10 Amazing Reasons to Visit the Isle Royale National Park in Michigan

Reasons to Visit the Isle Royale National Park in Michigan

If you’re a nature and wildlife enthusiast and want to be close to some of the most beautiful trees and wildlife, the Isle Royale is a great place to visit. Not only will you get to see white-tailed deer, moose, wolves, and bear but you’ll also experience the rocky shores of Lake Superior.

The Isle Royale National Park is the best place to view Lake Superior and its waves crashing overhead, trees of all different kinds, and a wealth of other sites that can only be seen on this island. With all these things, it makes sense that it’s a popular place for tourists to visit. Here’s why you might want to visit.

Camp in the Wild

Camp in the wild with fellow adventurers and nature lovers at one of our 36 first come, first serve campgrounds from which to choose. From the Lake Superior shoreline to backcountry islands, Isle Royale National Park offers many different camping experiences.

Isle Royale National Park camping

The Isle Royale National Park is one of the most scenic and remote national parks in the United States. Located in Lake Superior, it’s accessible only by boat or plane.

Camping is allowed on any of the islands, but you must obtain a permit and register before your trip. The park has three campgrounds: Rock Harbor, Windigo and Siskiwit Bay. There are also primitive campsites for backpackers who don’t have a permit to stay at one of the other campgrounds.

The island is home to a variety of wildlife, including wolves and moose, which can be seen from your campsite or boat tour. You’ll also find plenty of birds around the island, including bald eagles, loons, blue jays and herring gulls.

Enjoy a Ferry Ride

There are many things to do when visiting this national park. One of the best ways to explore this area is by taking a ferry ride across Lake Superior. This will allow you to see some amazing scenery on your way over to the island.

Isle Royale National Park ferry

If you are looking for something fun and adventurous when visiting Isle Royale National Park then taking a ferry ride across Lake Superior is sure to be an experience you will never forget.

Isle Royale National Park is an island in Lake Superior off the coast of Michigan, with no roads or cars. It’s a wilderness preserve, and the only way to get there is by boat.

The park has two ferries that carry passengers and vehicles between Rock Harbor on Isle Royale and Windigo on Houghton County’s mainland. The ferries run from June through late October; a third ferry runs from mid-May through mid-June. When leaving from Isle Royale, you can take a vehicle on board for an additional fee.

The ferry ride takes about 15 minutes each way, but it’s not just a quick trip across the water—it’s also an opportunity to learn more about Isle Royale’s history, environment and wildlife.

SCUBA diving

The Isle Royale National Park is located in northern Michigan and is part of the Great Lakes. It’s the largest island on the Great Lakes and has been declared a Wilderness Area – meaning that there are no roads or buildings on the island. The only way to get there is by boat or plane (or kayak).

Isle Royale National Park scuba

There are two places where you can dive: 1) near Rock Harbor Lodge on Caribou Island (which is located off of Isle Royale) and 2) near Windigo Ranger Station near Windigo Harbor (on Isle Royale itself).

Nine shipwrecks await experienced divers.

Hike the Greenstone Ridge Trail

The Greenstone Ridge Trail is a 16-mile hike that starts at Windigo and ends at Mizpah Spring on Isle Royale. The trail is part of the island’s road system, so you’ll be walking on pavement much of the way.

Greenstone Ridge Trail

The hike is long and difficult, but it offers views of Lake Superior and plenty of wildlife. The trail is also open to mountain bikers in the summer (bikes are not allowed on snowshoes).

The trail begins at Windigo Visitor Center, which is open year-round. From here, hikers will walk along the Greenstone Ridge Road, which goes southward past campsites and ranger cabins before turning into a dirt road. There are four bridges along this section of trail that cross streams and rivers, so if you’re crossing in early spring or late fall when there’s still snow on the ground, be prepared for some wet feet!

The second half of the hike takes hikers through more forested areas before reaching another set of bridges that cross over Lake Superior at Indian Portage Point. From here it’s less than a mile to Mizpah Spring where hikers can stop for water before heading back to Windigo Visitor Center.

Isle Royale is home to 3 lighthouses

Isle Royale National Park is a remote island park in Lake Superior. There are no roads on the island, but there are three lighthouses — two of which are open to visitors during the summer season. Isle Royale is a rugged wilderness with over 200 miles (322 kilometers) of hiking trails and scenic views of Lake Superior.

Rock Harbor Lighthouse

Rock Harbor Lighthouse

It was built by the U.S. Coast Guard in 1939 as part of a series of lights marking the channel into Rock Harbor. The lighthouse is located on the northeast side of Isle Royale just south of the entrance to Rock Harbor, which is itself on the southeast side of Isle Royale.

