|Basic Recommendations||Food and Supplies||Program / Activities|
|Fees||Permits||Wildlife & Wildflowers|
Isle Royale is largely a wilderness area. When planning a visit, recognize the wilderness mandate of the park and that there are topographic, vegetative, and physical obstacles that might require you to have assistance. The park is perhaps ideal for the adept mobility impaired person that can experience the wilderness resource via canoe or sea kayak. For a free brochure on accessible facilities and services that the park offers, contact the park at 906-482-0984.
Basic Visit Recommendations
Any visit to Isle Royale will require substantial planning. Reservations need to be made on a passenger ferry or seaplane to reach and return from the island, or visitors will need to pilot their own boat to the island. Equipment choices will depend on whether or not the visit will include backpacking, canoeing, kayaking, power boating, using lodging facilities, and other options. Timing of the visit will correspond with more crowded (late-July through August) or less crowded (April through early July and September through October) periods.
Boaters have been coming to Isle Royale to enjoy the clean clear waters, the protected harbors and bays, the dramatic shorelines, and the excellent fishing for more than 100 years. Many Isle Royale boaters make repeat trips to the island, and some can trace their island connections back for generations. Even first-time visitors can feel keen appreciation for the resources and values of this one-of-a-kind maritime park.
For more information, please see the Boating Page.
Three types of camping are available at Isle Royale: three-sided shelters (maximum 6 people), tent sites (maximum 6 people) for one to three tents, and group sites (for parties of 7 to 10 people). Long-term campground stays are not permitted. To ease overcrowding, campgrounds have varying limits on consecutive night stays. There are no fees for the camping.
At Isle Royale National Park, emphasis is placed on low impact camping to preserve the fragile environment and not disturb the abundance of wildlife. Fires are prohibited in most areas, making self-contained stoves a requirement. Trash is carried out in all areas of the park and is not buried, burned, or put into pit toilets. Quiet hours are enforced and feeding or disturbing wildlife is prohibited. Dogs, cats, and other pets are not allowed within park boundaries; neither are firearms and fireworks. Information regarding additional rules and regulations is available by contacting park headquarters.
Please see the Camping Page for more information.
Year of inflation and budget shortfalls have resulted in the postponement of over four billion dollars worth of needed building, road, and trail maintenance and other crucial projects at national parks and monuments throughout the United States. Even though visitation to National Park Service sites has increased substantially, many visitor services have been reduced and even eliminated. Even though your favorite national park or monument looks on the surface the way it did a decade ago, there are significant problems behind the scenes. Without a National Fee Demonstration Program, problems resulting from inadequate funding will continue to get worse.
Federal funding for parks out of the general tax base has not kept pace with demand. As the nation faces the challenge of balancing the budget, funding through the traditional appropriations process is unlikely to increase. The operation and management of national parks requires a major financial investment. While most of that investment comes from the general tax base, park visitors derive a greater benefit from and place a greater burden on the areas they visit than the public at large. The new fee program redistributes that burden so that park users pay an increased share of the costs.
A user fee was initiated in 1997. This $ 4.00 per person per day fee helps support visitor facilities. Children 11 and under are free. Optional Individual Season Passes ($ 50.00) and Season Boat Rider Passes ($150.00) are available. 80% of funds collected are returned to Isle Royale National Park to tackle a huge backlog of unfunded trail maintenance and dock repair and replacement on the island. The other 20% help mediate the backlog of building, road, and trail maintenance and other crucial projects at national parks and monuments throughout the United States. There are no other park admission or use fees. To purchase annual passes for the user fee via email: "ISRO_UserFee@nps.gov."
Transportation rates to and from the island vary according to the point of departure. Campground use is free of charge and includes tent sites and three-sided shelters when available. Fishing and water charter service, scenic boat cruises, and lodging accommodations are provided by Rock Harbor Lodge, National Park Concessions, Inc. PO Box 605, Houghton, MI 49931-0605
The optional season passes can be purchased in person at the Houghton, Rock Harbor, or Windigo Visitor Centers. Passes may also be purchased by calling the park�s Houghton office at: 906-482-0984, faxing to: 906-482-8753, or by writing: Isle Royale National Park, 800 East Lakeshore Drive, Houghton, MI 49931. VISA and MasterCard are accepted. When requesting the Individual Season Pass, please include the recipient�s full name, address, and telephone number. When requesting the Season Boat Rider Pass, please include the owner�s name, address, telephone number, boat registration number, length, make, color, type of craft, and the name of the boat, if applicable.
Lake Superior Waters: The Michigan Department of Natural Resources regulates fishing within the Lake Superior waters of Isle Royale National Park. A Michigan fishing license is required and all Michigan size and catch limits apply.
Inland Lakes and Streams: No fishing license is required to fish the inland lakes and streams of the park. Only artificial bait and lures may be used. No living or dead minnows, worms, leaches, insects, fish eggs, or food may be used. Michigan open seasons, size and possession limits apply with the exception of park-specific restrictions for brook trout. Check with a ranger for additional information.
See the Fishing Guide for more details.
