Backpacking & Camping

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Moskey Basin shelter
Moskey Basin shelter


Camping Overview

Isle Royale has 36 campgrounds located across the island. Campsites are accessible only by foot or watercraft. All campgrounds offer tent sites, a water source, and outhouses. Some campgrounds on Lake Superior offer shelters and picnic tables. For boaters and parties of six or fewer, overnight permits are free.

  • Backpackers hike from one campground to another, usually traveling six to eight miles per day.
  • Several campgrounds on the Lake Superior shoreline have docks for power boaters and sail boaters.
  • Canoes and kayak campgrounds, located inland, are only accessible by non-motorized boats.
  • For those looking for a more rugged and adventurous experience, cross-country camping is allowed with an additional permit addendum.
  • Consecutive night stay limits are in effect from June 1 through Labor Day. Rock Harbor, Three Mile, Lane Cove, and Washington Creek extend through September 17. See specific stay limits for each campground in the current park newspaper.

Camping Permits

Permits are required, regardless of group size or method of travel, for all overnight stays at campgrounds, cross country sites, docks, or at anchor. Permits are free for parties of six or fewer or boaters.

  • For a party of six or fewer (small-party), permits are obtained when you arrive in Rock Harbor, Windigo, or aboard Ranger III. When you arrive at a campground for the evening, campsites are selected on a first come, first served basis.
    • Parties with separate overnight permits, but sharing the same affiliation (camp, school, church, scout group, organization, family, friends, etc. or any combination thereof) may not travel or camp within one half (0.5) mile of each other.
  • For a party of seven or more (group camping), groups must have advance reservations. There is a $25 per permit fee.
  • Boaters staying overnight in the park also need free permits.

Permits should be displayed on a backpack when hiking and on a tent or shelter when at camp. Please follow camping regulations during your visit.


Camping Fees?

For boaters or parties of six or fewer, there is no additional fee to camp overnight in the park. You do need the overnight camping permit discussed above. You are still required to pay park entrance fees, which are seperate from camping.

For parties of seven or more (group camping), there is a $25 per permit fee. Advanced reservations are required.


Campgrounds with Group Sites

Campgrounds: Trail Accessible

Campgrounds: Lake Superior Accessible

Campgrounds: Inland Lake Paddling


Trip Planning Resources

  • A person sits on a wooden plank bridge surrounded by trees on Isle Royale.

    Camping FAQs

    Find out all the need-to-know information that others have asked before.

  • Three people with backpacks hike along a trail in a forest.

    Backpacking Trips

    Discover backpacking routes at Isle Royale.

  • A person hikes in tall grass with a backpack on Isle Royale.

    Packing Guide

    Plan ahead for your backpacking trip by reviewing suggested gear and how to pack it.

  • An adult sits on a dock with a child wearing a bug net.

    Biting Insects

    Learn about what bothersome bugs you may encounter during your trip.

  • Human pours hot water from a Jet Boil stove into a Ramen Noodles container.

    Fuels & Stoves

    Isle Royale requires certain fuels for boating and cooking in the wilderness.

  • Person sits on lakeshore filtering water.

    Drinking Water

    Thirsty in the backcountry? Know your drinking water options before island arrival.

  • A backpack sits on a picnic tables in front of a shelter at Isle Royale.

    Camping Regulations

    Know the camping rules and regulations before your trip.

  • A person with a backpack hikes up a steep trail on Isle Royale.

    Leave No Trace Principles

    Respect the island and the wilderness experience of others by following Leave No Trace principles at Isle Royale.

  • A group of campers backpacks along Rock Harbor Channel.

    Group Camping

    Groups of 7 or more people need advance reservations to camp at Isle Royale National Park.

Last updated: May 4, 2022

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800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton , MI 49931


906 482-0984

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