Visiting Isle Royale in Fall

The leaves of many trees have turned orange and yellow in this fall forest scene.
Visiting Isle Royale in the fall has benefits, but can also present specific challenges.

NPS Photo

Isle Royale National Park is open every year from April 16 through October 31. Visiting the park during the fall season (September/October) requires a higher degree of planning and preparation. In the fall, visitors should expect to be completely self-sufficient, as services and emergency response are limited to non-existent. Check current conditions and The Greenstone newspaper before your trip for the most up to date information, including opening dates for services and transportation schedules.

Reduced Services

On island services in the fall are limited to non-existent. Visitors should bring everything they will need for their trip. Consider bringing extra provisions, such as warmer gear or more food for additional meals.

Waves crash on a rocky shoreline.
Fall weather can change quickly - adjust plans accordingly.

Amie Heeter


Fall weather on Isle Royale can be inclement and unpredictable. Plan for a variety of conditions, including heat, cold, rain, waves, wind, ice and snow. An average fall day on the island may consist of warm daytime temperatures, and cold nighttime temperatures. Gale force winds and large waves are common and weather events can last for multiple days. Snow, ice, and freezing spray on shorelines may occur in September and October. Pack layers and waterproof gear. Check the Isle Royale recreational forecast and the Isle Royale marine forecast before your trip.

Two people rest while wrapped in a camp blanket.
Plan ahead for safety by resting often and packing warm gear.

Margaret Barse


Your safety is your responsibility. During the fall, emergency response is limited to non-existent, requiring visitors to rely on their own skills and equipment. For this reason, it is important to keep a conservative trip plan, be first aid ready, and plan for problems. Cell phone service is unreliable, do not depend on it.


Cold and wet fall conditions can result in hypothermia. Campfires are only permitted at a handful of campgrounds - bring rain gear, extra layers, and warm liquids to mitigate cold.

A bull moose with large antlers.
In the fall, rutting moose can frequently be seen blocking trails.

Kelly Morrissey


Late September and October is moose mating season - known as the rut. Bull moose behavior during this time of year can be extremely unpredictable. Rutting bull moose can exhibit aggressive behavior towards people. Give moose extra space and protect yourself by putting a large object between you and the moose. Rutting moose may block trails, which may require hikers to wait long periods of time for moose to pass, turn back, find an alternate route, or move around the moose giving it a wide berth.

A ranger walks down a dock lined with people in wiinter coats waiting to get on a ferry. The trees in the background have turned orange.
All ferry service to and from Isle Royale concludes by End of September.

John Pepin


Fall ferry and seaplane schedules are limited, and reservations are required. Transportation delays and/or cancellations due to inclement weather are common. Passengers should bring everything they will need for their passage - services onboard ferries are limited. Traveling to Isle Royale between early October and closing (October 31) would require use of a private boat or private seaplane.

Ferry Transportation

  • Voyageur II:
    • The last Voyageur II trip with McCargoe Cove/Belle Isle is typically in mid to late September
    • Round island transport concludes end of September
    • Windigo day trips are available the last week of September, and conclude in early October
  • Isle Royale Queen IV: Concludes end of September
  • Ranger III: Concludes mid September
  • Sea Hunter III: Concludes early September

Seaplane Transportation

Last updated: October 2, 2023