• A mid-afternoon veiw down the expanse of Isle Royale National Park.  Photo taken from the Mount Ojibway Fire Tower.

    Isle Royale

    National Park Michigan

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  • Unmanned aircraft including hobbyists

    All waters and lands within the boundary of Isle Royale National Park have been closed to the use of unmanned aircraft including radio-controlled airplanes, hexacopters, and similar items. More »

Frequently Asked Questions

Pets

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.


Bugs

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.


Access

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.


Activities

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!


Camping

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?
Yes, but a $4 per person per day User Fee is collected by the transportation service for each day you are on the Island.

Can we car camp or bicycle camp at Isle Royale?
No vehicles or wheeled devices are allowed on the island. You can camp in your boat, at dock, or anchored out and if you prefer you may travel by foot or canoe/kayak and select sites from over 35 different campgrounds.

Are there showers at the campsites on Isle Royale?
No, showers are available on the Islands northeast side at Rock Harbor and at the southwest side at Windigo.

Are there storage lockers on the Island?
No, there are no storage lockers on the Island. The concession operation at Rock Harbor and Windigo do offer a service to store gear for a fee. The box of gear cannot contain stove fuel or food. Contact the Rock Harbor Lodge office for more information - (906) 337-4993.

If campsites can be boated to, does this mean by boat, or ferry?
The Ranger III, originating in Houghton, Michigan and the Isle Royale Queen IV, from Copper Harbor, Michigan, carry visitors to and from Rock Harbor. The Wenonah, which originates in Grand Portage, Minnesota, transports visitors to and from Windigo. The Voyageur II, from Grand Portage, Minnesota, drops off and picks up hikers at Rock Harbor, Daisy Farm, Chippewa Harbor, Malone Bay, Windigo, McCargoe Cove, and Belle Isle. A "water taxi" from Rock Harbor can pick up or drop off hikers on the eastern half of Isle Royale between Malone Bay and McCargoe Cove. Private boaters can access numerous campgrounds, including Beaver Island, Belle Isle, Birch Island, Caribou Island, Chippewa Harbor, Daisy Farm, Duncan Bay, Duncan Narrows, Grace Island, Hay Bay, Malone Bay, McCargoe Cove, Merritt Lane, Moskey Basin, Rock Harbor, Siskiwit Bay, Three Mile, Todd Harbor, Tookers Island, and Windigo. Additionally, canoeists and kayakers can access a number of campgrounds including - Lake Whittlesey, Wood Lake, Intermediate Lake, and Lake Richie Canoe Campground (portages are required).

How do I make food drops on Isle Royale National Park?
For information on how you can receive a food drop click here.

Fees

Are there any group rates or discounts?

Group rates are available when you ride the Ranger III, from Houghton, Michigan. For rate information, call 906-482-0984. Park specific "season passes" offer a discount to visitors who stay longer than 12 days during the season or who travel by boat with several people on board.

What would it cost 2 adults to stay in the park 4 days?
A user fee of $4 per person per day is charged while visiting Isle Royale National Park. Two adults for four days would run $32. If each adult were to spend 13 or more days on Isle Royale or wanted to contribute towards the support of the National Park Service, they could purchase one of the optional passes, Individual pass for $50.00 or a season boat rider pass for $150.00.

How do I pay the User Fee?
Most visitors pay their user fee to the transportation service, prior to departure to Isle Royale National Park. Private boaters have the option of either paying on-line, at the Houghton, Rock Harbor, or Windigo Visitor Centers.

What happens with the fee if I change my itinerary while on Isle Royale?
Campers extending their stay will be required to request a camping permit and pay additional fees at the Rock Harbor or Windigo Visitor Centers. Those that depart the island early, should request a refund from their transportation service provider.

Can I wait to pay my User Fee until returning from my camping trip?
You will need to pay your User Fee in advance of your visit to Isle Royale National Park or upon arrival to the Rock Harbor or Windigo Visitor Centers.


General Information

How can I receive information about Isle Royale National Park - maps, books, brochures, trip planning...?
We are happy to mail information to you - but before you request a packet, please explore the website. The website will answer the vast majority of your questions, and you don't have to wait for the mailing. This procedure will save taxpayers some money in postage. If you would like printed information, please go to the Contact Us section on the Park Home page.


Permits and Reservations

I plan to bring a group of 7 girl scouts and 3 adult leaders to Isle Royale and hike. What do I need to know?
Groups of six or less obtain a regular camping permit when they arrive at Isle Royale or while en route on the Ranger III, from Houghton, Michigan. Groups of seven to ten are officially classified as "groups" and must obtain advance reservations to camp at Isle Royale. If there are more than ten people, then you must split into two groups with completely separate itineraries and both groups must obtain advance group camping permits.


Programs

Are there certain park tours that are a lot better than others?

Which tours will fit your needs best really depend on you. How vigorous an excursion do you want? How long do you want to be involved? Evening programs are quite popular at Rock Harbor and Windigo as a time to learn about Isle Royale after a day of exploring. Short talks and nature walks work well for day visitors and those needing less strenuous activity. Guided hikes to Passage Island and Lookout Louise are good for those with a half a day who want to stretch their legs and seek a new view or new knowledge.


Trivia

What is the name of the largest island in the largest lake on the largest island on the largest (surface area) fresh water lake in the world? (use on Jeopardy)

Ryan Island is the answer and is found in Siskiwit Lake, which is the largest lake on Isle Royale, and Isle Royale is the largest island in Lake Superior.

What is the highest point on Isle Royale?
Mount Desor is 1394 feet above sea level and lake superior is 601 feet above sea level.

Did You Know?

Eastern Gray Wolf portrait.

The Ecological Study of Wolves on Isle Royale is the longest running large mammal predator-prey study on earth. The park offers outstanding possibilities for research in a remote, relatively simple ecosystem where overt human influences are limited.