Food / Supplies
The marina at Rock Harbor Lodge is open from approximately mid-May through mid-September and offers diesel fuel, gasoline, and oil. Boats up to 65 feet long can be accommodated, along with 110V A.C. electrical and fresh water hook-ups and pumpouts. Motor boat and canoe rentals by the half or full day or week are available. A gift/snack shop, lodge dining room, and marina grocery store at Rock Harbor offer souvenirs and gifts, camping and fishing supplies, laundry facilities and showers.
A camp store with basic supplies, groceries, sandwiches, and fishing licenses is available at Windigo, along with showers. Canoe rentals are available at Windigo from mid-June through Labor Day. Gasoline and oil may be purchased at Windigo from mid-May through mid-October.
One hundred sixty-five miles of hiking trails accessible from numerous points around the island connect all campgrounds except those accessible only by boat. Off-trail travel is permitted, but difficult because of dense vegetation, bogs, and swamps. Numerous lakes, bays and islands provide good paddling opportunities for canoes and kayaks. Overnight docking and "anchoring out" at selected areas are available for motorized vessels (sailboats and power boats).
Please see the Hiking Page for more information.
Lodging and Camping Facilities
Rock Harbor Lodge, managed by National Park Concessions, Inc. offers lodge and housekeeping rooms with private baths. For more information please write: Rock Harbor Lodge, National Park Concessions, Inc. PO Box 605, Houghton, MI 49931-0605
Tent sites for one to three tents and three-sided shelters (maximum six people) are available on a first-come first-served basis. Group campsites, for parties of seven to ten people, require advance reservations. Email ISRO_GroupReserve@nps.gov for group camping information and reservations. Long term campground stays are not available and limits are in effect from 01 Jun through Labor Day.
Please see Lodging Page and Camping Page for more information.
Permits and Reservations
Camping reservations are not available for shelters or campsites for parties of six or fewer persons. Campsites are assigned on a first-come, first-served basis for all individual parties. Reservations are required for groups, which are parties of seven to ten persons. Email "ISRO_GroupReserve@nps.gov" for reservations. Groups must follow an established itinerary and camp only in group campsites. Individual camping parties must obtain their free camping permit upon arrival on the island or Rock Harbor and Windigo. This includes backpackers, kayakers and canoeists, boaters and fisherman.
Lodging reservations should be made a least two weeks prior to trip departure for Rock Harbor Lodge rooms or housekeeping cabins. Reservations can be made by contacting Rock Harbor Lodge. Transportation via the Ranger III, Isle Royale Seaplane, Voyageur II, or Wenonah also requires advanced reservation, especially for the months of July and August. Transportation reservations can be made by writing
A Michigan State Fishing License is required for fishing Lake Superior waters. No license is required for fishing park inland lakes.
Dogs, cats, and other pets are not allowed within the park boundaries, including pets on boats. Visitors bringing pets to Isle Royale will be required to leave immediately. Pets can disturb wildlife and be a source of disease (such as canine parvovirus), particularly for park wolves.
Programs / Activities
Interpretive programs and guided walks by Park Rangers, Park Artists-in-Residence, and other affiliates are offered from mid-June through Labor Day at Rock Harbor, Windigo, and Daisy Farm. Activities include nature and historical walks, evening slide programs and campfire talks, and scenic boat cruises to different parts of the island, including a historic lighthouse and commercial fishery. These activities focus on the flora and fauna of the island along with events of the island's colorful past.
Take a sightseeing hike to view Lake Superior panorama and abundant wildlife including moose and fox; hike scenic trails or take a sightseeing cruise to beautiful spots on the island including historic lighthouses; explore abandoned copper mines; visit a historic commercial fishery still in operation; catch a native lake trout on a fishing charter while trolling along one of Isle Royale's reefs; enjoy hospitality, food and service at the Rock Harbor Lodge Dining Room.
See the Calendar Page for more information.
Visitor centers are located at Rock Harbor and Windigo. Exhibits at visitor centers and at Rock Harbor Lighthouse explore local natural and cultural history topics. Other historic landmarks accessible by sightseeing cruises include Edisen Fishery, Passage Island Lighthouse, and the Minong Mine.
See the Calendar Page for more information.
Lake Superior weather is cool throughout the year. Dense fog in spring, sunny with temperatures rarely exceeding 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Thunderstorms and rain occur throughout the season. Weather and rough seas may delay departures to and from the island. Bring plenty of warm clothing, even in August. A jacket is a must for the ferry trip to the island or if boating around the island.
See the Weather Page for current conditions, forecasts and other weather data.
Wildlife and Wildflowers
There are wolves, moose and other wildlife in the park as well as tons of wildlife flowers.
See the Loon Information, Mammal Guide, Moose & Wolf Information, Orchid List, Tree List and the Wildflower List for more details and lists.
Activity & Calendar Page
Address, Email & Phone Guide
Brochures, Maps, Written Info
Canoe & Kayak Guide
Group Camping Guide
Jobs, SCA, Volunteer Positions
Junior Ranger Programs
Leave No Trace
Moose & Wolves
Size & Visitation Info
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