Isle Royale National Park

Michigan

Isle Royale National Park

is on an island in Lake Superior. It’s part of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but it’s also close to the borders of Minnesota and Canada. There are no cars on the island - all travel is done by foot or by boat. The park is home to moose, gray wolves, red fox, beavers, mink, and more. The island has several charming lighthouses, and the lack of vehicles means you’re promised solitude in the middle of scenic Lake Superior.

Definitely keep an eye on the weather when planning your trip to the park. Conditions can change quickly, and you’ll want to be prepared. If you’re planning a trip during the summer, bring layers including warm clothing and rain gear. Summer temperatures often feature highs in the 60’s and 70’s, with lows in the 40’s and 50s overnight. During the winter, you’ll want plenty of gear to keep you warm - winters can get extremely cold, with highs in the teens and 20s and lows in the single digits, often dipping below zero.

There are towns in both Michigan and Minnesota that are near the ferries and planes that transport you to the park, and Canada isn’t far either. Explore the trail carved thousands of years ago during the Ice Age, visit a wildlife refuge, or learn more about the rocks and minerals that are unique to the Lake Superior area.

If you’re looking for adventure within the park, you can find Isle Royale National Park’s scheduled events here. Most events occur between June-August, but the park is open even during the frigid winter months. You can also do many self-guided activities throughout the park, including visiting the lighthouses, taking a cruise around the island, kayaking, scuba diving, swimming, hiking, and more.

National Park Sample Image
Weather
Spring 40-50 F
Summer 60-70 F
Fall 35-50 F
Winter 20-30 F
National Park Sample Image
Nearby Cities
Thunder Bay, Ontario, CA
National Park Sample Image
Trip Planner
Use our FREE RV trip planner to begin customizing the perfect RV trip. Continue
National Park Sample Image

Where To Stay

As the island is only accessible by ferry or seaplane, if you wish to camp at the park, you need to pack everything in. There is also a lodge available on the island. Back on the mainland, there are many private campgrounds that allow tent and RV camping. If you’re traveling in an RV, make one of those your base camp, and venture to the park from there.

RV Rentals Near Isle Royale National Park

Nearby RV Rentals

National Park Sample Image

Hit the Trails

There are many trails in the Rock Harbor and Windigo areas of the park, as well as plenty more backcountry hiking trails. Explore a sea arch, look for moose and other wildlife, or tackle Mount Franklin on a longer trek.

Rock Harbor Trails

Suzy’s Cave

Distance: 3.8 miles round trip

Terrain: The trail leads to a wave-washed cliff and inland sea arch, formed by wave action 4,000 years ago when water levels were higher. From there, the trail heads to Tobin Harbor Trail, with loons, moose, and other wildlife.

Scoville Point

Distance: 4.2 miles round trip

Terrain: Walk along the forest and shoreline to spectacular Scoville Point.

Mount Franklin

Distance: 10 miles round trip

Terrain: Take the Rock Harbor or Tobin Harbor Trail to the wooden post, directing you to the Mount Franklin Trail in honor of Benjamin Franklin. From the top of Mount Franklin, see the island’s interior and north shore, along with the Canadian mainland.

Windigo Area Trails

Windigo Nature

Distance: 1.2 miles round trip

Terrain: Explore the various forest environments of Windigo on this relatively flat trail. Pass cedar lowlands, wander through forests of maple and birch, and look for forest wildlife.

Grace Creek Overlook

Distance: 3.6 miles round trip

Terrain: The scenic trail follows the Washington Harbor shoreline through boreal forest, then cuts inland. The trail climbs and forest gives way to an open ridge top. Head to the rocky outcrop for a view of the island’s interior and Lake Superior’s Grace Harbor.

Minong Ridge Overlook

Distance: 6 miles round trip

Terrain: Though the entire trail stretches 26 miles to McCargoe Cove, you can hike a portion of the trail to the ridge. Beyond the Washington Creek and Huginnin Cove, wander through marshes and pine forest, then to a beautiful view of flat topped Pie Island and the Canadian shoreline.

Huginnin Cove Loop

Distance: 9.4 miles round trip

Terrain: Follow this scenic trail over ridges, through wetlands, and along the Lake Superior shoreline. Discover the remnants of a historic mine exploration site, see wildlife near beaver ponds, and enjoy views of Canada from the cliffs and beaches.

National Park Sample Image

What to Do

There is much to explore along the shores of Lake Superior. You can explore sandstone cliffs, learn more about the indigenous people of the area, sample local seafood, and see the beautiful rocks and minerals that form around the Great Lakes.

Restaurants

My Sister’s Place Restaurant

Type: Burgers

Location: Grand Marais

Voyageur Brewing Company

Type: Brewery

Location: Grand Marais

Sydney’s Frozen Custard and Wood-Fired Pizza

Type: Pizza

Location: Grand Marais

The Crooked Spoon Cafe

Type: Cafe

Location: Grand Marais

Angry Trout Cafe

Type: Seafood

Location: Grand Marais

Shopping

Lake Superior Trading Post

This store, on the shore of Lake Superior, has women’s and men’s clothing, outdoor gear, trail maps, camping supplies...and Java Moose coffee for sipping while gazing at the lake.

Location: Grand Marais

Picnic & Pine

This family-owned gift shop stocks clothes, accessories, home decor, and kids’ toys. Browse the cheerful little store, and rest a spell on the picnic bench out back.

Location: Grand Marais

Grand Marais Rock Shop

The perfect store for the budding geologist! This rock shop specializes in all rocks and minerals that can be found in and around the Great Lakes.

Location: Grand Marais

Gunflint Mercantile and Candy Company

This store has a variety of candies - handmade fudge, jams and jellies, cookie mixes and cocoa mixes...along with t-shirts and gifts.

