• 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

Laws & Policies

"What we are protecting and preserving here, so far as it is possible and practical to do so, are actually the processes of nature in which the only permanent thing is change, - change which is permitted to take place with the very minimum of human guidance or control. The essence of place is its wild beauty..."

Under Secretary of the Interior Oscar Chapman at the dedication of Isle Royale National Park, 1946

Superintendent's Compendium
In accordance with regulations and the delegated authority provided in Title 36, Code of Federal Regulations ("36 CFR"), Chapter 1, Parts 1-7, authorized by Title 16 United States Code, Section 3, the following provisions apply to all lands and waters administered by the National Park Service, within the boundaries of Isle Royale National Park. Unless otherwise stated, these regulatory provisions apply in addition to the requirements contained in 36 CFR, Chapter 1, Parts 1-7.

Written determinations that explain the reasoning behind the Superintendent's use of discretionary authority, as required by Section 1.5(c), appear in Section IV of this document. To view a copy of the Park Superintendent's Compendium, click here.

Firearms and other weapons

Legislation:

As of February 22, 2010, a new federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under applicable federal, state, and local laws to legally possess firearms in this park. Refer to Section 512 of the Credit Card Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009, Public Law 111-24, 123 Stat. 1764-65

Park User Responsibility:
It is the responsibility of visitors to understand and comply with all applicable state, local, and federal firearm laws before entering this park. As a starting point, please view the Michigan MCL Section 28.425b and visit the Michigan State Police website. Please note that Michigan does recognize some other state's concealed weapons permits and licenses.

Weapons Prohibited in Federal Facilities:
Federal law also prohibits firearms in certain facilities in this park; those places are marked with signs at all public entrances. Refer to 18 U.S.C. § 930 Possession of Firearms and dangerous weapons in Federal facilities.

Weapons restrictions aboard Federal vessels:
With regard to the Ranger III vessel operated by the National Park Service, loaded weapons are prohibited, including open carry and concealed weapons, aboard this vessel except by law enforcement and on duty military personnel. Visitors to Isle Royale National Park that travel to the island aboard the Ranger III and have a concealed weapons permit recognized by the state of Michigan and wish to transport their firearm to the island must received prior approval from the "Master of the Vessel". If granted the weapon will not be accessible while aboard the vessel, the firearm must be locked in a case, broken down and unloaded and declared to the "Master of the Vessel". Refer to 18 U.S.C. § 2277 Explosives and dangerous weapons aboard vessels.

Weapons restrictions aboard Concession Vessels:
With regard to concession vessels operating within the waters of Isle Royale National Park, federal law prohibits possession of firearms except by law enforcement or on duty military personnel, aboard any U.S. Coast Guard "documented" vessel unless prior permission from the "Master of the Vessel" has been obtained. If granted, the weapon will not be accessible while aboard the vessel, the firearm must be locked in a case, broken down, and unloaded and declared to the "Master of the Vessel". Refer to 18 U.S.C. § 2277 Explosives and dangerous weapons aboard vessels.

Weapons restrictions aboard Concession Seaplane:
With regard to aircraft operated by an authorized National Park concessionaire, open and concealed carry of firearms aboard any aircraft is prohibited, except by law enforcement officers per FAA regulations. Visitors to Isle Royale National Park that fly aboard commercial aircraft, and have a concealed weapons permit recognized by the state of Michigan, and wish to transport their firearm to the island must receive prior approval from the pilot. If granted, the weapon will not accessible in the cabin of the aircraft, it will be transported in a locked case, broken down and unloaded and declared to the pilot.

A key point that needs to be emphasized with regard to this new law, the "USE" of firearms in parks is still prohibited as stated in the Code of Federal Regulations regardless of state laws.


Camping
Permits are required for all overnight stays at campgrounds, cross-country sites, docks, or at anchor, regardless of group size or method of travel.

