Boating Guide

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


Isle Royale Summer 2018 Boating Guide

Isle Royale National Park regulations are intended to protect park resources and appropriate 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.

Pets, Fees, Camping & Docks, Restricted Activities, Aquatic Invasives, Generators, Fishing, Firewood, Ferry Dock Closures


Permits are required for all overnight stays, whether in a campground, at dock, or anchoring. Permits may be obtained in Houghton, Rock Harbor, or Windigo or you may permit in advance.

Visibly display permit when at dock or anchorage. When staying ashore, display your permit on your tent or shelter door.



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.


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.

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 Labor Day

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. 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:

  • Amygdaloid Island Dock
  • Any NPS of concessoin fuel dispensing dock
  • Crystal Cove Dock
  • Edisen Fishery Dock
  • Hidden Lake Dock
  • Mott Island Docks
  • Passage Island Dock
  • Raspberry Island Dock
  • Shipwreck Mooring Buoys (for active diving only)
  • 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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Three Spiny Water Fleas viewed under microscope.
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.


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.

The operation of electronic and motorized devices such as stereos, televisions, radios tuned to commercial stations, and portable generators is not permitted except in developed and open water motorized zones. Developed areas include Windigo, and Mott Island. Open water motorized zones include waters outside of designated Quiet/No-Wake Zones.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) pose a serious threat. Vessel owners are legally responsible for Aquatic Invasive Species decontamination prior to entering park waters. This applies to all vessels (power and sailboats, canoes, kayaks, etc.) regardless of size or configuration.

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.

Please take the following steps to prevent the transport of zebra mussels and other aquatic invasive species to Isle Royale waters.

Inspect for zebra mussels and other aquatic invasives attached to your trim tabs, swim platform, motor mounts, hull, and equipment. Feel the hull. A coarse sandpaper texture may indicate larval mussels attached to your boat.
Remove all zebra mussels and other invasive species along with any aquatic plants from your boat, trailer, and equipment. Larval mussels are best removed with a scrub brush or similar method. Treat invasives like litter. Dispose of them in a trash can.
Drain all water from your motor, livewell, bilge, transom, etc., away from an body of water.
Wash your boat, including bilge equipment with a) hot water (greater than 104 degrees F), b) high pressure water, or c) disinfectant OR Clean and dry your boat and equipment in the sun for five days. Rainy days do not count.
Check to see if your boat is coming from a port known to have zebra mussels. Duluth, Superior, Thunder Bay, Marquette, Ontonagon, and Ashland all have documented infestations. If so, take extra measures to assure decontamination.

Read more about invasive species at Isle Royale National Park and what you can do to help stop the spread.

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On-board Generators

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. EDT 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.

The operation or use of permanently installed on-board vessel generators is prohibited at the following public docks: 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.

The operation or use of permanently installed on-board vessel generators is permitted between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm EDT by vessels at anchor within Quiet/No Wake Zones except when anchored within 1/4 mile of designated park docks (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.

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Stern of boat with fish pole trolling for fish in Lake Superior
A Michigan Fishing license is required for fishing in Lake Superior.



A Michigan Fishing license is required for fishing in Lake Superior, including narrow bays and harbors, and when transporting fish from the park to the mainland. Licenses are not required to fish inland waters. Michigan size, season, and possession limits generally apply. See the park newspaper for exceptions.

All fish in your possession count toward your limit, regardless of where and when they were caught. All fish in your possession must be measurable and identifiable by species.

Only barbless hooks and artificial lures may be used in inland lakes, streams, and creeks. The possession or use of fish or fish parts as bait for fishing in Lake Superior waters of the park is limited to fish and/or fish parts that are caught within the park. Transporting fish or fish parts for use as bait to the park is prohibited.

Disposal of Fish Remains

Lake Superior Campgrounds: In Rock Harbor and Windigo use the fish cleaning station. At campgrounds and docks, clean fish away from the dock and campsites. Do not throw pieces to gulls or into the water near shore. Scrub and rinse away all blood and slime from any onshore surfaces. Puncture swim bladder and cut fish remains into less than 4" pieces then dispose of in water deeper than 50 ft.

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  • Fires are allowed only in provided metal rings and grates. Very few campgrounds allow fires. 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.

Ferry & Tour Boat Dock Closures

Dock closures to accommodate passenger ferry operations. Closures in EDT.

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 (7/13 – 8/17)

Noon to 2:30 pm



10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Dock closures to accomodate The Sandy tour boat. Closures in EDT.

Edisen Fishery

Tues and Thurs

10:00 am to 1:00 pm


2:30 pm to 5:30 pm

Hidden Lake

Tues and Thurs

9:30 am to 11:30 am

Passage Island Wed

2:30 pm to 5:00 pm

Mon and Fri

9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Raspberry Island

Tues and Fri

8:00 pm to 9:00 pm


3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

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Last updated: December 3, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931


(906) 482-0984

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