Isle Royale National Park in Michigan
Isle Royale National Park In Lake Superior, near Minnesota. Detailed guide of Isle Royale National Park In Lake Superior, near Minnesota.
Isle Royale National Park in Lake Superior, near Minnesota.
Isle Royale is actually an archipelago of more than 200 islands, all of which are clustered around one huge chunk of forested wilderness. Measuring 9 mi by 45 mi, this central island is the largest in Lake Superior, and it s home to a variety of wildlife. Moose may have found the island by swimming here in the early 1900s, while wolves probably arrived here by crossing a rare ice bridge from Canada in the late 1940s. Although sightings of these animals are special events, there are many other small mammals and birds commonly found along the park trails. Ranger stations at Amygdaloid and Malone Bay have informative staff, and the Edisen Fishery, Rock Harbor Lighthouse, and McCargoe Cove are also on site. The park was authorized in 1931 and designated a Biosphere Reserve in 1980.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Backpacking, boat cruising, canoeing (rentals in park), diving (charters available), hiking, kayaking, powerboating (rentals in park), sailing. Facilities: 3 visitor centers: Houghton (800 E. Lakeshore Dr.), Rock Harbor (northeast section of park), and Windigo (southwest section of park); outdoor interpretive exhibits, guided tours, hiking trails. Book and map sales, covered picnic tables with fire grills. Programs & Events: Evening programs at Rock Harbor and Windigo, interpretive program at Daisy Farm (twice weekly), daily guided walks and dockside talks at Windigo and Rock Harbor, living-history fishing demonstration at Edisen Fishery (four times weekly): all available mid-June-Labor Day. Tips & Hints: Come prepared for variable weather, which tends to be cool and wet Apr-early June and Sept.-Oct. Go June-Aug. for flowers, May and Sept. for migrating birds. Bring repellent, netting, long-sleeve shirts, and long pants to avoid bites from mosquitoes, flies, gnats, and other insects. Busiest July and Aug., least crowded in May and Oct.
FOOD & LODGING
Camping: In the park: 112 sites and 50 shelters scattered throughout the park (free; pit toilets; closed Nov.-mid-Apr). Backcountry camping allowed (permit required, see below). Rock Harbor Marina has electrical hook-ups and boat pump-out. In Grand Portage, MN: Grand Portage Marina & Campground (Marina Rd., adjacent to Grand Portage Lodge, tel. 218/475-2476; 10 RV sites, tent campingarea; $12-$20; flush toilets, showers, hook-ups; closed Nov.-Apr). m Hotels: In the park: Rock Harbor Lodge (tel. 906/337-4993 or 270/773-2191 in winter; 52 rooms, 20 cabins; $178-$276; closed early Sept.-late May). In Copper Harbor: Keweenaw Mountain Lodge (U.S. 41, tel. 906/289-4403; 8 rooms, 34 cottages, $77-$ 103; closed mid-Oct.-mid-May). In Grand Portage, MN: Grand Portage Lodge & Casino (Off U.S. 61, tel. 218/ 475-2401 or 800/543-1384; 100 rooms; $67-$77). In Hancock: Ramada Inn (99 Navy St., tel. 906/482-8400; 51 rooms; $85). In Houghton: Best Western Franklin Square Inn (820 Shelden Ave., tel. 906/487-1700; 103 rooms; $99-$ 189). X Restaurants: In the park: Rock Harbor Complex (tel. 906/337-4993 or 270/773-2191; $8-$12; closed early Sept.-late May). In Copper Harbor: Mariner North (245 Gratiot St., tel. 906/289-4637; $5-$ 16; closed weekdays Nov. and Apr.). In Houghton: Suomi Restaurant (54 Huron St., tel. 906/482-3220; $5-$7).
FEES, HOURS & REGULATIONS
User fee: $4 adults, free ages 11 and under. Park access summer only via ferry service, floatplane, or private boat. Personal vessels can access the island mid-Apr.-late Oct. Public transportation to island available mid-May-mid-Oct. from Grand Portage, MN (tel. 715/392-2100), Houghton (tel. 906/482-0984), and Copper Harbor (tel. 906/289-4437). Seaplane service available from Houghton (tel. 906/482-0984). Camping permits (free) required for all camping (available from Windigo and Rock Harbor visitor centers and for boaters from Gun-flint Ranger District in Grand Marais, MN). Michigan state fishing license ($7 for one day) required when fishing in Lake Superior. Dive permits (free) required for all diving. No hunting, pets, bikes, motorized or mechanized equipment allowed. Wheelchairs allowed in developed areas only. Park open mid-Apr.-late Oct., daily. Houghton Visitor Center (off-island in Houghton, MI) open mid-June-late Aug., Mon.-Sat. 8-6; Sept.-mid-June, weekdays 8-4:30. Rock Harbor Visitor Center open June-Labor Day, daily 8-8; intermittently Apr.-May and Labor Day-Oct. Windigo Visitor Center open June-Labor Day, daily 8-6; intermittently Apr.-May and Labor Day-Oct.
HOW TO GET THERE
Via ferry: 22 mi east of Grand Portage, MN; 56 mi northwest of Copper Harbor; and 73 mi north of Houghton. Closest airport: Houghton-Hancock (10 mi from downtown).
Isle Royale National Park (800 E. Lakeshore Dr., Houghton, MI 49931, tel. 906/482-0984, fax 906/487-7170, ). Keweenaw Tourism Council (56638 Calumet Ave., Calumet, MI 49913, tel. 906/ 337-4579 or 800/338-7982).
Isle Royale, Michigan
Established: 1931 Acreage: 571,790
In Lake Superior's northwest corner sits a wilderness archipelago, a roadless land of unspoiled forests, refreshing lakes, rugged scenic shores and wild creatures—accessible only by boat or floatplane. Isle Royale has magnificent forests of aspen, white and yellow birch, balsam fir, northern white cedar, and white and black spruce. Many wildflowers are found on the island, including over 32 species of orchids. Foot trails cover 166 miles (267 km) on Isle Royale, and the island contains numerous inland lakes.
The island supports wolves and moose, both of which probably crossed the ice from Canada in the early part of this century. Part of the island's uniqueness lies in its complex, yet simple, system of natural processes, a system in which moose are dependent on both wolves and beaver—wolves to control the population and beaver to build dams that foster the growth of vegetation upon which the moose feed. For a time the policy was to control the wolf population. This was overdone to such an extent that the deer and moose multiplied to a dangerous number, and they overbrowsed their natural range to a point of mass starvation. Other wild animals on Isle Royale are deer, fox, beaver, mink and snowshoe rabbits.
Long before Europeans saw Isle Royale, Indians mined copper here. On the Store Trail out toward Scoville Point one passes three small pits in the rock which indicate mining activity. Using rounded beach stones as hammers to pound the copper out of the hard bedrock, they formed the copper into beads, fishhooks, knives and other objects. By the 1840s, the only evidence of Indian activity were the remains of a maple sugaring camp on Sugar Mountain and a seasonal fishing camp on Grace Island. Commercial fishing began on Isle Royale in 1837 with the American Fur Company's fishing posts. The major economic species were lake trout, whitefish and herring. Today there are three active fisheries on the island using handlifted gill nets. Sport fishing has replaced commercial fishing, with lake, brook and rainbow trout; northern pike; walleye; and northern pike the most sought after species. Fishing is good throughout the season, but spring and fall produce the largest catches.