PLANNING for ISLE ROYALE
Isle Royale is a large, rugged, spectacularly beautiful island in Lake Superior. It is a National Park of the United States of America. One of very few island national parks, it features dense wilderness, picturesque harbors, many gorgeous inland lakes, and high rocky ridges with broad vistas of Lake Superior. The second largest island in the Great Lakes, Isle Royale is about 45 miles long and 9 miles wide at the widest. There are no roads of any kind or condition. All travel is by foot or boat. The island is surrounded by hundreds of smaller islands, outcroppings, reefs, and shoals. 99% of the island is federally protected wilderness. Isle Royale is well known for its wildlife, particularly populations of moose and wolves living in natural balance.
ARRIVING in COPPER HARBOR
If you plan to stay overnight in Copper Harbor before or after your trip a list of places to stay can be found below. If you are driving directly to us, directions in Copper Harbor are as follows:
Follow US-41 to Copper Harbor. Go straight through the only traffic light and go 2 blocks to the waterfront. Turn right and go 1 block east. The entrance to the dock is on your left, parking is on your right. Online maps and GPS systems find us at 14 Waterfront Landing, or at the corner of 5th St. and Brockway Ave. in Copper Harbor, or as our former name "Isle Royale Ferry Service.".
LODGING in COPPER HARBOR
We recommend you plan to stay overnight in
Copper Harbor before or after your trip to Isle Royale. The Minnetonka
Resort (Minnetonka Resort)
is owned by a family member and allows free parking for guests taking
the Isle Royale Queen IV. For a full list of area motels, cabins, and
Places to Stay - Copper Harbor
Visit our Facebook page to find out if the ferry is departing on schedule or is delayed.
Arrive 30-45 minutes before 8:00 AM departure (EASTERN TIME). Check in at the office. Park and unload gear in parking lot or unload on the dock. Parking, directed by attendant, begins at 7:00 AM. Canoes and kayaks must be empty of gear except paddles and life-preservers and ready for loading on the ferry by 7:15 AM. Return check-in at Isle Royale is 30 minutes before 2:45 PM departure. For more information regarding parking, please visit our Schedules & Fares page.
70 pounds of gear per person are allowed. No single piece of gear may exceed 70 pounds. We lift all gear to stow in bins on the top deck, including fishing poles and walking sticks. Passengers are allowed to carry one (1) small piece of luggage per person in the cabins (cabins have no storage bins). Small means that the luggage will fit in a 1x1x1 milk crate.
We do not transport gasoline, but do transport stove fuel. Stove fuel in bottles with twist-on caps are stored separately. Sealed, plug-in fuel canisters may be stored in your gear. Also, no need to fill water bottles before crossing. Potable water is available at the Rock Harbor Visitors Center.
ROCK HARBOR LODGE on ISLE ROYALE
Besides camping at 36 wilderness campgrounds, there is only one place to stay at Isle Royale, the Rock Harbor Lodge. It offers motel-style rooms and duplex cabins. We dock right next to the Lodge. We are happy to answer any questions about staying there.
Canoes and kayaks can be rented through the Rock Harbor Lodge. Visit their website for more information.
WATER TAXI SERVICE on ISLE ROYALE
The Rock Harbor Lodge provides charter service and some regular runs in Rock Harbor. Visit their website for more information. Also, the Voyageur II from Grand Portage, MN, circumnavigates the island 3 times per week in summer making a few stops in the backcountry. See www.isleroyaleboats.com for more information. Be aware that the Voyageur II and Isle Royale Queen IV schedules do NOT easily coordinate.
THINGS TO DO on ISLE ROYALE
Isle Royale is only one of two island National Parks. It is designated a wilderness park and as such, 99% of the island is preserved as wilderness. One-percent of the park is developed. This is Rock Harbor, the main entrance, where the Isle Royale Queen IV embarks at the northeast end. This area features the charming Rock Harbor Lodge, the Lodge's popular duplex cottages, and other amenities, such as a gift shop, the Lodge Dining Room, the Greenstone Grill, the Lodge General Store, and the NPS Visitors Center. Windigo, which is at the other end of the island features a snack bar and Visitors Center. Visit Captain Ben's Visiting Isle Royale Blog,which has an introduction to Isle Royale National Park and lots of information on what to do and see on Isle Royale.
There are over 165 miles of foot trails, numerous of inland lakes with outstanding fishing, and fjord-like harbors off Lake Superior that are perfect for boating, canoeing, and kayaking. The island is also an educational experience for young and old. At some campsites, the rangers provide nightly lectures about Isle Royale and the very delicate balance of nature the island supports. One of the most famous wildlife research studies in the world takes place on Isle Royale, where Michigan Tech researches study the balance of predator and prey between the wolf and moose populations. Most backpackers will see a moose or two on the trail, and several have been spotted by day passengers while on their short walks near the Rock Harbor Lodge. A few wolves have been seen during the summer in recent years. Often, at night when the moon is bright, their haunting howling can be heard.
GUIDE to ISLE ROYALE
Captain Ben Kilpela has written an excellent pamphlet on visiting IR, "Exploring Northeast Isle Royale." It's available at www.lulu.com or from our offices by phone.
OTHER ITEMS of NOTE
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
For more information about the Isle Royale National Park and policies governing the park visit the park's official website www.nps.gov/isro/
Other interesting and useful information can be within the park's newspaper "The Greenstone".
We seldom delay or cancel trips because of weather, but it can happen. All trips are subject to safe sailing conditions.See our FAQs.
For motion discomfort, your physician can prescribe Transderm Scop. Other remedies are available without prescription. Ginger is a common natural remedy.
The Queen IV does not carry motorboats of any size. The Ranger III does carry boats 20 feet in length.
Boats and gear are transported ONLY for our passengers.
Domestic animals are not allowed on Isle Royale.