2022 Mount Franklin Fire on Isle Royale

Smoke rises from a burnt hillside.
The Mount Franklin Fire was detected on the morning of August 13, 2022.

NPS / Bridget Byrne

On the morning of August 13, 2022, smoke was seen billowing over Isle Royale, near Three Mile campground. The plume could be seen from the Mott Island dock, where viewers gathered and came to a familiar conclusion: Isle Royale was on fire.

This smokey scene induced visions of the Horne Fire, which burned approximately 335 acres on the island's northeast end almost exactly a year before. Fire had been absent from Isle Royale's landscape for a long time, but now, two wildfires had ignited on Isle Royale in just as many years.

Similar to 2021, the summer of 2022 was warm and dry across the northern midwest. Once again, conditions on Isle Royale were just right for a wildfire. The Mount Franklin Fire ignited on a small ridge at the junction of the Tobin Harbor Trail and the Mount Franklin Trail.

A charred, smokey ground during a wildfire.
Fire smolders in the thick duff layers of Isle Royale's soil.

NPS / Bridget Byrne

Island Ablaze...Again

The fire was initially estimated at 10 acres. When it was detected and responded to on the afternoon of August 13, it was clear a blaze had run through the rocky outcroppings - the once brushy landscape was now barren with ash, and trees were blackened and crispy.

For the duration of the incident, fire acitivity was minimal - creeping was exhibited, with the occasional tree torching. Eventually, the burn area was mapped, and the size of the fire was adjusted to 6 acres.

Cause and Management

A wildland firefighter holding a fire hose sprays the smoking ground.
A wildland firefighter using a fire hose to spray hot spots on the Mount Franklin Fire.

NPS / Bridget Byrne

Suppression Efforts

Wildland firefighters from two agencies across two states responded to the incident. A single-engine air tanker (SEAT) from Minnesota promptly delivered suppressant by scooping water from Lake Superior and strategically dropping it over the fire. Other suppression tactics included creating firelines, monitoring, and mopping up.

The Mount Franklin Fire was declared 100 percent contained on August 26, 2022.

New plants growing in a recently burned area.
Regrowth in the Mount Franklin Fire burn area.

NPS / Bridget Byrne

Lasting Impact

The Mount Franklin Fire was on a hot, dry, rocky ridge covered in fire-adapted species, such as jack pine and blueberry. In its wake, the fire left behind many dead and down jack pine, but the species relies on fire for reproduction. The conifer's cones are serotinous - meaning they're sealed shut, only to be opened by intense, direct sunlight or fire.

Being Isle Royale's second wildfire in as many years, the Mount Franklin Fire is a reminder that the island's ecosystem is one of fire adaptation. As the six charred acres begin to regrow, what will rise from the ashes?


  • A fire near Three Mile campground is detected by eyewitness account and visitor reports.
  • Isle Royale fire personnel and park rangers respond to the incident.
  • Mount Franklin, Lane Cove, Tobin Harbor trails, and portions of the Rock Harbor and Greenstone Ridge trails are cleared and blocked off for visitor safety.
  • Visitors are evacuated from Three Mile and Lane Cove campgrounds.
  • Isle Royale Superintendent issues closure orders affecting the Mount Ojibway Trail, Lane Cove trail and campground, Three Mile campground and dock, Greenstone Ridge Trail from the Daisy Farm Trail junction east to the Tobin-Duncan Portage Trail junction, Rock Harbor Trail between Daisy Farm Campground and Rock Harbor, Mount Franklin Trail, Tobin Harbor Trail, Suzy’s Cave Trail, and Cross-Country Camping Zones 8, 8A, 9A, 10, 11, 12, 13, 33, and 36.
  • A single-engine airtanker (SEAT) drops five loads of water (approximately 4,000 gallons) on the fire.

  • A Type 3 incident commander from the Hiawatha National Forest arrives on Isle Royale and assumes command of the fire.
  • A ten-person wildland fire hand crew from the Superior National Forest arrives on Isle Royale to assist with fire management.

  • Favorable weather conditions begin to slow the spread of the fire.
  • Isle Royale Superintendent issues an updated closure order affecting the Greenstone Ridge Trail from the Ojibway Trail Junction east to the Tobin-Duncan Portage Trail Junction, Lane Cove Trail (Lane Cove Campground open to paddlers), Mount Franklin Trail, Tobin Harbor Trail between the Mount Franklin Trail and Suzy’s Cave Trail (Suzy’s Cave Trail open), north side of Three Mile Dock, and Cross-Country Camping Zones 8, 8A, 9A, 10, 11, 12, 33, 36.

  • Superior National Forest wildland fire hand crew departs Isle Royale.

  • The Mount Franklin Fire is declared 100 percent contained.
  • All trails, campgrounds, and docks are reopened.
  • Cross-Country Camping Zones 8A, 9A, 10, 11A, and 12A remain closed indefinitely due to ongoing hazards from both the Mount Franklin Fire and 2021 Horne Fire.

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    Isle Royale National Park

    Last updated: September 14, 2023