Isle Royale National Park rests in the heart of Lake Superior and is a destination for travelers seeking a true backcountry experience. The least visited of the United States’ national parks, this remote paradise is only accessible by boat or seaplane. But those who make the journey find themselves coming back again…and again. In fact, Isle Royale visitors typically stay there 3.5 days, while the average visit to a national park is about 4 hours.
The island offers incredible hiking, fishing, camping, and paddling opportunities to its visitors. And because of its almost complete absence of light pollution, the park makes for one of the best locations to observe the majestic aurora borealis (Northern Lights) and truly dark skies.
No other national park offers such an intimate experience with the outdoors. Because of the 45-mile long island’s remoteness, visitors are more likely to run into local wildlife than other humans while trekking across the park’s extensive trail system. The park is best known for the local moose and gray wolf populations, but visitors may also stumble upon other small mammals like beavers, red foxes, snowshoe hare, minks, and river otters. The haunting call of loons, which nest along the shorelines, is one of the most memorable experiences.
Visitors can only reach the park by seaplane or ferry. Ferries depart from Houghton (~6 hours one way) and Copper Harbor (3.5 hours one way). Isle Royale Seaplanes depart from Houghton and can get travelers to the park in less than an hour. Plus, you’re rewarded with fantastic views of the island and Lake Superior.
Most visitors opt to camp at one of the park’s numerous rustic camp sites. But camping isn’t mandatory! Travelers can also choose to stay at the 60 room Rock Harbor Lodge which has an on-site restaurant or rent a cabin or cottage. Visitors who travel during “off-peak” season will get discounted rates. Be sure to make reservations well in advance since these rooms book quickly.