• 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 »

RANGER III - General Information

Unloading a boat at Rock Harbor

Unloading a boat at Rock Harbor

National Park Service

Welcome aboard the Ranger III, one of the most unique ships to sail the Great Lakes. Unlike other Isle Royale ferry services, the Ranger III was designed by the National Park Service specifically to bridge the gap between the mainland and the Island. It was built to withstand the Lake's fierce storms and its ice breaking capabilities assist in opening the park in the spring. An experienced nine-member crew take great pride in not only maintaining the vessel, but in serving its passengers. The Ranger III's Captain, Bill Hanrahan, a graduate of the Great Lakes Maritime Academy, has over 30 years of experience.

The ship is just a tool for the crew to use, and as all tools it must be maintained. Major maintenance is conducted every five years when the ship goes into dry dock. During this dry docking, the ship is inspected, cleaned, painted, and upgraded with state-of-the-art equipment. This inspection is conducted by the U.S. Coast Guard and the American Bureau of Shipping. The Ranger III is then stringently inspected twice annually by both the U.S. Coast Guard and American Bureau of Shipping.

Your Isle Royale journey starts at this vessel's home port of Houghton, Michigan. The 73 mile journey takes 5 hours. During the first hour of the trip, the ship navigates the scenic shores of the Keweenaw Waterway, passing under the world's largest lift bridge. Once on the open water, the journey creates an opportunity to appreciate the size and breadth of the big lake. This allows visitors to shed the hustle and bustle of everyday life, preparing them for their wilderness adventure. As Isle Royale approaches, a picturesque seascape is revealed through the historic Rock Harbor Lighthouse. An hour later seafaring ends at your destination, Rock Harbor; but your backcountry adventure is about to begin.

So why not start your own Isle Royale adventure and make a reservation by using the following form. Welcome aboard!

 
A graphic representation of the Ranger III.
Motor Vessel Ranger III

Did You Know?

A dark shinning rock outcrop glistens from the rain.

The last glacier receded from this area about 10,000 years ago. As the glaciers melted, they formed a huge lake which permanently separated Isle Royale from the mainland. Today, the coolness of the big lake (Lake Superior) creates a climate in which artic plant species grow.