SS Badger – Bridging Lake Michigan

This entry is part [part not set] of 4 in the series SS Badger

This is part 1 of a series on the SS Badger connecting Highway 10 across Lake Michigan.


SS Badger – Bridging Lake Michigan

Stretching over 300 miles north to south, Lake Michigan is a giant roadblock. Travelling east or west through the northern tier of states this is problematic. You do have some options. The northern route around the lake leaves you with few route options on the west side as far as freeways and towns are concerned. If you go around the south end of the lake you will have to deal with large metropolitan areas, traffic and tolls.

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There is a third option we discovered while researching a motorcycle trip from Minnesota to Maine. For over 60 years the SS Badger has been carrying people, vehicles and cargo across Lake Michigan. The route we had chosen for the first part of our trip to Maine was US Highway 10. We like taking back roads when we can. It is a great way to see the country. The problem we had was that Highway 10 kind of dead ends in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.


This is where the SS Badger comes in. Serving as a water bridge for Highway 10, the ferry connects Highway 10 in Manitowoc with the continuation of Highway 10 in Ludington, Michigan. In fact on the back of the ship there is even a Highway 10 decal. The Highway 10 road signs lead you to and from the docks in both towns.


From our home in the Twin Cities it is a little over 300 miles to Manitowoc so it is a full day of riding when you stop often like we do. We chose to book our crossing on the SS Badger on day two of our trip. The ship leaves Manitowoc in the afternoon. That gave us the morning to explore Manitowoc before we had to get to the ferry dock.

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SS Badger arriving in Manitowoc. Waiting to board.

If you are looking for a great place to stay in Manitowoc we would suggest the Best Western Lakefront Hotel. It is located right on the harbor so it is convenient for catching the ferry. It is also right next to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum and is within easy walking distance to many restaurants in the downtown area of Manitowoc.

Best Western Lakeside on the Harbor in Manitowoc, WI.

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We took the SS Badger both ways across Lake Michigan on our trip and were really glad we did. It is a really pleasant experience. When you have been on a motorcycle for nearly three weeks, the opportunity to sit back, relax and watch the world go by is a real treat.



So what is it like to travel on the SS Badger? We had a great time during our two crossings of Lake Michigan. This is a ship not just a ferry. There are so many ammenities onboard that there is something for everyone. You have to play bingo……Really. The staff does a really great job.

Check out this video of driving the motorcycles off of the SS Badger and continuing west on Highway 10.

Ready to make a reservation on the SS Badger? Click HERE.

Interested in more information about Wisconsin or Michigan?

What’s it like to ride on the SS Badger? Check this out.


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About Dan Ashbach 792 Articles
Meet the Dan behind Dan330. He started a Pinterest account in December 2011 while off on a leave from his day job as a captain on an Airbus A330. While traveling the world, Dan practiced his longtime hobby of photography and developed his eye for natural beauty and appreciation of great photography. Continuing his love of exploration and great pictures, Dan added Pinterest to his daily routine; especially during the long Minnesota winters. His eye for great photography was recognized by the Pinterest community and in just under one year, Dan330 had attracted over one million followers. Dan and his wife Laurie have three children, seven grandchildren and two grand puppies. When not pinning, Dan loves to travel and participate in just about any outdoor activity. There are a few exceptions to this, but to find out what they are you have to go to the Dan330 board dedicated to “Things he won’t do”.