Isle Royale National Park

Isle Royale National Park

Quick Facts

Isle Royale National Park

Michigan

(906) 482-0984

Map Directions

Things To Do

Overview

Wolves and moose, the wild North Woods forest, everchanging weather and a cool climate, and the crystal clear waters and rugged shoreline of Lake Superior characterize Isle Royale National Park. This wilderness archipelago is 45 miles long and nine miles wide at its widest point. The park encompasses a total area of 850 square miles including submerged lands which extends four and a half miles out into Lake Superior. The archipelago is composed of many parallel ridges resulting from ancient lava flows which were tilted and glaciated. Isle Royale has 165 miles of scenic hiking trails and 36 campgrounds for backpackers and recreational boaters. There is excellent fishing, historic lighthouses and shipwrecks, ancient copper mining sites, and plenty of spots to observe wildlife. Roadless Isle Royale is accessible only by boat or float plane. Dogs, cats, and other pets are not allowed within park boundaries, which extend 4.5 miles into Lake Superior from the outermost land areas of the park. Isle Royale is relatively untouched by direct outside influences and serves as a living laboratory and United States Biosphere Reserve.

Map of Isle Royale

Latitude, Longitude: 47.991760, -88.884888

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Activities

  • Boating

    With numerous lakes, bays and islands, Isle Royale National Park provides many miles of waterways for the experienced canoeist and kayaker. Lake Superior is well known for its cold temperatures, fog, and sudden squalls that can generate waves that could easily swamp a canoe. This along with scarce outer shore landing sites adds to the potential danger. Small, open vessels are discouraged from entering these cold treacherous Lake Superior waters and are encouraged to use the numerous miles of waterways that the inland lakes provide. Canoeists and kayakers should be familiar with weather patterns and consult the Marine Forecast at ranger stations and visitor centers before embarking. Be prepared to adjust your schedule to the weather. A portable marine radio is recommended. Canoe routes and portages are on the eastern half of the Island. Portages are marked with an indented P on a post. The use of wheeled portage devices is prohibited. Canoes with motors are permitted on Lake Superior waters and must have a State Registration. It is illegal to use or transport motors, even if not being used, through inland lakes. Canoe, kayak, and motorboat rentals are available at Windigo and Rock Harbor.

  • Camping

    All campsites on Isle Royale offer tent sites and/or three-sided shelters. Shelter and tent sites are available on a firstcome, first-serve basis. Shelters may not be reserved and may not be used solely for cooking or storage of gear. Tents may not be erected at shelter sites. Be gentle with screen doors on shelters to minimize intrusive noise and to prevent damage. Expect crowded conditions at park campsites during mid-July through August. When sites are full, campers will be asked to double up and share empty tent pad space. Campers must stay in established campsites unless off-trail arrangements are made at the time the permit is obtained. Off-trail hiking and camping is difficult at Isle Royale, and is only recommended for experienced campers.

  • Fishing

    A Michigan fishing license is required when fishing in Lake Superior waters. No license is needed to fish inland lakes and streams, but Michigan size and possession limits apply and only artificial lures are allowed. Ask a ranger about proper disposal of fish remains. To curb the spread of exotic species, plan your trip so that you complete your inland fishing prior to fishing in Lake Superior waters, or change your fishing line and thoroughly wipe off your tackle prior to fishing in the inland lakes. You can also use boiling water at the campsite on your fishing gear to kill any "hitchhikers".

  • Hiking

    If you only have a few hours to spend on Isle Royale, day hiking is an excellent way to get into the backcountry for solitude and exploration. There are a number of short hikes available, from a 1-mile jaunt near Windigo to a 4-mile loop out to Scoville Point near Rock Harbor. Whichever hike you decide to take, be sure to bring a daypack with water, snacks, raingear, and a first aid kit. Be sure to wear sturdy boots or tennis shoes that are broken in. Some hikes are ranger-led, check the program schedule at the visitor centers.

  • Historic Sites

    Touring is available.

  • Picnicking

    Picnicking is permitted throughout the park.

  • Water Sports

    Lake Superior maintains a variety of shipwrecks in outstanding condition for exploration and photography. These sunken vessels are protected by the National Park Service as cultural treasures to be enjoyed by you, the experienced scuba diver. In order to preserve fragile Isle Royale offers exciting scuba diving opportunities. Here the cold waters of Lake natural and cultural resources, the inland lakes, all land-associated underwater cultural sites and the Passage Island small boat cove are closed to diving.

  • Winter Sports

    Cross-country skiiers and snowshoers are welcome to use the trails during winter.

Seasonality/Weather

Lake Superior weather is cool throughout the operating season, causing dense fog in spring and summer months. The lake's water temperature rarely exceeds 52 degrees Fahrenheit, while Island temperatures rarely exceed 80 degrees. Thunderstorms and rain occur throughout the season, causing rapid changes in wind and wave conditions. Weather and rough seas rarely delay departures to and from the island.

Park Partners

Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association

(800) 678-6925

Rock Harbor Lodge

Forever Resorts operates Isle Royale Resorts and Rock Harbor Lodge, which is located on the shores of Lake Superior and offers stunning views. Rock Harbor Lodge provides rooms with private baths. There are also cottages available and services include a dining room, snack bar, gift shop and dockside store. Nearby are the marina, rental motor boats, kayaks and canoes, guided fishing and sightseeing tours for those who wish to venture out onto the lake. The Greenstone Grill is located inside the Rock Harbor Lodge.

(906) 337-4993

Directions

Driving

Vehicles are not permitted on Isle Royale. Visitors park their cars in Houghton, Michigan; Copper Harbor, Michigan; or Grand Portage, Minnesota and ride passenger ferries to the island, or fly with Isle Royale Seaplane Service to the island from Houghton, Michigan.

Flying

Regular seaplane service is provided by the Royale Air Service based out of the Houghton County Airport. They can be reached by calling toll-free 877-359-4753, or emailing RoyaleAirService@aol.com, or write Royale Air Service, Inc., P.O. Box 15184, Duluth, Minnesota 55815.

Public Transportation

Passenger ferries from Houghton, Michigan; Copper Harbor, Michigan; and Grand Portage, Minnesota provide boat access to Isle Royale. Seaplane service is provided from Houghton, Michigan.

Phone Numbers

Primary

(906) 482-0984

Links