Michigan’s Isle Royale National Park: A True Wilderness Area

One of the most stark and dramatic national parks in North America is Isle Royale, which lies in the northern state of Michigan. This diverse parcel of land is just over 570,000 acres in size and was established back in April of 1940.

The island park rises out Lake Superior and is a favorite destination for the region’s moose and wolves. It’s definitely located in an isolated area and that’s one of the reasons most visitors prefer to spend about three or four days here while they explore it in all its splendor. The island itself is about 45 miles in length and most travelers get to it via a park boat or by commercial vessel.

Isle Royale National Park(photo by wlscience)

However, once you reach this vast wilderness area you’re basically on your own with your immediate traveling party, other visitors, and the wonderful wildlife.

Because of this, make sure you haven’t left any supplies at home and you have everything you need with you. You’ll also have to take your refuse with you when leaving the park. Isle Royale offers fantastic untamed and rough countryside. The trails might be muddy and the waterways could be foggy so be prepared.

Make sure you have something to fight off the insects too since mosquitoes and black flies aren’t shy about dining out on hikers and campers. You won’t be able to reserve campsites on the island and that’s just as well since you’re never certain where you may end up at the end of the adventurous day.

Before camping out you’ll have heard all of the rules and regulations when reaching the island. Park rangers will inform you all you need to know regarding low-impact camping and hiking before you head out on your own. For instance, you need to boil all water for two minutes and make sure you filter it to get rid of any possible tapeworm cysts.

When hiking through the wilderness and woods you may run into a wolf or moose. It’s believed that moose swam to the island early in the 20th century and have remained and bred there ever since. As for the wolves, experts feel they simply walked to the island across the huge frozen lake around 1945 to 1950. Scientists have been studying them there since 1958.

If you stick to the hiking trails, you’ll likely just see the animal tracks, but the moose may sometimes surprise you as they graze quietly nearby, especially in the thick-forested areas and the swamps. You may also spot a few busy beavers as they go about building their dams and you could spot a fox or two close to the campsites as they look for a bite to eat.

However, even though you may feel sorry for them, it’s illegal to feed the animals since it’s unhealthy for them and they may start scavenging your campsite for more food.

The best way to visit Isle Royale National Park is to reserve a boat trip from Copper Harbor, or Houghton Michigan, or from Grand Portage, Minnesota. The park is about 56 miles from the mainland of Michigan and just 22 miles away from Grand Portage.

The park is closed between November and mid-April. The bugs are usually the worst in June and July, but the nights sometimes prove to be to cool for them as the temperatures on the island can drop to 40 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

To appreciate the true beauty and wildness of Isle Royale you really need to spend a couple of days there. Day trips are certainly possible, but you have to travel there and back by boat and it doesn’t leave much time for exploring. There are close to 165 miles of hiking trails and the best way to see the park is to camp out and walk the paths.

If you’re not a camping enthusiast, you will be able to find accommodations at most of the boat-launching communities.