COVID-19 Backpacking FAQ

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Campgrounds & Trails

Are all of the trails and campgrounds open?

Yes, except for the following (unknown at this time if closures will continue for Summer 2021):

  • Minong Trail from Hatchet Lake Junction to East Huginnin Trail Junction is closed.
  • North Desor Campground is closed.
  • Little Todd Harbor Campground is closed to Backpackers, but will be open to paddlers.

Why is the Minong Trail closed?  

Emergency response is limited this summer. The Minong trail is remote and difficult to access in an emergency situation. Minong trail rescues have gone over 16 hours in the past which means SAR (search and rescue) team members need mandatory rest and would not be available the following day.  Also, due to COVID-19 guidance, all SAR responders may need to wear respirators which creates more physical exhaustion and requires more rescuers.

It is unknown at this time if this closure will continue for Summer 2021.

Are there stay limits for any campgrounds?  

Yes, stay limits are in effect in all campgrounds through Labor Day. See The Greenstone newspaper for details on other campgrounds.   

Will the trails and campgrounds be cleared and maintained? 

Hikers will likely encounter downed trees and heavy undergrowth due to late opening. Wayfinding may be challenging and travel times increased. Backpackers need to be self-sufficient. When camping, be aware of hazard trees in the campgrounds and select sites accordingly.  Stay alert and aware of your surroundings while in the park because emergency response resources are limited.  

Will the outhouses be open? 

Yes, outhouses will be open, but will not be stocked with toilet paper.  Bring your own toilet paper. Use outhouses so human waste can be concentrated. Bring hand sanitizer and/or soap and to ensure good backcountry health. 

Is cross-country (off-trail) camping allowed this summer? 

Cross-country camping will be allowed for paddlers only along the Lake Superior shoreline in designated zones.  All cross-country camping in the interior of the island will be closed to all visitors for the season. It is unknown at this time if this closure will continue for Summer 2021.

Can I day hike off-trail?

Yes, but all cross-country camping in the interior of the island will be closed to all visitors for the season. It is unknown at this time if this closure will continue for Summer 2021.

 

Fees & Permits

Do I need a camping permit? How do I obtain one?

Yes, if you are staying overnight you need an overnight permit. If you are arriving via the seaplane, you will be issued your permit upon arrival on the island.

Do I have to pay entrance fees?

Yes, please pay your entrance fee or purchase a pass in advance of your trip at www.pay.gov, search Isle Royale.

 

Visitor Centers & Facilities

Will visitor centers be open in 2021?

Yes, it is expected that all visitors centers will be open in 2021. All visitor centers have capacity limits. Visitors are asked to wear face coverings when inside the visitor centers and outside when social distancing is not possible. Visitors should following social distancing guidlines at all times.

Will you sell maps and books at the visitor centers?

Yes, Isle Royale and Keweenaw Parks Association will have a selection of items for sale at all 3 visitor centers, including maps.

Will the restrooms be open at Windigo and Rock Harbor?

Yes, restrooms will be open at both Windigo and Rock Harbor. T

Will there be potable water at Rock Harbor and/or Windigo?

Yes, there will be potable water at both Rock Harbor and Windigo.

Will showers be open?

To be determined for 2021.

Will laundry be open?

To be determined for 2021.

Will storage be available for food and gear on the island?

To be determined for 2021.

Will trash cans or dumpsters be available on the island?

Yes, trash cans will be available at Windigo and a dumpster will be available at Rock Harbor. Please follow Leave No Trace principles and carry out your trash if possible.

 

Group Camping

Will groups be allowed?

Yes, groups of 7 or more, no more than 10 people traveling together in the same party, will be allowed per standard group camping regulations. Groups will still need to make a group camping request in advance. Contact the Houghton visitor center at 906-482-0984 or email at e-mail us to submit your request.

 

Seaplane and Stove Fuel

I am coming on the seaplane and can’t carry stove fuel. Will there be fuel available on the island? If so, what kind?

Yes, isobutane stove fuel will be available on the island at Rock Harbor and Windigo. Purchase of the fuel must be coordinated in advance with Isle Royale Seaplanes through the Rock Harbor Lodge website.

Last updated: September 28, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931

Phone:

(906) 482-0984

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