• 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 »


Painted Turtle

The only turtle present on the island, the western painted turtle, is quite common in lakes and ponds and can often be seen basking on logs during sunny days. Painted turtles spend the winter hibernating in mud underwater and may occasionally be active under the ice.

Only two species of snake occupy the island, the northern red-bellied snake and common garter snake. Although common garter snakes are indeed common and regularly observed, the small, copper-brown colored northern red-bellied snakes are easily overlooked. Common garter snakes at Isle Royal often have strikingly different color variations within the population. Colors range from the typical black with creamy stripes, to light or very strong red-orange spots or stripes, to black with deep blue stripes that often make a snake look completely black. Researchers in the park have determined that up to 40% of the garter snake population exhibits extreme color variation. Surprisingly, this color variation is very stable and was noted in similar proportions as far back as 1928.

To view a list of the island's reptiles, click here.

Did You Know?

Areal view of the Island's northshore.

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.