Menagerie Island Lighthouse

Menagerie Island Lighthouse is a lighthouse on Lake Superior, in Isle Royale National Park, Keweenaw County, Michigan. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and designated a Michigan State Historic Site in 1958.

Menagerie Island Lighthouse

The Menagerie Island Lighthouse was constructed by the United States Army Corps of Engineers in 1883 to replace the original light, which was destroyed by fire three years earlier. The lighthouse was built as part of a series of lighthouses that were built along Lake Superior during this period.

The tower is made of local stone and stands about 18 feet (5.5 m) high. The original lens used to burn kerosene oil, but it has since been replaced with an electric lamp powered by an underwater cable from a building on shore.

Passage Island Lighthouse

Passage Island Light is a lighthouse on Passage Island in Isle Royale National Park. It is also known as Passage Island Light Station, or simply Passage Island Lighthouse.

Passage Island Lighthouse

The current light was built in 1921 to replace the original structure, which was built in 1882 and burned down on October 13, 1919. The new light was built with concrete walls and a steel skeleton, topped with a white metal dome.

It has an array of red vertical stripes to help mariners differentiate its appearance from the other lights on the island. The station had electricity since 1935 (replacing its kerosene lamps), but lacked running water until 1960. It was automated in 1985, and deactivated in 1991 due to budget cuts.

The island itself is named for its location at the northern end of Lake Superior’s Michipicoten Strait; it lies between Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula and Ontario’s Manitoulin Island. Passage Island is one of three islands that make up Passage Islands State Recreation Area; it is connected to North Fox Island by a causeway called Swallow Tail Bridge, which carries foot traffic only.

Canoeing on Isle Royale

Isle Royale is one of the best canoeing destinations in the Midwest. There are many great places to drop a canoe in this wilderness park. You can take your first steps in paddling on Lake Superior or one of the many rivers flowing into it. Or you can go for a longer trip down the length of the island or across its width.

Isle Royale National Park canoeing 1

The most popular place to start is at Windigo, where you’ll find a campground, boat launch and canoe rental shop. From there you can paddle along the shoreline and explore beaches and rock formations. If you’re lucky, you might even see some moose or wolves along the way.

If you want more of an adventure, pack some extra food and water and set out for Isle Royale’s interior lakes, ponds and streams. These are much more remote than those along the shoreline and will take longer to paddle through because they have fewer portages around rapids.

The Majestic Moose

The majestic moose can be found all over Isle Royale National Park. In fact, they are one of the main attractions at this park. The moose can be seen in many different places, but there are some prime locations that you should check out.

Isle Royale National Park Moose

The best place to see them is on the lakeshore or near one of the waterfalls. They love hanging out in these areas because they provide them with plenty of food and water sources at all times.

You can also spot them while hiking through the woods or near their favorite spots along the shoreline. It’s best to hike in groups when trying to spot them, so you can better protect yourself from predators if you see any nearby.

Wolves have also called Isle Royale home since 1948

Isle Royale National Park Wolves

The wolves are the largest carnivore on the island and play an important role in regulating the island’s population of moose.

Rock Harbor Lodge

The Rock Harbor Lodge is a must-stop on Isle Royale, where you can get a good night’s sleep and relax before the next leg of your journey.

Isle Royale National Park Rock Harbor Lodge

The lodge is located in Rock Harbor, the only harbor on Isle Royale. It’s about halfway between Windigo and Washington Island and offers a variety of services for visitors.

The lodge has been operating since 1938, when it was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps. It was rebuilt in 1997 after a fire destroyed most of the facilities.

Rock Harbor Lodge provides lodging, food service and other amenities to visitors who come from all over the world. The facility has 23 rooms with private baths and two suites (both with shared bath). All rooms have telephones, cable television and Wi-Fi access.

In addition to lodging, Rock Harbor Lodge also provides food service at three restaurants on site: The Fish House Restaurant (open seasonally), North Shore Grill (open year-round) and Lake Side Snack Bar (open year-round).

Ruins of the Wendigo Mining Company

Isle Royale National Park Rock Wendigo Mining Company

The Wendigo Mining Company was a mining operation on Isle Royale from 1883 to 1894. The company was named for the legendary creature of Native American folklore, the wendigo. The mine is located in Copper Harbor and is now part of the National Park Service’s Isle Royale National Park.


If you want to explore a remote, natural wilderness area and learn more about the history of North America’s Great Lakes , Isle Royale is the place to go. The island itself is a National Park, with plenty to do and see.

And thanks to its location in Lake Superior, the scenery is awe-inspiring third in the country. Check out our full list of 10 reasons (in no particular order) to visit Isle Royale below. We hope you enjoy your visit!

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