Ranger III Information

Ranger III docked at Mott Island.
RANGER III docked at Mott Island


Reservations Open January 3, 2023

The Ranger III is a 165 foot long, 34 feet wide, 648 ton passenger vessel. An experienced nine-member crew takes great pride in maintaining the vessel and serving its passengers. All service departs from Houghton, on the mainland of Michigan, and travels to either Rock Harbor or Windigo on Isle Royale.

All transporation to and from Isle Royale is passengers only. All vehicles remain on the mainland in parking areas.

Ranger III Frequently Asked Questions


Schedule 2023

Passenger service is offered from May 30 through September 13. The Ranger III takes approximately 6 hours to cross Lake Superior each way. You do not have to schedule a round-trip; one-way trips may be scheduled. There are no one-day, round-trip voyages.

Outbound Island Trips

Houghton, MI to Rock Harbor, MI; 9:00 am eastern time.

  • 5/30 - 9/12 Tuesdays and Friday
    • Except Windigo Trip Days

Houghton, MI to Windigo, MI; 9:00 am eastern time

  • 6/13, 7/11, 8/8 Tuesdays

Inbound Island Trips

Rock Harbor, MI to Houghton, MI; 9:00 am eastern time

  • 6/1 (only) Thursday

  • 6/3 - 9/13 Wednesdays and Saturday
    • Except Windigo Trip Days

Windigo, MI to Houghton, MI; 9:00 am eastern time

  • 6/14, 7/12, 8/9 Wednesdays

Ranger III ferry docked with sunset
View of the RANGER III at sunset.

NPS / Michele Devlin

Reservations Open January 3, 2023

For 2023, reservations will be accepted starting January 3 through mid-September for the upcoming Ranger III summer passenger season.

Online Reservations Preferred

  • Please check the Reservation Availability page for more information.
  • If you need assistance, contact the Houghton Visitor Center: (906) 482-0984
    • Have your sailing dates, passenger names and ages, and credit card ready.

Do You Want to Transport a Boat, Canoe, or Kayak?

Find out specific information that is helpful when making a boat, canoe, or kayak transportation reservation.

Once Reservations Are Confirmed

Once your reservations are confirmed, check out our Ranger III Departure Preparations page to plan for your Ranger III voyage.

Unloading a boat at Rock Harbor
Small boats can come to the island aboard RANGER III.


Fares (One-Way) All Season

2023 Fares

  • Adults: $80.00

  • Children (1 -15 years): $40.00

  • Infants (under 1): Free

  • Boat (less then 18'01"): $125.00

  • Boat (18'01" to 20'00"): $200.00

  • Canoes/Kayaks (hand loaded): $35.00

  • Canoes/Kayaks (>18'00" / 80 lbs or greater): $70.00

  • Outboard Motor: $20.00 (when not attached to a boat)

  • 100 lbs gear per passenger: Free

  • Additional freight after 100 lbs: $12.00/100wt.

Fares compared to last fare increase.


Park Entrance Fees

A per person daily entrance fee is required to enter and remain in the park. Pay fees online prior to your trip.


NPS vessels strive to be accessible. Ranger III is more than 60 years old with nautical designs predating ADA legislation. Please inform staff when making reservations to facilitate assistance. Ranger III crew will gladly assist with loading and unloading up and down the gangplanks. On the lower deck, the Ranger III Grill and restrooms are accessible.

Ranger III's upper lounge
RANGER III Upper Passenger Lounge



  • Indoor and outdoor seating

  • Four comfortable passenger lounges

  • Interpretive and educational programs

  • Can transport private boats up to 20' in length

  • Free vehicle parking in Houghton


The Journey

Once you've made reservations, check out our Ranger III Departure Preparations page to prepare for your Ranger III voyage.

Your Isle Royale National Park journey starts at the Ranger III's home port located at 800 E. Lakeshore Dr., Houghton, Michigan. The 73 mile journey to Rock Harbor takes 6 hours.

During the first hour of the trip, the ship navigates the scenic Keweenaw Waterway, passing under the world's largest lift bridge. Once on the open water of Lake Superior, riding the Ranger III allows one to appreciate the size and breadth of the world's largest fresh water lake (measured by surface area). As Isle Royale approaches, a picturesque seascape transitions to a rugged, lichen-covered shoreline and the historic Rock Harbor Lighthouse for those traveling to Rock Harbor.


Free Ranger III Tours

Tours By Arrangement

Free tours of Ranger III can be arranged in advance by contacting the park. Rangers will present a guided tour highlighting the history and features of the National Park Service's largest motorized vessel. Groups of more than 25 may require additional tour times or staffing needs.

Tour Details

  • Park at the Houghton Visitor Center

  • Gather outside the visitor center about 10 minutes prior to the tour time

  • Tour time length: Approximately 1 hour

  • Slip resistant shoes recommended

  • Narrow stairways and corridors are encountered

  • All ages welcome

  • No strollers

  • Children 15 and younger must be accompanied by an adult

Ranger III at Isle Royale
RANGER III sailing at Isle Royale


More About Ranger III

The Ranger III is a 165 foot long, 34 feet wide, 648 ton vessel that carries 128 passengers. Go here for full Ranger III specs. An experienced nine-member crew takes great pride in maintaining the vessel and serving its passengers. The Ranger III has been in operation since 1958, and is part of a rich history of vessels that have serviced Isle Royale.

View the Ranger III Photo Gallery.

Last updated: December 16, 2022

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Contact Info

Mailing Address:

800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931


906 482-0984

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