Isle Royale National Park in Michigan

Isle Royale National Park is a United States national park on and around Isle Royale, located in Lake Superior. Despite its proximity to the Canadian shore, it is part of the state of Michigan in the USA.

With a length of 72 kilometers and a width of 14 kilometers, the island was founded with around 400 smaller neighboring islands on April 3, 1940 as the National Park Isle Royale. A few years later in 1976 the area was protected as a National Wilderness Area and in 1980 as an International Biosphere Reserve.

The national park has a total area of ​​2,320 km2, of which 540 km2 are not water. This makes it one of the smallest national parks in the USA.

Discover this beautiful isolated national park on Isle Royale, far from the noise of civilization. Surrounded by Lake Superior, it offers an unforgettable adventure for backpackers, hikers, sailors, canoeists and divers amidst its scenic beauty.

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Visit to Michigan National Park

The island is accessible by summer ferry from Grand Portage, Houghton and Copper Harbor. However, this is not possible in the winter months due to rough seas and drift ice.

Many visitors come to this island to hike Greenstone Ridge, one of Isle Royale’s longest hiking trails. It stretches 40 miles from one end of the island to the other. Day trips are particularly popular on the Greenstone Ridge Trail. It takes about four to five days to hike the entire Greenstone Ridge trail. Many hikers hike the trail in one direction and then take a boat shuttle back to the starting point at the end. In addition to the Greenstone Ridge Trail, approximately 165 miles (266 km) of hiking trails lead through the park.

Flora and fauna in Isle Royale Park

The area is characterized by mixed and deciduous forests with many flowers. When visiting the National Park you can spot moose and if you are very lucky you will see one of the rare wolves that live here. A total of about 1000 moose and 25 wolves live here.

Between 2009 and 2012 it was feared that the wolves in Isle Royale National Park would become extinct, but there were offspring again, so that the population grew again.

Since 2012, peregrine falcons have been observed on the island again, which have not been sighted there for a long time. In addition, in winter you can see animals that visit the island across the frozen lake from the Canadian mainland.

History of Isle Royale National Park

In older times, large amounts of copper were mined here by the indigenous peoples. In the mid-1840s, a real copper boom developed here, in which the first modern copper mines were opened. Many old mines and pits can still be found in this region today. As a reminder of this time, a Prehistoric Copper Mining opened in 1961 in the Lake Superior region.

Greenstone, the official gemstone of the US state of Michigan, was also found on the island of Isle Royale.

The site was once dominated by fishing, but the fishing industry declined significantly and the area was placed under protection, and fishing soon ceased to exist.

Activities in Isle Royale National Park

Many activities can be carried out here, we have put together the individual activities that are offered in the national park here:

Backpacking and Camping
Isle Royale has 36 campsites on the island. The campsites can only be reached on foot or by boat. Many visitors use Park Isle Royale for backpacking tours, they travel an average of six to eight miles a day and stay at one of the many campgrounds.

Canoe & Kayak
Numerous lakes, bays and islands connected by waterways offer a paradise for canoeists and kayakers. Day tours and overnight stays at one of the many campsites are popular here.

Day Hiking – Day Hiking
Hiking is an excellent way to explore Isle Royale National Park. There are a number of short and long hikes near Rock Harbor and Windigo. However, be aware that the terrain on Isle Royale is very uneven.

Scuba Diving
Isle Royale offers many exciting diving opportunities. The frigid waters of Lake Superior are home to a variety of wrecks in excellent condition. These sunken ships are protected by the National Park Service. If you want to dive, all you have to do is pre-register at Rock Harbor, Windigo, or Houghton Visitor Centers.

Ranger Programs
In the National Park there is the opportunity to participate in one of the ranger programs, where you can thoroughly explore the Isle Royale and learn a lot about its natural and cultural history.

Fishing in Isle Royale Park
Isle Royale National Park is an angler’s paradise. Whether you are fishing in Lake Superior or the inland lakes. However, you must have a fishing license.

Boat Tours
An archipelago of more than 400 islands, Isle Royale National Park is an exciting place to explore by boat. You can do this with your own boat or book a boat tour.

Visitor centers

There are a few visitor centers on Isle Royale. We have compiled the most important ones for you here:

Houghton Visitor Center: Lage: 800 E. Lakeshore Dr. Houghton, MI 49931

Rock Harbor Visitor Center: Location: Northeast End Isle Royale National Park

Windigo Visitor Center: Location: Southwest end of Isle Royale National Park

Houghton

Houghton , Michigan is the headquarters of Isle Royale National Park. It is located on the Portage Canal in Houghton: 800 E. Lakeshore Drive, Houghton, MI 49931.

There is also a visitor center that is open all season.

Rock Harbor

Rock Harbor is at the northeast end of Isle Royale National Park. It is controlled by the ships and the airplanes. Here you will find the Rock Harbor Visitor Center, campgrounds and restaurants. You can also go hiking and discover nature here.

Windigo

Windigo is on the southwest end of Isle Royale National Park. It is controlled by ships and planes. The Windigo Visitor Center, campgrounds and many hiking trails are located here.

Isle Royale National Park in Michigan