Location: Grand Marais

The Market

Wander through The Market and check out their collection of Mary Hadley pottery, Corinthian Bells, European soaps, and painted ponies. They also have garden items, jewelry, puzzles, toys, games, and kitchen accessories.

Location: Grand Marais

Museums

A.E. Seaman Mineral Museum

Rockhounds rejoice! This mineral museum, part of Michigan Tech, features a worldwide mineral collection with the largest public exhibit of minerals from the Great Lakes region. Tucked into the heart of Michigan’s Copper Country, you can see the largest native copper slab (it holds the Guiness World Record at 17 tons), which was recovered from the bottom of Lake Superior. Make sure to visit the gift shop for minerals fashioned into jewelry, bookends, candleholders, and other unique gifts.

Carnegie Museum of the Keweenaw

Learn more about the Michigan region’s natural and cultural history in this museum that features interactive exhibits to engage visitors of all ages. You can see how the city of Houghton and surrounding areas grew up, and see artwork and paintings of the area.

The Commercial Fishing Museum

On the grounds of the Eagle Harbor Lighthouse Complex, the fishing museum shows the importance of commercial fishing in the region, and shares the history of the many families that passed commercial fishing down through the generations. Learn about the rough, and often risky, business of commercial fishing in Lake Superior.

Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center

Location in the beautiful, stone Chik-Wauk Lodge on Saganaga Lake, the museum and nature center show the area’s cultural and natural history through interactive exhibits. Visitors can see how the Gunflint Trail began in prehistoric times, and can learn more about the people who shaped today’s community including Native Americans. Miners, loggers, and others. Also, be sure to explore the nature trails that cross the 50-acre grounds.

Cook County Museum

Visitors can learn about the Cook County area by touring the Lightkeeper’s House, the Bally Blacksmith Shop, the Chippewa City Church, the Fish House, and the Johnson Heritage Post Art Gallery which features local, regional, and national artists.  

Sightseeing

Grand Portage National Monument

Hike the trails and learn the history of the Grand Portage Ojibwe at a visit to this national monument. Learn about the partnership between the Ojibwe and the North West Company during the North American fur trade...and the later partnership between them and the National Park Service.

Ice Age National Scenic Trail

During the Ice Age, 15,000 years ago, while most of North American lay under a massive glacier, mammoths, saber tooth cats, and cave lions roamed the earth. The 1,200 mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail through Wisconsin traces the glacier’s edge.

Quetico Provincial Park

Visit this Canadian wilderness park, known for its rugged beauty, tall rock cliffs, beautiful waterfalls, virgin pine, and over 2,000 lakes. You can explore the park for two days...or two weeks...and not see everything.

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Explore miles of pristine beaches, hike the 100 miles of trails, see sandstone cliffs, and see the beauty of the northern woodlands at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan.

Seney National Wildlife Refuge

The refuge is a breeding ground for migratory birds and other wildlife including loons, cranes, and gray wolves. The area used to be heavily logged, burned, drained, and cultivated, but has been set aside and reclaimed by nature in the Upper Peninsula.

National Park Sample Image

How to Get There

There are four passenger ferries and one seaplane that offer transportation to Isle Royale National Park. The Ranger III, which is the largest piece of equipment owned and operated by the National Park Service, ferries passengers from Houghton, Michigan to Rock Harbor on the northeast end of the island and back. The Isle Royale Queen IV operates between Copper Harbor, Michigan and Rock Harbor. The Voyageur II runs between Grand Portage, Minnesota and several pick-up and drop-off points along the north and south shores of the island. The Seahunter II ferry operates between Grand Portage and Windigo on the southwest end of the park, and Isle Royale Seaplanes offers service from Houghton to Rock Harbor on the north end and Windigo on the south end of the island. All of the ferries and the seaplane offer both overnight trips or day trips to and from the island.

If you’re traveling to the park from Houghton, Michigan, the closest airports are the Houghton County Memorial Airport in town, or Sawyer International Airport in Marquette, Michigan about 100 miles away. If you’re getting to the island from Grand Portage, Minnesota, the closest airport is Thunder Bay International Airport in Canada. It’s about 40 miles from Grand Portage.

Another way to travel around the Upper Peninsula and Isle Royale National Park is by renting an RV. This allows you to travel in comfort, and at your own pace. If you don’t have an RV, RV rentals are available in many places. You can fly into one of the airports above and rent an RV in town, or rent one in your hometown to drive to Michigan.

While there are no RV campgrounds in Isle Royale National Park, there are plenty in the towns that the ferries and seaplanes serve. Consider parking your RV there and heading into the park. Be sure to check that the campground is open at the time of year you want to visit, and make reservations ahead of time.

Entering the Park

There is a per person fee to enter Isle Royale, or you can consider purchasing a season pass. America the Beautiful, Senior, and Every Kid in a Park (4th grade) passes allow you to enter the park for free.

Per Person : $7

The cost to enter the park is $7 per person per day of your visit.

Season Pass : $60

The season pass allows the holder and up to three adults 16 and up entrance to the park from April 16-Oct. 31 of the year indicated

A visit to the remote Isle Royale National Park is an experience to treasure! The solitude and scenery that has been unmarred by too many people make it the perfect place for a retreat. At RVshare, we love helping people experience the outdoors with family and friends. The memories you create will stay with you for a lifetime. RVing is a wonderful way to experience a memory-making adventure with your loved ones. Whether you visit Isle Royale in an RV rental from us or another way, we’d love to hear about it. Send us photos at [email protected] and be sure to tag us on social media to share details and tips about your visit. Your adventures could be featured on our blog or social media channels. Bon voyage!