Camping - Groups
For groups, parties of seven to ten, advance reservations are required. If your group party exceeds ten participants, you must split into two groups, each independent and traveling on completely separate itineraries. Organizations may not have more than twenty people camping on the island at any one time and are limited to eighty people per year. For additional information on group camping, click here.

Collecting
All natural objects including moose antlers, plants, driftwood, cultural or archeological resources, greenstones, agates, datolite, and other minerals, including those found in Lake Superior may not be removed or disturbed. Removing, possessing, or disturbing park resources is prohibited. Picking small quantities of berries and wild edibles for personal consumption is permitted.

Commercial Groups
Organizations that charge trip participants a fee or that compensate members or trip leaders in any way are commercial groups under federal law. This applies to both non-profit and for-profit organizations. Commercial groups must apply for and receive a commercial use license to conduct trips in the park. There is a fee for this permit. Applications are only accepted between January 2 and May 15; contact the park at (906) 482-0984 for additional information.

Fireworks
Fireworks are prohibited.

Human Waste
Never defecate within 200 feet (at least 75 steps) of lakes, streams, trails, gullies, or campsites. In areas without outhouses, select a site that visitors are unlikely to discover. With a trowel, dig a "cathole" six to eight inches deep and four to six inches in diameter. Place used toilet paper and fecal material in the hole. After use, cover the "cathole" with excavated soil. Pack out all used feminine-hygiene products.

Lost and found
Property may not be left unattended longer than 24 hours. Found property and lost property must be turned in or reported to the nearest visitor center.

Pets
Dogs, cats, and other pets are not allowed. This includes pets on boats within the park boundaries, which extend 4.5 miles into Lake Superior from the outermost land areas of the park. Visitors bringing pets will be required to leave immediately. Pets disturb wildlife and can transmit disease, particularly to wolves. Special conditions apply to service or guide dogs. Please contact the park for further information.

Quiet Hours
Quiet hours are between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. EDT, if people in adjacent campsites can hear your activities, you are being too loud.

Respect Wildlife
Observe, photograph, and enjoy park wildlife from a safe distance. If animals flee, become defensive, or change their natural activities in your presence, you are too close.

Keep wild animals wild by discouraging them from approaching humans. Practice proper food storage and keep a clean camp. It is illegal to feed, touch, tease, or intentionally disturb wildlife, their homes, nests, or activities.

Traps and Nets
The use or possession of traps and nets is prohibited.

Trash
Please pack-out everything you pack-in and if possible, dispose of it on the mainland. Leftover food, food-scraps, orange peels, nutshells, apple cores, twist-ties, candy wrappers, fishing line, and cigarette butts must be packed out. If you have food leftovers, either save and eat them later or pack them out. Do not burn, bury, or place trash, food scraps or garbage in outhouses. Please help keep the backcountry clean by packing-out what you pack-in.

Waste Water Disposal
Cleaning Cookware
Most cookware can be cleaned with hot water, a little elbow grease, and sand or other natural scrubbers. Clean cookware at least 200 feet (75 steps) from lakes, streams, trails, gullies, or campsites. Soap is unnecessary for most dishwashing jobs. Use these products sparingly and keep them at least 200 feet (75 steps) from water sources and campsites.

Use a small strainer or screen to remove food bits from water and pack them out with your garbage. The remaining gray water should be scattered or broadcast over a wide area away from camps and water sources.

Bathing/Cleaning Clothes
When bathing use soap only if necessary and use it sparingly. Conduct bathing on land at least 200 feet (75 steps) away from water sources or campsites. Rinse water can be carried in collapsible containers or pots. Clothes can be cleaned by taking them away from water sources and campsites and thoroughly rinsing them with plain water.

Wheeled vehicles and wheeled devices
Wheeled vehicles (except for wheelchairs) or other mechanical forms of transportation are not allowed on trails. This includes bicycles and portaging devices.

Did You Know?

A sunset silhouette of a backpacker on a ridge.

Although the yearly number of visitors to Isle Royale is less than Yellowstone receives in a day, the Island's per acre backcountry use is the highest of all National Parks in the United States.