What To Do At Isle Royale National Park
If a wilderness adventure is calling your name this summer, Isle Royale National Park on Lake Superior is a destination like no other. Far from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, more than 800 square miles of rugged wilderness and unspoiled natural beauty wait to be explored. Will you explore the hundreds of secluded surrounding islands by boat while diving and fishing in the lake’s crystalline waters? Or will you go by land, traversing heady balsam fir forests and craggy ridges that offer sweeping vistas of the landscape? Perhaps you’d prefer to stay closer to creature comforts offered by the island’s lodge and cabins while taking advantage of guided tours and ranger programs?
Whether you’re staying for a week or a day, by land or water, there are countless recreational activities on Isle Royale for the whole family.
If you’re not up for backcountry hiking and camping, there are many day hike options available around Windigo and Rock Harbor. If you’re staying at the Rock Harbor Lodge or at any of the campsites surrounding the visitors’ centers, just stop in for a trail map and recommendations based on your time and skill level.
Backcountry Hiking & Camping
With 165 miles of trails and 36 primitive campgrounds located throughout the island, a multi-day backpacking trip is the ideal way to see the island coast to coast. If you’re going one way from Rock Harbor to Windigo or vice versa, it’s a 40 mile trip that takes most hikers 4-6 days. If you are traveling via seaplane, you can also choose to fly into one side of the island, hike across, then fly out of the other side. Just be sure to make plans in advance and reserve your flight.
Boating & Fishing
Several docks and shoreline campsites make exploring the entire island of Isle Royale by boat possible for experienced boaters. With more than 40 documented species of fish, some found only in Lake Superior and the inland lakes and streams of Isle Royale, fishing is one of the most popular park activities. Just be sure to review and follow the park’s fishing guidelines before you go. Kayaks and canoes can also be rented at Windigo and Rock Harbor for exploring designated inland waterways, or you can bring your own as long as it is at least 15′ long.
As many as 6,000 ships have been lost to the rough and unpredictable waters of Lake Superior, and the year-round frigid water temperatures serve to preserve the wreckage. Experienced and well-equipped scuba divers can explore the ruins of 10 ships within the protected waters of Isle Royale; the oldest being a passenger steamer, the Cumberland, that sunk in 1877.
While young children might not be ready for a 4-day cross-island hike, there are plenty of activities around the main areas geared toward youngsters. Children 6-12 can participate in an educational program with a ranger and receive a Junior Ranger badge, while youths 12-17 can participate in an overnight backcountry stay to earn a Wilderness Ranger badge.
Book Your Summer Trip Now With Isle Royale Seaplanes
Start your adventure before you even arrive on the island with an exhilarating 35 minute seaplane ride from Houghton, MI on Isle Royale Seaplanes. Book your summer trip now by visiting our website or calling (906) 483-4991 to learn more.