Meet the Ranger III Ferry

the blue Ranger III ferry boat on left approaching red buoy in right
Ranger III Ferry coming into the Keweenaw Waterway north entry. NPS Photo.
For update to date ferry information, including fees, schedules and regulations, visit the Isle Royale National Park Ranger III webpage.

About the Ranger III

The Ranger III is 165 feet long, 34 feet wide, 648 ton vessel that carries 128 passengers. A dedicated nine member crew takes great pride in maintaining the vessel and serving it's passengers. After former wooden hull ferries were taken out of service at Isle Royale, a surplus Army Minelayer, renamed the Ranger II, served visitors and cargo needs.

During the Eisenhower Administration, a program was initiated nationwide to rejuvenate National Park lands and its facilities. Under this "Mission 66" program, Isle Royale asked for and received a new ship, the Ranger III. Today, the island is serviced by the Ranger III, the largest vessel owned and operated by the National Park Service. In 1958, the Christy Corporation of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, built the Ranger III at a cost of 1.16 million dollars. Custom built for service to Isle Royale National Park, the Ranger III was a dream come true for park management, tourism promoters and park visitors.

Visitors to the Ranger III can enjoy the 73 mile 6 hour journey from Houghton Mighigan to Rock Harbor. They can also contact the park in advance to ask for a tour of the vessel itself! During the first hour of the trip, the ship navigates the scenic Keweenaw Waterway, passing under the world's largest lift bridge. Once on the open water of Lake Superior, riding the Ranger III allows one to appreciate the size and breadth of the world's largest fresh water lake (measured by surface area). As Isle Royale approaches, a picturesque seascape transitions to a rugged, lichen-covered shoreline and the historic Rock Harbor Lighthouse.

The park also offers a relaxing 3 hour cruise down the Portage Canal aboard the Ranger III. Cruises take place on select days in summer. The vessel has indoor and outdoor seating, four comfortable passenger lunges, and a luncheon grill. It is capable of transporting private boats up to 20 feet in length.


a view from the ranger iii deck looking out over the water at sunset
A view from the Ranger III. NPS Photo.

About Isle Royale National Park

A rugged, isolated island where wolves and moose abound far from the sights and sounds of civilization, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude and adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers. Isle Royale National Park is located in the northwest corner of Lake Superior. This Wilderness Island contains a road-less backcountry. There are four ferries and one seaplane that provide service to and from Isle Royale National Park

Last updated: January 25, 2018