A Superior Wilderness Experience!

Isle Royale, a rugged, isolated island, far from the sights and sounds of civilization. In the northwest corner of Lake Superior the Isle is surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude and adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers. Here, amid stunning scenic beauty. It is one of Michigan’s 5 National Parks, and one of the very few island national parks in the United States. It is mostly a spectacular north woods wilderness.

Visitors traveling to this Island paradise must arrive by boat or seaplane.  Transportation services depart from Houghton, Michigan, Copper Harbor, Michigan and Grand Portage, Minnesota.  Our ferry trip is a long one, some 55 miles from Grand Portage MN. But that’s the only transportation service from Minnesota. The Voyager II makes twice weekly crossings in just over 2 hours – then another 5 hours following the northern contour of the island from west to east dropping off (or picking up) canoeists, backpackers and finally passengers, to the one developed area of the island, the Rock Harbor Entrance.   At Rock Harbor, there’s the Rock Harbor Lodge offering cabins and motel-style rooms. The Lodge, owned by Forever Resorts, has a dining room and grill that are open to all island visitors and also operates a Marina, General Store, and other amenities.  The U.S. National Park Service operates Rock Harbor Visitors Center who collects a $4/day fee for each visitor on the island (David’s senior National Park Pass was not accepted).

Except for the small-developed area of Rock Harbor, the island is entirely wilderness.  It’s a huge island. Isle Royale is 45 miles long and about 10 miles wide. It’s the second largest island in the Great Lakes. Isle Royale is home to 1200 moose, 3 wolves and many loons.   We didn’t see any moose.  It’s a wilderness and hence much more rugged and pristine, the vegetation is incredibly thick. This makes it one of the most unusual places in North America, a spectacular and rugged Great Lakes wilderness that’s very close to America’s heartland.

David and I took a nice hike exploring along the shore of this great island, where we came across a number of beautiful scenes in the moderately foggy conditions on an Isle Royale summer afternoon. The day we embarked from Grand Portage the fog was thick; rolling in and out all day along Isle Royale, and open Lake Superior was fogged in tight throughout the day. That is dense fog hugging the shore in the distance of the photo, though you can hardly see that it’s there. It’s the absence of the horizon that indicates the fog’s presence.

We took local boat transport supported by NPS interpretative Rangers to outer islands to visit lighthouses, and learn about historic fishing enterprises and an active moose research station.

The fog lifted during our first of 3 nights staying on the island. The remaining time on the island was sunny and mild with the water temperature reported to be 37 degrees. The spring flowers are in bloom along the trail, making the way even more beautiful.  The water environment is excellent for breeding mosquitoes and biting black flies.  They aren’t too bad near the beach because of prevailing winds, but inland trails are thick with them.  The solution is a head net as modeled by Karen. It’s must be pretty bad when you see all the hikers wearing them.  Karen must have gotten a dozen bites on the back of her neck before giving in and wearing the fashionable green netting.