Frequently Asked Questions

Camping, Fees, General Information, Permits and Reservations, Pets, Programs, Service Dogs, Transportation

Bugs

How are the mosquitoes and black flies on Isle Royale?
Mosquitoes and black flies typically hatch around late May to early June. Typically, they are the worst in late June and early July. Please contact the park for the most up-to-date information regarding conditions in the park.

 

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 follow their permit's itinerary. Permits are obtained on the Ranger III en route to Isle Royale, or at the Rock Harbor or Windigo Visitor Centers upon arrival with other transportation providers. Groups of 7 to 10 must obtain advance reservations, 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 that you share with another camping party. The sites are large enough to accommodate multiple tents and people.

Is camping free on Isle Royale?

Yes, but there is an entrance fee.

Can we car camp or bicycle camp at Isle Royale?

No vehicles or wheeled devices (except wheelchairs) are allowed on the island. You can camp in your boat at dock or anchored out. You can also travel by foot or canoe/kayak, and select sites from one of 36 campgrounds.

Are there showers at the campsites on Isle Royale?
Showers are available on the island's northeast end at Rock Harbor and at the southwest end at Windigo. Contact the park prior to your trip for the most up-to-date information regarding shower availability.

Are there storage lockers on the Island?
No, there are no storage lockers on the Island. The concession operation at Rock Harbor and Windigo does 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.

If campsites can be boated to, does this mean by private 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 only. The Seahunter III, which originates in Grand Portage, Minnesota, transports visitors to and from Windigo only. 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 reserved "water taxi" from Rock Harbor can pick up or drop off hikers at select sites on the eastern half of Isle Royale.

Is white gas for campers' stoves available during the 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 island?
No wheeled vehicles are permitted on Isle Royale, including bicycles or canoe portage devices. Wheelchairs are permitted.

 
Fees

Are there any group rates or discounts?

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.

How do I pay the Entrance Fee?
Isle Royale Queen IV, Seahunter III, Voyageur II, and Isle Royale Seaplanes passengers should pay their entrance fee in advance at pay.gov to avoid congestion and long waits upon arrival. Bring your receipt to the park to show proof of payment upon arrival. Ranger III passengers pay the Entrance Fee when they make their reservation. You cannot pay the Entrance Fee after returning from a camping trip.

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

General Information

How can I receive information about the 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. If you wish to receive a mailing, please contact park or email the park with your name and address information.

Where can I purchase a navigational map for the park?
Navigational maps for land or water trips can be purchased through the Isle Royale & Keweenaw Parks Association.

What time zone is the island on?
Isle Royale National Park is on eastern time, since it is part of Keweenaw County, Michigan. Be aware that transportation providers travel on the time zone where their home port is. Check with your transportation provider before you embark on you trip to ensure you are traveling on the correct time.

Do cell phones work in the park?

Cell phone service is not reliable on Isle Royale National Park - do not depend on it for your trip. Occasionally you may pick up a signal if you are on a high ridge - be aware that this may be a Canadian tower, and additional fees through your cell phone carrier may apply. When the Rock Harbor Trading Post in Rock Harbor and Windigo Store in Windigo are open, there is a satellite phone available for visitor use (additional fees do apply).

Is there Wi-Fi available for visitor use?

Unfortunately there is no Wi-Fi service available to visitors in the park.

 

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 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. Check out the group camping page for more information.

Where do I get a back country camping permit?

If you take the Ranger III ferry to the park, you will be issued your backcountry permit during your ride to the island. If you take any of the other transportation services, you will be issued your back country permit at the Visitors Center upon arriving at the island.
 
Pets

Can I bring my dog to Isle Royale?
Dogs, cats and other mammals are not allowed. This includes pets on boats within the park boundaries, which extend 4 ½ miles into 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.

Can I bring my service dog to the island?
Service dogs are welcome on Isle Royale. However, a service dog permit must be obtained prior to your trip. Obtaining this permit involves receiving the proper paperwork from the park, consulting a licensed veterinarian no more then 15 days prior to your park visit, and having the permit signed by the park superintendent or representative. Consult the service dog webpage for the specific details. Without the service dog permit, your dog will not be allowed on Isle Royale.
 
Programs

Are there certain park tours that are better than others?

Which tours will fit your needs best really depends 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 they provide a time to learn about Isle Royale after a day of exploring. Short talks and nature walks work well for day visitors and those wanting less strenuous activity. Guided tours 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 knowledge.
 
Transportation to the Island

Is there public transportation service between Houghton, Michigan (where the Ranger III departs) and Copper Harbor (departure point for the Isle Royale Queen IV)?

There is no public transportation from Houghton to Copper Harbor, but taxi cabs are available.

If I take the Ranger III to Isle Royale and return on the Isle Royale Queen IV, can I leave my vehicle in Houghton?
Yes, you will need to park your vehicle in the upper lot, east of the Krist Gas Station, outside of the gated area. The Isle Royale Queen IV arrives in Copper Harbor, Michigan around 6:00 pm 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 pm EDT. By parking your vehicle outside the gates you will have access to it.

How many trips per week does the Ranger III make to Isle Royale during peak season (May-Sept)?
The Ranger III begins carrying visitors to Isle Royale the last week of May 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 am EDT, Tuesday and Friday through the passenger season. Passengers are asked to arrive by 8:00 am EDT; Canoes/kayaks should arrive by 7:45 am EDT and private boats at 7:30 am EDT.

Are there any days that the Ranger III does NOT run during the passenger season?
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 Seahunter III from Grand Portage, Minnesota or the Isle Royale Queen IV from Copper Harbor, Michigan. Unfortunately the layover of 3 to 4 hours allows only a brief glimpse of the immediate area and will allow time only for a short nature walk.

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 (except wheelchairs) 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. Selection will be left up to visitors on what services they choose.

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931

Phone:

(906) 482-0984

Contact Us