Isle Royale National Park Guide

Secluded environment, rugged forest scenery, and diverse wildlife, Isle Royale National Park is a perfect destination for those seeking some off-grid experience.

In this article, we’ll share some best things to do in Isle Royale National Park offers, including the best time to visit, weather, where to stay, and some of the most frequently asked questions about the park. Let’s begin!



ParkIsle Royale National Park
Things to doKayaking, Canoing and ,many more
Hotels near Isle Royale National ParkEcono Lodge, East Bay suites and many more
Entry Fee$10-$20
Validity7 Days
Camping LocationsMultiple Locations

Where Is Isle Royale National Park?

Isle Royale National Park is located within Lake Superior near the Canadian border, which is 20 miles east of Grand Portage and 53 miles north of Copper Harbor, Mich.

Another thing that you should know is that there are no roads that lead you to this park, and if you want to reach Isle Royale National Park, then you will have to take a ferry, boat, seaplane, etc.

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About Isle Royale National Park

This Park is one of the most fascinating yet underrated national parks in the United States.

The Park encompasses 571 786 acres of land and includes a series of parallel ridges and valleys, narrow peninsulas, bays, and a shoreline marked by several islands.

This Park was declared a UNESCO International Biosphere Reserve in 1980 for preserving the diverse tapestry of boreal and northern-hardwood forests and diverse wildlife, including 2,000 moose, 14 wolves, and other animals.

More than 18,000 visitors come to the park to enjoy some off-the-grid backcountry experience and enjoy a variety of hiking and kayaking opportunities. 1

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History Of Isle Royale National Park

The Isle Royale archipelago has always been significant for thousands of years.

Massive quantities of copper and artifacts were found on the island dating back to 3000 B.C

In 1738, this Park was given to the United States after a treaty with Great Britain.

After the War of 1812, the island was home to Ojibwa people, who ceded the island to the U.S in 1842. 

The Park was first designated as a wilderness preserve and then converted into a national park in the 1940s to prevent logging and other damaging activities stopping the forest from regenerating.

In 1948, after its establishment presence of wolves was confirmed on the island. 2

Top 5 Things To Do In The park

This Park offers tons of recreational activities for those seeking unparalleled solitude and adventure.

Here are the best things you must do in the park: 

Kayaking And Canoeing

Kayaking and Canoeing are some of the most popular activities to explore the park and see the places other people don’t get to see.

The Park offers guided trips to isle Royale with a choice between single and tandem kayaks.

The canoe locations and portages are on the eastern half of the island. All the kayaks are equipped with safety equipment essential for your safety.

Rock harbor and Tobin Harbor are the most popular spots for paddling. 

Visit The Lighthouse

This Park has three lighthouses: Rock Harbor Light, Passage Island Light, and Menagerie Island Light.

The lighthouse on rock harbor is considered one of the most important landmarks on the island.

Made with brick and stone, this white octagonal tower features a black lantern rising above the rugged shoreline and surrounding trees and makes the island stand out on boat trips. 

Take A Hike On Greenstone Ridge Trail

The Park has 36 great hiking trails for adventurous souls. The Green Ridge Trai is a 40-mile-long path that extends from Windigo Harbor to Rock Harbor and the Rock Harbor Lodge.

The trail follows the Greenstone Ridge that surmounts the highest point and takes you through the deep woods and past pristine lakes.

It’s considered a hiker’s paradise to enjoy an authentic wilderness hiking experience. 

Explore The Wildlife

More than 2,000 moose are found all over the island and even in the campgrounds. Known as the “Hippopotamus” of the north country, these majestic creatures are one of the island’s main attractions.

Though they are difficult to spot if you’re lucky enough, you may encounter them while venturing out to their homes.

Wolves and many other creatures, including snakes, beavers, and several bird species, also call the island home.

Go Fishing

This Park is also a place to go if you like to fish. You can catch famous lake trout or snag a salmon or walleye at Lake Superior, but first, you must obtain a Michigan fishing license.

You don’t need a license for fishing inland lakes on the island, including Sisikiwit Lake, which is also home to those fat trout and other fish. 3

Best Time To Visit 

This Park is the only park that shuts down completely in winter from November 1to April 15. Summer is the most popular time to visit the park when the ferries start running again.

However, if you want to beat crowds and like cooler temperatures, the best time to visit would be Spring and Autumn


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Should I go to Isle Royale?
by u/Appropriate-Wash244 in WildernessBackpacking

Map Of Isle Royale National Park

This Park is one of the most unusual parks, mostly comprised of wilderness, so make sure to download the park’s regional map and brochure showing and maps focused on specific areas.

You can find a variety of maps online, ranging from trail maps, lodging maps, vegetation maps, and miscellaneous maps. Visit National Park maps for more information. 

Hotels Near Isle Royale National Park

There are numerous lodging options in this Park, including backpack, basecamp, and resorts. 

Rock Harbor Lodge and Windigo camper cabins  are the two most popular options to stay in the park, but if you want to stay at a hotel, here are the best options to choose from:

  • Poplar Creek Guesthouse
  • East Bay Suites 
  • Courthouse Hotel Thunder Bay
  • Delta Hotels by Marriot
  • Econo Lodge 

Camping Locations

This Park has 35 designated campgrounds located inside the park. Some of the parks are accessible by kayaks, while others are through private boat rides.

The campsites vary in capacity from individual shelters to space for up to 10 people. All amenities are equipped with basic fire rings, picnic tables, and pit toilets.

Camping sites are first-come, first-served, and permits are available on arrival. 

Where to: Stay Overnight 

Weather Of Isle Royale National Park

This Park has a continental climate prevailing. The weather conditions in the park can change quickly, thanks to Lake Superior.

In July, summer is warm with the average highest temperature of 20°F July, while January is the coldest month with the lowest temperature of -9°F. 

The best weather to visit the park is from June to September, when temperatures are most pleasant and comfortable with limited rainfall. 

Visit the NPS website to check the latest weather before visiting. 

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Entry Fee Of Isle Royale National Park charges

This Park charges $20 for a private vehicle, $15 for a motorcycle, and $10 per person on foot, valid for seven days.

People with America the Beautiful Pass, Federal Recreational Lands Pass, Senior Access, military or volunteer passes will get free access. You can purchase the passes at the park’s entrance. 

Checklist Of things To Pack

Here are the top 10 essentials you must bring with you for a safe and comfortable visit to the Park: 

  1. Daypack
  2. Swimsuit
  3. Hiking boots
  4. Water shoes
  5. Fishing rod
  6. Seasonal clothing
  7. Water bottles or hydration system
  8. Lots of snacks
  9. Sunscreen, hat
  10. Binoculars 
  11. Flashlight
  12. Insect repellent 
  13. First-aid kit 
  14. Map & Compass


How to get to Isle Royale National Park?

The only way to access the island is by ferry or seaplane. Ferries take 6 hours one way while seaplane will get you there in an hour. 

How much time do I Need in Isle Royale National Park? 

Although it’s entirely possible to explore the park in one day, we’d recommend you stay longer to experience the island truly. 

Do I need a permit for an overnight stay at Isle Royale National Park?

Yes, you do need an overnight permit to camp in the park. The permits monitor the campers, deliver emergency messages to hikers and find lost campers. 

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