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Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park was established in 1940 to protect Isle Royale and the surrounding islands resting in the northernmost point of Michigan’s Lake Superior.
Found at the northern-most point of Michigan’s Lake Superior, Isle Royale National Park is a 500,000-acre collection of woodland islands – with the larger Isle Royal serving as the primary landmark.
Visitors can explore the island park via one of several Ranger III guided-cruises – departing from Houghton – north of Escanaba.
National Parks offer a variety of outdoor interpretive programs, like Island Connections, Rock Harbor Reflections, or the several Windigo Area Programs– each hold plenty of educational value.
With aquatic landmarks like Lake Whittlesey, Wood Lake, and Siskiwit Lake, fishing and boating are in abundance.
Isle Royale can be found roughly 50 miles from Copper Harbor off the shore of the Keweenaw Peninsula.
The park, located in the northwest corner of Lake Superior, is only accessible via ferry, seaplane, or private watercraft. The island is closed during the winter, only open from April 16th through November 1st. All three visitor centers – including Rock Harbor, Windigo, and Houghton Visitor Centers – are also closed during winter due to severe weather.
However, during the months of July and August, all visitor centers are open seven days a week, generally from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., available for reduced hours during the spring and fall months. For more information on guided tours and interpretive programs, check with any of the visitor centers.
Island transportation services can be provided by seaplane and ferry from departure points in both Houghton and Copper Harbor, Michigan. The most frequented charters are the Isle Royale Queen IV from Copper Habor and the M.V. Ranger III and the Isle Royale Seaplanesfrom Houghton.
Attractions & Activities
Chock-full of dense forests surrounded by crystal-blue waters, Isle Royale is truly a sight to see. And given the island’s remote and not-so-easy-reach nature, you’ll be offered plenty isolated peace and quiet – Isle Royale only sees about 15,000 visitor per year.
Upon arrival, you’ll want to first stop at one of the Island’s visitor center. Windigo is located on the western end near Washington Harbor, while Rock Harbor is on the eastern end. But it doesn’t matter what side of the island you arrive on – it’s what you do when you get here. Housing a collection of small lakes and bays, Isle Royale is renowned for its kayaking, canoeing, and fishing – given the proper Michigan fishing license.
Slice through the northern fog and discover Ryan Island on Siskiwit Lake or explore McCargoe Cove, feeding into the Amygdaloid Channel. The opportunities are endless. Check out park maps and canoe trails at the Rock Harbor Visitor Center to ensure you get the most of your journey.
If you’re looking to stay on dry land, you too can explore the far reaches of the island via miles and miles of hiking trails. Short, easy hikes, or more strenuous, daylong backpacking trips – you name it. Trails from Lookout Louise to the Daisy Farm to Moskey Basin offer unmatched views of Rock Harbor, Mott Island, and Scoville Point. On the opposite side of the Island, Huginnin Cove Loop, Minong Ridge Overlook, and Grace Creek Overlook explore the landscapes overlooking Washington Harbor.
As with most National Parks, guided tours and interpretive programs also come readily available. Boat tours and guided ranger programs can be scheduled at the Windigo, Daisy Farm, and Rock Harbor Areas, as well as with M.V. Sandy and Ranger III transport services. Programs like Island Connections and Windigo Whispers offer excellent insight into the culture, history, and ecology of Isle Royale.