COVID-19 Boating FAQ

Isle Royale Boating During COVID-19

Following guidance from the White House, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the State of Michigan, Isle Royale National Park is delaying its seasonal opening until further notice. As the NPS develops its phased opening approach, we will evaluate providing access to the park in late June/early July.

  • All islands and the main island of Isle Royale (i.e. all lands), and all facilities (docks, trails, visitor centers, campgrounds, shelters, outhouses, etc.) are closed.
  • Fuel is not available on the island, even in an emergency situation.
  • Fishing is allowed in Lake Superior waters during the day.
  • All overnight use is prohibited.
  • Boating within park waters is at your own risk.
  • Any boaters fishing in park waters need to be self-sufficient.
  • If you have an emergency, contact the US Coast Guard on marine radio channel 16.
  • The park is working with agency partners to monitor compliance with fishing regulations and the park closure.

Those travelling and fishing in the same watercraft must be from the same household under social distancing requirements in Michigan Executive Order 2020-59. Traveling a long distance to get to Isle Royale waters or traveling from out of state is not recommended by Michigan DNR guidance

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


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General Motorboat Operations Questions

Can I drive my motorboat in park waters during the day?

Yes, for day use only. You cannot overnight.

Why are docks closed to boaters?

All facilities (including docks, visitor centers, outhouses, and shelters), are closed when the park is closed. Docks are facilities. The State of Michigan and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines require people to practice social distancing, i.e. keeping 6 feet of distance between yourself and other people. Docks are points of contact for visitors and are places of elevated COVID-19 transmission risk. To ensure social distancing, facilities and points of contact where people gather are closed. Read the Superintendent's COVID-19 Closure Order

Can I anchor my boat in the park waters overnight?

No. Read the Superintendent's COVID-19 Closure Order

Can I anchor during daylight hours?

Yes, for day use only.


Boating Emergencies

What if I have an emergency? Who should I contact?

Boaters within park waters do so at their own risk. If you have an emergency, contact the US Coast Guard on marine radio channel 16.

What if there is bad weather? Can I take refuge with my boat in a safe harbor or at a dock overnight?

Boaters do so at their own risk. In an emergency situation, a boat can take refuge in park waters and contact the US Coast Guard on marine radio channel 16.


Boating Related Recreational Activities

Can I go fishing in park waters for the day? What license do I need?

Yes, following all State of Michigan fishing regulations.

Will SCUBA diving be allowed?

No, SCUBA Diving is prohibited. Under 36 CFR 1.5, the Superintendent has the authority to restrict activities within the park. Read the Superintendent's COVID-19 Closure Order


Permits, Fees, & Services

Will I need to get a day use boat permit if I am fishing or boating inside the Park boundary?

No, the park is closed, so permits will not be issued.

Do I need to pay entrance fees to boat in the park during the day?

No, the park is closed, so there are no entrance fees.

Will there be any services (gas, etc.) available to boaters?

No, during the closure, there will be no services available.


Miscellaneous COVID-19 Boating Questions

Why is Isle Royale National Park following State of Michigan guidance?

Isle Royale National Park regularly works with local, regional, and state jurisdictions and governments. Where appropriate, the Park follows local, regional, and state regulations (for example, fishing regulations for Lake Superior waters). During this COVID-19 pandemic, Isle Royale National Park supports all local, regional, and state prevention methods in order to combat and slow the spread of COVID-19.

Will there be any National Park Service staff present on Isle Royale during the closure?

Only a minimum number of park personnel will be on Isle Royale during the closure. No services will be available, such as fuel sales, marina services, food or supply sales, or mechanical support. The visitor centers will be closed. The park will be monitored for visitor compliance with the closure.

If the park closes completely for the 2020, would management consider a scenario where private boaters are allowed to use docks, campgrounds, and anchor out overnight?

The park is tracking the nationwide COVID-19 situation and considering several options for operating this summer. Submit your concerns and comments to e-mail us

Last updated: May 20, 2020

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800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931


(906) 482-0984

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