Isle Royale National Park
Guide

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Introduction

Surrounded by Lake Superior and situated far away to the southeast of Thunder Bay, Isle Royale National Park is perfect for remote adventures and quiet reflection. This 207 sq. mile national park in Michigan features more than 400 small islands and sits on the largest natural island in Lake Superior.

Accessible by boats and seaplane, Isle Royale National Park offers loads of recreational opportunities for visitors and campers ranging from boating activities to canoeing and kayaking on the park’s waters. Day hiking opportunities are also available in the park for campers and visitors who love to stretch their legs. Moreover, with more than 40 documented fish species in Lake Superior and inland lakes in the park, anglers always have something to catch when they fish in the park. Bird watching is also a popular activity here.

Experienced scuba divers will find shipwrecks in the cold waters of Lake Superior, enjoy opportunities to explore these cultural resources and take photographs too. Guided tours and children’s programs are also offered at Isle Royale National Park.

There are no RV campsites and facilities at the park. 36 walk-in campgrounds are, however, available.

Park Alerts (1)

[Park Closure] Island Closed from November 1 through April 15 Annually

From November 1 - April 15 annually, Isle Royale and its surrounding islands are closed to all visitors. Lake Superior waters are open to boaters. All islands reopen April 16. The Houghton Visitor Center remains open Monday - Friday all year.

RV Rentals in Isle Royale National Park

Transportation in Isle Royale National Park

Driving

Located to the northwest of Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park is accessible only by seaplane or boat, and does not have roads, making vehicle access impossible.

Parking

There are no parking areas available at Isle Royale National Park.

Public Transport

Passenger ferry services and a seaplane provide public transportation to Isle Royale National Park.

Campgrounds and parking in Isle Royale National Park

Campsites in Isle Royale National Park

Reservations camping

Isle Royale Campgrounds

Isle Royale National Park features 36 campgrounds that are accessible only by foot and watercraft. Within the campsites in the campgrounds, there are water sources and outdoor toilets. Some of the campsites also have picnic tables and picnic shelters. There are no RV facilities or amenities at the campgrounds.

Some of the campgrounds are reservable, while other are available on first-come, first-served basis. Fire is not allowed in majority of the campground, neither are pets allowed in any campground. Quiet hours are from 10pm to 6am.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Seasonal activities in Isle Royale National Park

Spring

Kayaking

There are miles of waterways available for kayakers and canoeists on the bays, islands and lakes at Isle Royale National Park. Kayakers and canoeists who visit the park with small, open vessels are advised to enjoy their recreational activities on the inland lakes, while the large bays should be used by visitors with large vessels (at least 15 feet long). The use of recreational kayaks in the park is not recommended, rather, visitors and campers should use sea kayaks which are about 16 feet or more long.

Boating

Featuring more than 400 islands, Isle Royale National Park is a great place to enjoy boating adventures, particularly as there are many docks and anchorages available for sailboaters and powerboaters to use. Before any visitors or campers can boat in the park, they must obtain a permit, which should be displayed on the boat when at dock, at anchor, or anywhere in the park.

Boating on Lake Superior can be quite challenging as the weather is often dangerous with high winds, fog, thunderstorms, and waves. As a result, safe boating practices are recommended.

Summer

Birding

For a long time, people have watched and recorded birds at Isle Royale National Park. Reports dating back to the mid-1900s reveal that birds have been migrating along the park’s route, and settling there in summer. On your visit to the park, listen out for songbirds along sections of the trails in the park. Two peculiar birds in the park include the White Throated Sparrows and the Sandhill Cranes. Sandhill Cranes are commonly seen in the drained wetlands part of the park.

Fall

Fishing

Regardless of whether you’re fishing from a boat or on foot, you’re guaranteed an amazing angling experience at Isle Royale National Park. Lake Superior and the inland lakes in the park offer exciting spots to catch the wide variety of fish species available in the park. Lake trout, lake whitefish and brook trout are some of the common fish in Lake Superior, while you’ll find yellow perch, northern perch and walleye in the park’s lakes. All in all, there are more than 40 documented fish species at the park, so you have more than enough to seek out in the park’s waters. A Michigan fishing license is required to fish in Lake Superior.

Hiking

Cool hiking opportunities are available at Isle Royale National Park, and taking a walk in the park is one of the best ways to explore. Trails in the park vary from short, easy ones to long hiking trails. You’ll find these trails in both the Rock Harbor and Windigo areas of the park. When you are about to embark on the hiking adventure, be sure to have your snacks, water, first aid kit, and rain gear. Because the terrain is uneven, you should have sturdy hiking boots that can keep you safe on the trails. Safety is paramount!

Winter

Scuba Diving

The cold waters of Lake Superior offer wonderful scuba diving opportunities for visitors and campers so inclined. With the various well-preserved shipwrecks in the lake, divers can explore these vessels and take photographs. The park protects the shipwrecked vessels so that experienced scuba divers can enjoy them as cultural treasures. Be sure to protect yourself from the cold waters when diving.

The inland lakes in the park, as well as the Passage Island small boat cove are not available for scuba diving.

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