Isle Royale National Park sits far off in the blue waters of Lake Superior and seldom can be see from the mainland. But on those crystal clear days when all atmospheric conditions are perfect, the Isle can be seen from many different places on the northern hills of Keweenaw, Houghton, and Ontonagon Counties. The long stretch of land that sits 50 or more miles out from the shoreline lies as a hidden jewel. On these crystal clear days you can see the Greenstone Ridge which forms the backbone of Isle Royale. Generally, the Isle lies hidden as a Shangri-La, always mysterious, yet always beckoning to the observer to be visited.
But the real magic of the Isle comes when the observer actually visits. The real magic works in every visitor. Something happens within that cannot be shaken. The truth is indelibly marked within the senses of the memory. The smell of absolute freshness. The silent or, at times, roaring power of Lake Superior on all sides awes the imagination. The call of the loon lingers long after in the quietness of night. The gentleness of orchids in their fragile existence on the brink of cold and mists and destruction reminds a soul of what can be accomplished within one's own spirit in the world in which we live. The sweet taste of unending fields of thimbleberries make each step of the long hike a pleasure. The islets, the inner lakes, the trails, the quietness at night in lonely campgrounds far from civilization - as if time has stopped transports the visitor back into another time. Challenges abound with every mile traveled. Deep appreciation forms for the rigors of our early forefathers who braved themselves into such a wild land.
These pages on Isle Royale are designed to spark your interests in the jewel of the Copper Country, to help you learn about the history and geology of the past caught in time, to help you prepare for your visit, and to allow you to gain a deeper appreciation for this remarkable National Park.
An initial gallery of pictures have been posted, along with a short description to help give you a feel for the park. We invite anyone to submit their picture to join those on this site. Please let us know what particular location we are seeing, a short story you may wish to pass along with it and we will assign your name to the picture as the owner. You may submit your pictures to
We are also interested in helping put together various links that you will find very helpful from other people who have visited the Isle, particularly information on each of the campgrounds and the many trails that are on the Isle. It is impossible for anyone on a visit of one to two weeks to visit all the remarkable places on this Isle.
This Isle is perfect for boaters of all types. Kayaks and canoes are perfect to explore the protected waters of the northeast section of the Isle. Trips onto Lake Superior need to be carefully planned as the waters are very unpredictable and can be very dangerous. Only the most experienced canoers and kayakers ought to consider such trips. Rock Harbor itself stretches miles and miles along the southern portion of the Isle and provides great protection from the waters of Lake Superior. The portages between lakes are possible but ought to be attempted only by those in very good condition as the trails are often slippery and steep. For a better look at the northern part of Isle Royale click on the thumbnail picture below or click on middle or west for other thumbnail maps.
While the inland lakes may provide good fishing, the truth is that you will need a boat to access the fishing spots as the growth along the lakes is very thick and limits access. While the fishing along Lake Superior has better access, there are only several places where the deep waters can be accessed. Again boats are needed. If you can portage a boat into the inland lakes, you will most likely think you are in fishing paradise.
Please check out the camping site before you make your plans to double check what type of gear you ought to bring. Planning your trip well will make your trip a success. Isle Royale has access either by boat or seaplane. You will need to either leave from either Houghton or Copper Harbor, Michigan, or from Grand Portage, Minnesota. A seaplane leaves from Houghton but check with the National Park Office in Houghton for its schedule.
There are 21 different campgrounds for hikers scattered throughout the Isle and 15 different canoe campgrounds with 9 of them having shelters. Both long and short trails of various degrees of difficult are interlinked throughout the Isle. Camping is very difficult outside of the designated campgrounds as the undergrowth is intense and the park officials require that any camping outside of the campgrounds be done at least a quarter mile off of any trail. No campfires are allowed outside of designated campgrounds which have fire pits. Foliage can become very dry, especially in the interior, and a forest fire could quickly be tragic for many other hikers.
Key to a great trip to Isle Royale is planning, preparation, and an understanding of personal limitations. Isle Royale also has a motel at Rock Harbor for those wishing a wonderful get-a-way with minimal inconveniences. However, you may wish to visit Isle Royale, may your trip bring you lasting and wonderful memories!