As an archipelago with over 400 islands, Isle Royale National Park is an exciting place to embark upon a boating adventure. Powerboaters and sailboaters alike have numerous docks and countless anchorages in which to find their own wilderness.
Motorboat swamped and sinking. People attempt to bail it out.

Boating Guide

Helpful boating tips to keep you safe and legal while visiting Isle Royale.

A view from a boat with fishing poles up in the air


Enjoy fishing the waters of Lake Superior and the island's numerous inland lakes and streams.

A red sailboat is tied to a dock with an island in the background and water.

Boater Permit Request

How to take care of your boater permit and fees before entering the park.



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.


Lake Superior offers challenging and often dangerous weather in the form of dense fog, high winds, waves, and thunderstorms. Combine this with rocky reefs, limited safe harbors, and Isle Royale's remoteness, and its pays for you, your crew, and your boat to be shipshape. Isle Royale's geology can make navigating its waters treacherous to the unexperienced or uninformed boater. There are numerous hidden shoals and underwater reefs that create hazards. A waterproof lake chart of the Lake Superior waters around Isle Royale National Park is recommended for all boaters. Use Marine 16 on your marine radio in the event of an emergency. Contact the U.S. Coast Guard or the Rock Harbor or Windigo Visitor Centers (when staffed).


All vessels traveling from Canada (Canadian or U.S.) must clear U.S. customs at the Windigo or Rock Harbor Visitor Centers. A valid passport, U.S. passport card, enhanced drivers license, or trusted travel program card is required. Visitors from Canada can be cleared for Isle Royale only. Additional information can be obtained from Grand Portage U.S. Customs and Border Patrol. Any questions regarding customs at Isle Royale National Park can be directed to Grand Portage U.S. Customs and Border Patrol at (218) 475-2244.


Gasoline and disesel fuel is sold in Windigo and Rock Harbor. Please contact the park prior to your trip for the most up-to-date information regarding fuel availability and prices. Early and late season fuel service may be obtained at Windigo or Mott Island if park personnel are available (credit or check only; no cash accepted).

Portable Generators, Electronic, and Motorized Devices

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 Headquarters area. Open water motorized zones include Lake Superior waters outside of designated "quiet/no wake waters."

Pollution Prevention

Head pump-out service is available at Windigo and Rock Harbor when the concession operation is open. Vessels carrying spare fuel in portable containers must use legally approved containers. Fuel may not be stored on docks.

Last updated: October 16, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931


(906) 482-0984

Contact Us