Ludington Pierhead Lighthouse

Ever since our first trip to Ludington, I have wanted to take the S.S. Badger car ferry across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. But, at $131 per person round trip (not including a vehicle), it was always too expensive for us to justify for a short trip. Not to mention, without a vehicle, there is not much to do in Manitowac, Wisconsin on the other side of the lake. Well, this summer’s road trip allowed us to finally be able to justify the expense of this experience.

Deck of the S.S. BadgerThe S.S. Badger is a historic steamship car ferry offering service from Ludington, Michigan to Manitowac, Wisconsin. Built in 1952, the Badger is the last coal-fired passenger ship operating in the United States and is a National Historic Landmark. Originally built to move railroad cars across the lake, in the 1990’s the Badger transformed into a passenger ferry for cars, RVs, and commercial trucks. Running from May to October, the Badger takes about 450 trips across the lake each year. The trip takes about four hours and is a good way to relax and enjoy the beauty of the great lakes while immersing yourself in history.

In a year without cruising, this was a good way to get a little bit of that cruise experience, laying in a deck chair watching the water. They were even playing trivia and bingo inside. It was easy to forget that we were on Lake Michigan and not in the Caribbean.

Taking a trip on the S.S. Badger fit in perfectly with this trip and I am very glad that we did it, but I’m not itching to do it again. The four-hour crossing is long and waiting to get our car probably took an additional hour. It was late by the time we got into camp that night. Nowadays, there is a faster (albeit more expensive) option that runs from Milwaukee to Muskegon in only two and a half hours. If you’ve never taken the Badger, it is an experience I highly recommend. Just pack your patience and make sure you have nowhere to be that evening.

Thanks for stopping by! To read more about this trip, check out our Great Lakes – Great Summer Road Trip Report. To read about some of our previous trips, click here. If you like my photos be sure to “like” my Facebook Page, follow me on Instagram! You can purchase prints on Etsy and Fine Art America. To see inside my camera bag, check out my Gear Page. For information about our new Guided Photography Tours, visit

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