Consumer Trade Protection (DATCP). In Bayfield County, the agency in charge for processing state license applications is the Bayfield County Health Department.


      • Tourist Rooming Houses are classified as either short term rentals or bed and breakfast establishments. Check this page for the code applied to short term rentals, and this page for the code covering beds and breakfasts.
      • See this Short Term Rental Guide for comprehensive information on Wisconsin’s laws regarding short term rentals.
      • Follow the guidelines set out by the Bayfield County Health Department as outlined in the Tourist Rooming House Requirement Checklist.
      • Complete the Permit Application Form and process your application with the Bayfield County Health Department.


    1. Obtain Local Permits

      Most municipalities in Bayfield County require a zoning permit from the county Planning and Zoning Department. However, vacation rentals and lodging establishments in the City of Bayfield are covered by local ordinances.Tourist Rooming Houses in the city must have a Short Term Rental (STR) license issued by the city government. The license covers lodging places that are offered for rent for less than 29 days, but does not include hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast establishments. This license is a new requirement that took effect only in January, 2020.In obtaining an STR license, no additional inspections will be conducted on these lodging places. All inspections will be carried out as part of the application for the State Lodging License.STRs must also obtain a room tax permit from the city government.Bed and breakfast establishments are covered by a Conditional Use Permit, that also comes with a B&B Affidavit for New Applications, and a B&B Affidavit Annual Certification.


  1. Advertise Your Cabin Rental

    Take professional photos of your property and make sure you highlight its best features. In listing your rental, be as detailed and as accurate as possible with your descriptions.Choose the platforms on where to list the property. Understand each one’s policies and procedures to ensure your compliance and avoid problems down the road. The top short term rental portals like Airbnb and VRBO are good choices because of their wide reach and well defined structure.Bayfield County Tourism advertises all licensed rentals on their websites. See this page to find out how. The Bayfield City Chamber of Commerce can also include your listing on their website.

Invest in a Vacation Cabin in Bayfield, Northern Wisconsin With Windseeker Realty

We will be happy to guide you to the property that’s perfect for you, whether you’re looking for your personal sanctuary or want to start a vacation rental business. We are proud locals and experts in Northern Wisconsin real estate, including the communities of Bayfield, Washburn, Cornucopia, and more.

Get in touch with us at [ai_phone href=”+1.715.779.5000″]715.779.5000[/ai_phone] or email us at [mail_to email=”” style=”color:black;”][/mail_to].

Get in touch with Windseeker Realty, one of the top real estate companies in Northern Wisconsin, at 715.779.500 You can also send us an email at

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