Isle Royale National Park: Michigan’s Island Wilderness
Throughout Michigan you can visit several places that are designated as national sites, but our state has only one national park, Isle Royale. This rugged archipelago wilderness (a chain of islands) in Lake Superior is one of our country’s 10 least visited national parks. That’s what makes it wildly wonderful.
Where it’s located: Away from civilization, Isle Royale is 53 miles north of Copper Harbor. Its remoteness adds to its appeal. Of its 133,782 acres, 132,018 are designated wilderness. Because of its extreme winter weather conditions, the park is open annually from April 15 to October 31. It has two headquarters. The mainland offices are open all year round in Houghton. The park’s summer headquarters, open May through September, are on Mott Island. There are visitor centers at Houghton, open year round, and at Rock Harbor on the northeast end of the park and Windigo on the southwest end with hours May-September.
What you can do: This is paradise for people who love the unparalleled solitude and adventure of the northern outdoors. You can enjoy Isle Royale’s stunning beauty many ways. Backpack 165 miles of trails along the shore or inland or day hike shorter routes near Rock Harbor and Windigo. Canoe, sea kayak and fish on Lake Superior’s open waters or inland lakes. Boat or scuba dive on Lake Superior. Take awesome photographs – this is one of the few places in Michigan where you could see moose and gray wolves. The park also offers junior, youth and adult ranger programs as well as guided tours.
How to get here: Four ferries and one seaplane provide transportation services from Houghton and Copper Harbor, MI and Grand Portage, MN. Reservations are highly recommended between late July and mid-August.
Where to stay: There are 36 campgrounds located along the Lake Superior shoreline and inland; two rustic camper cabins in Windigo; and Rock Harbor Lodge and cottages.
Fees/Permits: There is a user fee and permits are required for boats, camping and special events (such as group camping, weddings, filmmaking, etc.). For more information, click here.