FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How much does it cost to get there?

In 2024 the cost is $160 round trip for adults and $115 round trip for kids (ages 1-15). Visit to our Schedules & Fares page for a full list of fares.

Are reservations needed?

They are HIGHLY recommended! Days often begin to sell out in early spring. We will always take you at the last minute if we have space, but the boat does fill on most days every summer.

Do I need a round-trip reservation?

In almost all cases, yes. Make a reservation for going and returning on specific dates. If you want to leave the island earlier than your scheduled day we will take you back, with no additional charge, IF there is space available. You must talk to the captain to ask if space is available. Please do not make one-way reservations in the hope of getting a round-trip. ALL one-way cancelations are subject to the 15% cancel fee.

How soon do I need to make reservations?

We can make no promises. Some sailing dates fill up unexpectedly early in the spring, and we can’t add trips to bring more people to the island on those dates.

Do you keep a waitlist?

We do not keep a waitlist. We do however update our website as often as possible. If seats become available, we will release them online. If the date you are looking for is full keep checking the website to see if it has become available!

Do you offer any discounts?

Due to our short sailing season, we offer no senior, military, or other discounts.

Can my tickets be transferred to another person?

Yes, they can be transferred to someone else by emailing isleroyalequeen@gmail.com

What if the weather is bad and the boat can't make the trip?

The awe-inspiring crossing of Lake Superior is part of any Isle Royale adventure. We very seldom cancel trips in the summer because of storms or wind, but it does happen. Crossings are delayed until weather permits a safe crossing. This can mean a 4-6 hour delay on the scheduled day of departure, or, it could mean delaying a trip until the next morning. We are able to make two crossings in one day to catch up. Safety always comes first.

What happens if my scheduled boat is delayed?

We make every effort to alert passengers of delays. If we know ahead of time we will attempt to email or call passengers. Unfortunately, we are often not able to make the decision to cancel until right before sailing. If you have booked a trip to Isle Royale you must be prepared for delays. Delays can cause people to be stuck both in Copper Harbor or on Isle Royale until conditions become safe to sail in. The Isle Royale Line is not responsible for any additional cost (lodging/food/travel/etc) associated with delays to or from Isle Royale. Please plan your trip keeping the possibility in mind that weather may play a factor in getting to Isle Royale or back on your scheduled day.

Is the Queen IV safe?

Yes. It is a 100-foot long, 85-passenger vessel fully inspected and certified by the US Coast Guard. Our service is also regularly reviewed by the National Park Service. Our record is exemplary. We have never had a major injury on board one of our vessels in our 52 years of service on Lake Superior. We will get you to Isle Royale in ship-shape.

Is there a place to stay on Isle Royale?

Aside from camping, the Rock Harbor Lodge, right next door to the pier where the Queen IV docks. It’s a wonderful place to stay. It has motel-style rooms and large (six-person) duplex cottages, all set in spectacular locations. The lodge runs the Lighthouse Dining Room, the Greenstone Grill, and offers other activities and services. We have stayed with the great folks at the lodge many times. Their web site is www.rockharborlodge.com .

Luggage?

You may bring up to 70lbs per person in ANY form: cooler, paper bag, loose items, ANY form! We don’t even care how many bags you have! We charge $5 for each additional 10 pounds. Save weight by not carrying water in water bottles. Potable water is available in Rock Harbor. We do ask you limit the amount of carry-on luggage you bring.  There are NO storage compartments for carry-on.
 Please be sure to pack breakable items (glass bottles, GPS devices, etc.) securely in your luggage.  No breakable items should be hanging off bags or loosely packed during the crossings.

One more time for those in the back-- because people ask so often -- you CAN take a cooler of any size. :-)

Can I bring a Canoe or Kayak?

Isle Royale is a fantastic place to explore by boat! There is an extra charge to transport a canoe or kayak.  If you plan to bring a boat, reserve it at the time you reserve your round trip. For the crossings, no gear (except paddles/life preservers/spray skirts) can be stored in the boats. Please have all other gear in separate bags. The Isle Royale Line does not RENT kayaks, we only TRANSPORT them.

Can I bring an inflatable boat?

Absolutely! But, there is a charge for them ($30 round trip). They ARE NOT included in your 70lb luggage limit. If you try to sneak one in your luggage, we WILL charge you for it.

Can I bring a bike?

We can transport bikes to and from the island for a fee. This service is meant for folks making long bike treks across the country or region. People can take one boat from Michigan and one from Minnesota with their bike as part of these treks.  Please be aware that you CANNOT ride your bike on Isle Royale at any time. The park exclusively foot and boat traffic!

For more information please visit Can You Bikepack on Isle Royale? - Isle Royale National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov)

Can I bring a firearm to Isle Royale?

Legal firearms are allowed on Isle Royale, but by NPS rule, they must unloaded, in a locked case, and you must surrender a firearm to the captain during the crossing. Please see Laws & Policies - Isle Royale National Park (U.S. National Park Service) (nps.gov) for more information.

Can I take a trip just for the day?

Yes -- and many people do. You have 7.5 hours on the water and about 3 hours at Isle Royale. Adverse weather can cause longer crossings. On most days, you have 2 hours, more or less, of actual hiking time after orientation with the National Park Service. You can take a long hike of up to 4 miles or a short hike and have lunch at Rock Harbor Lodge. Or you can fish or explore or relax and enjoy the great views along Rock and Tobin Harbors. View Capt. Ben’s Guide to Day Trips (and other guides).

How long does the trip take?

It takes a little over 3.5 hours one way. We leave Copper Harbor at 8:00 a.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time), and depart Rock Harbor on Isle Royale at 2:45 p.m. We make one round trip most days in summer. We sail only to and from Rock Harbor.

