Frequently Asked Questions
Can I bring my dog to Isle Royale?
No! Dogs, cats and other pets are not allowed. This includes pets on boats within the park boundaries, which extend 4 ½ miles in to Lake Superior from the outermost land areas of the park. Visitors bringing pets to Isle Royale will be required to leave immediately. Pets disturb wildlife and can transmit diseases, particularly to wolves. Special conditions apply to guide dogs. Please contact the park for further information.
How are the mosquitoes and black flies on Isle Royale?
The mosquitoes and black flies typically hatch around late May and early June. They are the worst in late June and early July and usually start to die off near the end of July.
Is there public transportation service between Houghton, Michigan (where the Ranger III departs) and Copper Harbor (departure point for the Isle Royale Queen IV)?
Yes, taxi service in Houghton or Calumet can provide service between these towns.
If I take the Ranger III to Isle Royale and return on the Queen IV, Can I leave my vehicle in Houghton?
Yes, you will need to park your vehicle in our upper lot, east of the Citgo Gas Station, outside of the gated area. The Queen IV arrives in Copper Harbor, Michigan around 6:00 p.m. The drive to Houghton is approximately one hour and fifteen minutes from Copper Harbor. During the summer season the Houghton Visitor Center closes its gates at 6:00 p.m. E.D.T. By parking your vehicle outside our gates you will have access to it.
How many trips per day does the Ranger III make to Isle Royale during peak season (May-Sept)?
The Ranger III begins carrying visitors to Isle Royale the first week of June and makes two trips per week to Isle Royale, every Tuesday and Friday, returning each Wednesday and Saturday through the second week of September.
What is the scheduled time of departure from Houghton, Michigan?
The Ranger III departs Houghton for Isle Royale at 9:00 a.m. EDT, Tuesday and Friday through the passenger season. Passengers are asked to arrive by 8:15 a.m., canoes/kayaks should arrive by 7:45 a.m. and private boats at 7:30 a.m.
Are there any days that the Ranger III does NOT run during the passenger season?
No, if the departure/arrival dates falls on a Holiday, the Ranger III will still travel to or from the Island. The only time the Ranger III
would not travel to the Island would be due to a mechanical failure or a result of inclement weather.
Is it possible to see the park in one day?
It is possible to visit Isle Royale for a day trip using the Wenonah from Grand Portage, Minnesota or the Isle Royale Queen IV from Copper Harbor, Michigan. Unfortunately the layover of 2.5 to 3.75 hours allows only a brief glimpse of the immediate area and will allow time only for a short nature walk. To explore the backcountry, you will need to spend multiple days. Another consideration would be to establish a camp at Washington Creek or McCargoe Cove Campground (3 night maximum stay) and venture out on day hikes. Other campgrounds accessible by ferry offer day hiking possibilities as well. One could base camp at Washington Creek for 3 days, then continue on the Voyageur II to McCargoe Cove to spend another 3 days. Or do the same thing at Daisy Farm and Moskey Basin, with either a hike or a water taxi in between.
Is there lodging in Grand Portage?
Yes. Lodging is available, but limited. Additional lodging can be found south of Grand Portage, Minnesota.
Is it possible to bring a car on the ferry to the island?
To preserve its wilderness integrity, vehicles and wheeled devices are not allowed on Isle Royale National Park. The approved modes of transportation include hiking, boating, canoeing, and kayaking.
What boat trip from Michigan would you recommend?
There are two boats that service the Island from Michigan, the Ranger III from Houghton and the Isle Royale Queen IV from Copper Harbor. Both services have their own benefits and selection will be left up to our visitors on what services they select.
Is white gas for camper's stoves available during early and late season when the Isle Royale Resorts is closed?
The Visitor Centers at Windigo and Rock Harbor sell white gas from mid-May to mid-June and mid-September through the end of September when the stores at those locations are closed.
Is there off-road biking on the Isle?
No wheeled vehicles are permitted on Isle Royale, including bicycles or canoe portage devices. Wheelchairs are permitted.
Is taking pictures of wildlife okay?
Yes, observe, photograph, and enjoy park wildlife from a safe distance. Use binoculars or a zoom lens “to get closer” to the wildlife. If animals flee, become defensive, or change their natural activities in your presence, you are too close!
We would like to go to Isle Royale for an overnight camping trip, but there are only 2 of us and I read that you only take reservations for groups of 7 or more.
Parties of 6 or less are defined as "individual parties", meaning that reservations cannot be made. Parties of 6 or less,
unlike groups, do not have to stick to their permits itinerary. They obtain permits on the Ranger III en route to Isle Royale, or at the Rock Harbor or Windigo Visitor Centers. Groups of 7 to 10 must obtain advance reservations and must camp in group campsites and must stick to their itinerary.
What are my chances of getting a campsite during the busy season?
Isle Royale's busy season is from mid-July through mid-August. If campsites are full, we ask you to double up with another camping party. The sites are big enough so that you are not on-top of one another.
Is camping free on Isle Royale?
Did You Know?
Isle Royale was designated as a Biosphere Reserve on February 17, 1981. It is part of a program designed to protect examples of the different ecosystems of the world and to encourage research. It was chosen for its unspoiled nature and represents the northern lake forest biome.