Summer 2021 Boating Guide

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Isle Royale Boating During COVID-19

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Michigan Safe Start plan, and local public health authorities, Isle Royale is increasing recreational access to the park.

  • Boaters must obtain an overnight permit in advance from the Houghton Visitor Center at 906-482-0984.
  • Please pay entrance fees in advance at
  • When recreating, follow state and local area health orders, practice Leave No Trace principles, avoid crowding, and avoid high-risk outdoor activities. The CDC has offered guidance to help people recreating in parks to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Please check out the park's COVID-19 Boating FAQ for clarification.

Powerboats and sailboats docked.
Plan ahead to have a safe and enjoyable boating experience.


Isle Royale National Park regulations are intended to protect park resources and visitor experiences. Visitors are responsible for adhering to regulations. The park’s boundary extends 4-1/2 miles into Lake Superior from the outer islands or to the international boundary. No pets allowed.

Aquatic Invasives, Camping and Docks, Customs, Dock Closures, Electronics and Generators, Fees, Firewood, Fishing, Fuel and Pump-Outs, Pets, Quiet/No-Wake Zones, Restricted Activities


All boaters staying overnight at anchor, at docks, or in campgrounds must first obtain a camping permit in-person at Houghton, Rock Harbor, or Windigo. Boaters may also obtain their permit in advance. Permits should be displayed on the boat when at anchor, at dock, or in the campground on a shelter or tent.


Park Fees

Visitors to Isle Royale, including those fishing in park waters, are required to pay a $7 per person daily entrance fee. This fee is charged to enter or remain within the park per calendar day. Children 15 and under are exempt.

The Isle Royale Season Pass ($60) includes up to 3 adults traveling with the pass holder. All Federal Recreation Passes will be honored for the pass holder and up to 3 accompanying adults. You must present your pass upon arrival in the park.

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A photo taken from a large dock at sunset
Sunset at the Windigo Dock.

Kaitlyn Knick

Camping and Docks:

All dock space and small-party campsites (including shelters) are available first-come, first-served. They may not be reserved or held for others. From late-July to the end of August, expect crowded conditions at docks and campgrounds. Observe stay limits for campgrounds, in effect June 1 through early September.

Boaters already set up at a tent site or shelter, and who have a valid camping permit, must be given priority access to dock space. When not in camp, many boaters leave fenders attached to the dock to indicate occupancy of a campsite.

You may only use one shelter and shelters may not be used solely for cooking or storage. Do not use staples or nails on shelters. A tent may be erected inside, but not outside a shelter. Hammocks may not be erected at shelter sites or inside shelters. Do not alter the landscape by digging, trenching, etc.

Generally, only docks that adjoin campgrounds are open for overnight use. The Rock Harbor Marina provides nightly slip rentals with utility service hook-ups.

The following docks are open for day use only, from 6 am until 10 pm eastern time:

  • Any NPS or concession fuel dispensing dock
  • Shipwreck Mooring buoys (for active diving only)
  • Amygdaloid Island Dock
  • Crystal Cove Dock
  • Edisen Fishery Dock
  • Hidden Lake Dock
  • Mott Island Docks
  • Passage Island Dock
  • Raspberry Island Dock
  • Wright Island Dock
  • Any other dock posted or signed as closed to overnight use

The following docks are closed to public use:

  • America Dock
  • Malone Bay Dock, North Side
  • Ranger III Dock at Rock Harbor
  • Ranger III Dock at Mott Island
  • Any other dock posted or signed as closed to public entry

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Regular Dock Closures

Dock closures to accommodate passenger ferry and tour boat operations. Closures in eastern time.

Daisy Farm


9:00 am to 10:00 am

Chippewa Harbor


9:30 pm to 11:00 am

Malone Bay


10:30 am to noon

McCargoe Cove


2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Belle Isle


2:30 pm to 3:30 pm


Thurs/Sun (7/14 – 8/15)

Noon to 2:30 pm



10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Dock closures to accomodate The Sandy tour boat. Closures in eastern time.
(The Sandy will not operate in 2021.)

Edisen Fishery

Tues and Thurs

2:30 pm to 5:30 pm


9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Hidden Lake

Tues and Thurs

9:30 am to 11:30 am

Passage Island

Mon and Fri

2:30 pm to 5:30 pm


10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Raspberry Island

Tues and Fri

8:00 pm to 9:00 pm


3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

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Restricted Activities

Water skiing and personal watercraft (e.g. Jet skis and Waverunners) are prohibited.

Vessels with motors (even if not in use) are prohibited on inland lakes and streams.

No drones are allowed within park boundaries.



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. Special conditions apply to guide dogs.


On-board Electronics

Operation of electronic and motorized devices such as stereos, televisions, radios turned to commercial stations and portable generators are not permitted except in developed and open-water motorized zones.

Developed areas include Windigo, Rock Harbor, and the Mott Island. Open water motorized zones include Lake Superior waters outside of designated Quiet/No Wake Zones.

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On-board Generators

Allowed: The operation or use of permanently-installed (by manufacturer) on-board vessel generators is allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. eastern time in developed zones, and at the following docks: Beaver Island, Belle Isle, Caribou Island, Grace Island, Hay Bay, Malone Bay, Rock Harbor, Tobin Harbor, and Windigo.

Prohibited: The operation of such generators is prohibited at: Birch Island, Chippewa Harbor, Daisy Farm, Duncan Bay, Duncan Narrows, McCargoe Cove, Merritt Lane, Moskey Basin, Siskiwit Bay, Three Mile, Todd Harbor, and Tookers Island.

At Anchor: The operation of such generators is permitted between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm eastern time while at anchor within Hay Bay and at anchor within other Quiet/No Wake Zones except when anchored within 1/4 mile of designated park campground (listed above) where on-board generator use is prohibited.


Quiet/No Wake Zones

These zones protect the natural quiet and wilderness values sought by most Isle Royale visitors and reduce wake impacts. Within Quiet/No-Wake Zones, vessels must not exceed 5 mph or create a wake in excess of surrounding seas. Quiet/No-Wake Zones are not marked by buoys. Boaters are responsible for knowing the locations of Quiet/No Wake Zones.

Spiny Water Flea
Spiny water fleas are found in Lake Superior. Please help prevent further spread of this invasive species, especially into non-infested waters like Isle Royale's inland lakes.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Zebra mussels and other Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) pose a serious threat. All vessels (including non-motorized craft) visiting or transiting park waters, along with associated equipment must be decontaminated by an approved method prior to entering park waters.

See the park newspaper, The Greenstone for details on decontamination methods. For large non-trailered vessels, owner must inspect vessel hull, outdrives, trim tabs, and motors for AIS.

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A grassy campsite with a picnic table and fire ring
Isle Royale campsite with metal ring.


Fires are allowed only in provided metal rings and grates. Very few campgrounds allow fires. Only dead wood on the ground may be collected for use as fuel for campfires.

Do not bring wood from mainland as it may harbor disease or insect pests.

Take your trash with you; do not burn it.

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Last updated: April 19, 2021

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931


(906) 482-0984

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