Lake Superior’s Isle Royale National Park is an island of wild creatures, unspoiled forests, refreshing lakes, and rugged scenery. Hike trails known for moose sightings, amazing stargazing from reduced light population, and visit one of the least frequented National Parks as you can only reach the island via boat or plane. Discover this U.S. Biosphere Reserve known for its isolated population of wolves and moose. Trip fee includes a round-trip ferry from the mainland.
ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Spend the evening camping in Judge C.R. Magney State Park. Get to know your trip mates over a delicious meal.
Drive from Minneapolis to Grand Portage, MN. Camp at Judge C.R. Magney State Park that evening. Get packs ready to go meet the ferry in the morning.
Day 2: Take the ferry to Windigo to pick up your permit and then onto McCargoe Cove where your Isle Royale adventure begins.
Get up early to meet the morning ferry for the 3-hour ride to Windigo on the western end of the island. Pick up permits at the ranger station then you’ll continue on to McCargoe Cove to start your hike and set up camp for night 1 on the island.
Day 3: Make the trek from McCargoe Cove to Chickenbone Lake
Enjoy a hearty breakfast before breaking camp and setting out on your way to Chickenbone Lake. Your first full day on the Island!
Day 4: Hike the stunning Greenstone Ridge Trail toward Daisy Farm
Your longest trek on the Islands starts today. You’ll spend a good portion of the day walking on a 1.2 billion year old lava formation that is the very reason there is a land mass in the middle of Lake Superior.
Day 5: Break camp and head towards Three Mile camp
After a day of elevation climbs and topping out on Isle Royale. Today’s trek is a recovery hike by comparison. Enjoy following a trail never too far from Rock Harbor in case you want to cool off.
Day 6: Three Mile campground to Rock Harbor
As the campground name implies, you're still about three miles from Rock Harbor where we will be departing in the early morning the following day. Once you get to Rock Harbor, you should have plenty of time to do some exploring without backpacks for your last full day.
Day 7: Enjoy one last sunrise on Isle Royale before catching the ferry back to Grand Portage
One last circumnavigation via the Voyageur II of Isle Royale before arriving back in Grand Portage that afternoon to depart and head home.
Dates & Fees
What to Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: Isle Royale is rugged, with rocky terrain, and significant elevation changes. Isle Royale offers a wide range of route options that offer incredible views of Lake Superior, neighboring islands, and wildlife.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: Travel distances vary from 4-7 miles (4-6 hours) each day with the exception of scheduled layover days. To protect the environment, Wilderness Inquiry uses Leave No Trace camping techniques.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 45 F to 80 F. Rainfall can vary, but you should expect at least a day or two of rain. The weather is greatly affected by Lake Superior’s large expanse of cold water. Lake Superior is notorious for sudden weather changes.
ACCOMMODATIONS: This is a camping trip. At night you will sleep in a comfortable and spacious tent. Typically, there are 2 people per 3 person tent (although other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities consist of an outhouse or a foldable commode chair set up in a privacy tent. We make every effort to ensure privacy and cleanliness.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 6 to 8 participants, plus 2 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds and abilities, including people with disabilities. Our trips are cooperative adventures and people pitch in with camp chores as they are able.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: If you are new to outdoor activities, you need not spend a lot of money on gear. Wilderness Inquiry will provide all necessary camping equipment. All you need to provide is your personal gear, such as clothing and a sleeping bag. A detailed equipment list will be sent to you upon confirmation of your participation. If you need to borrow personal gear, that can usually be arranged.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: No previous experience is needed to complete this trip, however, this is one the most physically demanding hiking trips that WI does.
COVID POLICY: We continue to monitor and update our COVID-19 policies. Wilderness Inquiry strongly encourages everyone to be fully up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination and take other necessary steps for the health and wellness of all. We ask you to self-screen for any signs of illness prior to your trip’s departure. Please contact Wilderness Inquiry if you are exhibiting signs of illness. We will also continue to follow all guidance and requirements of locations that we travel, keeping in mind some international destinations do require vaccinations and/or negative covid tests. We will update this policy as new information and guidance becomes available.
SAFETY WHILE ON TRAIL: Though not required, some individuals may choose to wear a mask, and we expect all participants to respect this choice. Please ensure proper hygiene including, but not limited to, hand-washing and/or sanitizing before eating and after using the restroom. Individuals who become ill or test positive for COVID-19 during a Wilderness Inquiry experience will be isolated to the best of the group’s ability and are responsible for their own transportation and expenses to depart the trip.Read more »
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where do we meet?
Standard Meeting Places and Times
Start: Judge CR Magney State Park at 5:00 PM (local time)
End: Grand Portage Isle Royale Lines at 3:00 PM (local time)
This trip begins in Copper Harbor, MI the evening of the first day of the trip. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip.
About the AreaLocated in the northwest corner of the world’s largest freshwater lake, Isle Royale National Park is a wilderness archipelago. The interrelationships of the islands’ mammals have been the focus of the world’s longest running wildlife research project. The relationships between moose and wolves have been studied for over 40 years, providing information regarding population patterns, dependence upon other animals and genetic loss as a result of inbreeding.
An aerial view of this park reveals clues to the formation of the islands and the existence of a massive rift in the earth’s crust. All the islands are relatively long and narrow and geologists theorize that the land is part of the original Superior basin which formed 1.2 billion years ago. In more recent years, glaciers had a significant impact on the land as they retreated and left small linear deposits, forming hills on the southwestern part of the islands. Over the next several thousand years vegetation took root on the islands and eventually attracted and supported wildlife.
Long before the arrival of the biologists on Isle Royale, Paleo-Indians frequented the islands and mined the rich copper deposits. The copper was shaped into ceremonial pieces and tools which, in turn, were traded for goods. Large scale mining of the region didn’t start until the mid 1800’s and had a relatively short existence due to the small quantities of available copper. In the early 20th century tourism became popular as people learned of this wild and remote region.
In 1948, a 15-mile ice bridge formed, connecting Isle Royale with the mainland. It was during this winter that a small pack of wolves migrated to the island in search of food. With a substantial moose population already established, the wolf population flourished. Since the arrival of the wolves, wildlife biologists have focused their attention on the interdependence of organisms within this isolated environment.
In 1920 Albert Stoll, Jr. argued for the preservation of Isle Royale as a National Park and won the support of Stephen Mather, Director of the National Park Service. Unfortunately, it took Mather’s death in 1930 to create renewed public attention which led to the signing of a bill establishing Isle Royale as a National Park. Due to WWII, formal dedication did not occur until 1946.Read more »