Are there day-trip discounts?

Sorry, no. Because we cannot add more trips to accommodate demand, day trips are full fare. Reservations may be made online by booking the same day going and coming back.

What’s the best time of summer to go?

May is very cool, but amazingly quiet. June is cool and beautiful, the Isle Royale springtime, with millions of wildflowers. July is warm and calm and sunny, a great time for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing. August is warmer and busier, historically the peak of visitation at the island. September varies a lot, from warm to stormy to cold and rainy. Fall colors are not exceptionally beautiful on northeast Isle Royale (to where we sail), as there are lots of coniferous trees on that end of the island.

Does the island take camping reservations?

No, but you do fill out a hiking itinerary at the Rock Harbor Ranger Station when you arrive (no additional cost). The rangers can help you plan a suitable route from camp to camp. Many suggested itineraries are in Captain Ben’s Hiking Guide below.

When are the bugs the least bothersome?

Bugs are most active in July and decrease through August into September. But each summer is different. We will give you the latest update on bugs, but be prepared: Isle Royale is a northwoods wilderness, and with preparation bugs don’t have to spoil your time at the island. We advise people not to make plans based on bugs.

Cross-island hike: Can I hike to the other end of the island and take a boat back to Rock Harbor?

Yes. The Voyageur II, of Grand Portage, MN, circumnavigates the island 3 times a week in summer. The Queen’s and Voyageur’s schedules do not easily coordinate, and there is extra cost. Captain Ben Kilpela, one of the owners of the Queen IV, does not recommend a hike of this kind on a first trip to the island. He recommends that you take a loop route on the northeast end on your first visit and save the hike to Windigo on the Greenstone Ridge for your second visit. His pamphlet, “Exploring Northeast Isle Royale,” available in our office or by phone order, helps you plan hiking or boating loop routes on NE Isle Royale.

Will I see moose? How about wolves?

In 2021, moose were up again in numbers while wolves increased because the NPS transplanted a number of animals to renew the wolf population. To see moose, be up after sunset and before sunrise -- and be quiet while out and about -- to have the best chance. They are abundant in the Rock Harbor area, the port the Queen arrives at. Wolves are very seldom or heard or seen by anyone except a lucky few in the deep backcountry.

Do you serve food during the trip?

Yes. Coffee and snacks are available for purchase during the crossings (cash only). There is also a nice coffee shop with bakery next door to our dock. It’s open at 7:00am on mornings we sail. There is also a food truck one block away, Morning Sunshine, open most days at 7:00am.  

Is it cold on the Island?

It's about the same as the Upper Peninsula and Copper Harbor, but usually 5-15 degrees cooler along the Superior shoreline.

Averages:
May – night: 30s – day: 50-60
June -- night: high 40s -- day: mid-60s
July - August -- night: mid 50s -- day: mid 70s
Sept -- night: high 30s to low 50s -- day: high 40s to mid 60s

Check with a search engine for more detail. Air temperatures on Lake Superior can be quite cool even late in July; so warm clothing (at least jackets and sweatshirts) is strongly encouraged for the 55-mile crossing. Shorts and sandals are not advised for the crossing. If you have any doubt, ask the crew before departure. On the other hand, it can be surprisingly hot on the ridges in midsummer. Temps in the mid-80s are not unusual there, and often they reach the mid-90s.

Northern Lights?

People ask about them all the time. They come and go unrelated to anything on Earth except clouds. Earth’s magnetic field causes the radiation from solar flares to glow. Numerous web sites offer lights forecasts. Use a search engine to find them.

Where can I leave my car?

Parking is available across the street from our dock. There is a modest charge for cars: $10 per night to a maximum of $50 (the 6th night and thereafter are free). Trailers and RVs have higher rates (see Schedule and Fares page). You may pay by cash at the lot. No reservations for car parking for passengers are needed. We begin parking cars at 7:00AM each crossing day. An attendant will be present to show you where to park. Please do not park yourself!

Can we take our pet?

Domestic pets (dogs, cats etc.) are not allowed on Isle Royale. Service animals must have prior authorization to travel to Isle Royale. Call the NPS at 906-482-0984 if you have an ADA-approved service animal and are looking to travel to the park.

Can we take gasoline and stove fuel to the island?

No to gasoline, yes to backpack fuel. The US Coast Guard does not allow us to transport gas, but it’s available at the Rock Harbor Lodge Marina throughout the season. We do transport backpacking stove fuel in well closed, small containers, which are stowed separately. Do not stow fuel in containers with twist-on caps in backpacks.

What about seasickness?

Though lake conditions are placid most of the summer, Lake Superior, a massive inland sea, naturally, can see rough conditions. When the wind and waves are high, the Queen IV rocks and rolls, as all boats do. If you fear that you may suffer from motion discomfort, your physician can prescribe Transderm Scop. Other remedies are available over the counter. Ginger is a popular natural treatment which we carry on board. We are happy to inform you of current conditions and forecasts at any time.

Do you recommend any motel in Copper Harbor?

We recommend the excellent Minnetonka Resort, which is owned by family members. Or, visit www.copperharbor.org to see all the accommodations our town has to offer. Every motel offers a clean, comfortable, safe, and reasonably-priced place to stay.

Are there other ways to get to Copper Harbor?

Air service is to the Houghton County Airport (CMX). Below is a list of taxi companies…
Superior Transportation 906-369-3285
Copper Country Limo 906-370-4761

Need still more info?

See the NPS Greenstone newspaper. You can find the PDF of the paper at the NPS web site: nps.gov/isro