Stunning rock formations, crystal-clear waters, lush forests—these are just a few of the many reasons to visit Isle Royale National Park! Located on an island chain in Lake Superior, this destination is ideal for the adventure-seeker. With an abundance of hiking trails, waterways, and magnificent views as far as the eye can see, Isle Royale National Park should be on your travel bucket list!
In this post, we’ll talk about even more reasons why you should visit this incredible national park, especially in a campervan. We’ll discuss the top hiking trails, campgrounds, and attractions in the area. Keep reading to get started!
About Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale National Park offers 850 miles of remote wilderness. The area features 165 miles of breathtaking hiking trails, 36 comfortable campgrounds, and countless activities for the whole family to enjoy. However, while several travel destinations involve these qualities, Isle Royale National Park holds one unique feature—it’s only accessible by boat or plane! This makes this destination extremely remote. You can access the park on a ferry, which is a 3.5-hour ride one way. You can also get there by seaplane, which takes less than an hour.
Keep in mind Isle Royale National Park is only open on a seasonal basis, from April 16 through October 31. Due to extreme weather conditions, the park is closed during the winter months.
Where to Stop Along the Way
Before you arrive in the area on your road trip, be sure to make the following stops along the journey:
As you go north towards the park, consider stopping in the great state of Missouri. Our favorite adventure destinations include Dogwood Canyon State Park and Ha Ha Tonka State Park. These attractions offer amazing water features and rock formations, including rich histories. If you pass through Wisconsin, you can’t pass up the stunning canyon called Witches Gulch. Another magical place in the state is Schoolhouse Beach Park.
Headed west on your journey? If you pass through the state of Ohio, consider stopping in Hocking Hills State Park. This area features calming streams, unique rock formations, and breathtaking waterfalls. To get your heart racing, check out Cedar Point amusement park near Cleveland. This park offers exhilarating rides! If your journey takes you through New York state, you have to check out Niagara Falls. This area turns into an epic winter wonderland during the colder months, featuring snow-covered trees, magical icicles, and misty falls. The waterfalls are also lit up at night for a mesmerizing display like no other! Visiting other times of year is much more comfortable, but the crowds are much bigger.
If your journey takes you through Ontario, Canada, adventure is out there! Consider stopping at Lake Nipigon, the largest lake in Ontario. This area features fantastic beaches, great swimming, and world-famous fishing. In fact, this lake is known as one of the top cold-water fisheries on the planet! If you’re looking for a fun hiking trail, check out the nearby Rainbow Falls Trail, Palisades Trail, and Cathy’s Lake Loop.
On an eastern drive into the area, you can’t pass up Glacier National Park in Montana. This majestic park offers some of the most stunning scenery on earth. You’ll find waterfalls, skyscraping mountain peaks, calming creeks, and thriving wildlife. Another great stopping point is Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. We recommend hiking the Ridgeline Trail, Buck Hill, Lone Tree Loop, or Buckhorn.
Isle Royale: Unique Adventures in a Remote Wilderness
Exploring the island paradise of Isle Royale is an experience like no other. With majestic forests, rich wildlife, and endless views, this unique destination is a must-see.
Below you’ll find our favorite activities in the area:
Hiking in Isle Royale National Park is one of the most popular activities on the island! Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, there are trails for everyone. One popular route is Stoll Memorial Trail, an easy route that captures the vast beauty of Lake Superior. Another option is the hike to Suzy’s Cave, an inland sea arch and wave-carved cliff. A few other popular hikes include Grace Creek Overlook and Minong Ridge Overlook.
If you’re looking for a longer, overnight excursion on the island, check out some of the area’s backpacking trails! The park features 36 campgrounds, all of which are only accessible by boat or foot. While you do need to put in some effort to reach these destinations, they do come with accommodations, such as designated sites, a water source, and restrooms. Keep in mind permits are required for camping anywhere within the park.
Isle Royale National Park is also a fantastic fishing destination! Whether you fish in Lake Superior or the inland waters on the island, great fishing is found all over. While you do need a fishing license to cast your line into Lake Superior, a license isn’t needed for fishing on Isle Royale’s interior waters.
Canoeing & Kayaking
If you’re after a peaceful ride on the water, consider canoeing or kayaking in Isle Royale National Park! With stunning rock formations, unique coves, and endless terrain to explore, paddling is one of the most beloved activities in the area! Keep in mind there is a fee for bringing over a canoe or kayak on a ferry. However, you can find boat rentals on the island at Windigo and Rock Harbor.
While camping opportunities are found throughout this island paradise, you can’t bring your campervan or RV. That said, consider camping on the mainland before taking a ferry to Isle Royale for your adventures. We recommend campgrounds and RV parks near Houghton, MI; Copper Harbor, MI; or Grand Portage, MN.
Check out our favorites below:
- Happy Land RV Park
- City of Houghton RV Park
- Hancock Campground
Whether you camp on the island or the mainland, this region offers stunning scenery and even better adventures!
- Plan ahead: Planning can take a lot of time, especially since you have to transport to the island. That said, get a head start on the process.
- Stay a few days: As the journey to the island takes hours, stay for a few days to soak it all in!
- Check the weather: Local weather highly depends on Lake Superior, so consistently check the weather before your trip and come prepared.
- Understand the risks: From slippery rocks to unexpected terrain, always be prepared for the many safety hazards.
Here’s more information about some popular attractions in the area:
- Suzy’s Cave: Located in Rock Harbor
- Grace Creek Overlook: Begins in Windigo
- Stoll Memorial Trail: Starts in Rock Harbor
- Minong Ridge Overlook: Located in Windigo
Campgrounds & RV Parks
- Happy Land RV Park: 4650 Hwy. 11-17, Kakabeka Falls, ON P7K 0J1, Canada
- City of Houghton RV Park: 1100 W Lakeshore Dr, Houghton, MI 49931
- Hancock Campground: 2000 Jasberg Street, M203, Hancock, MI 49930
Here are some lesser-known, off-the-beaten-path hiking trails in Isle Royale National Park:
- Feldtmann Ridge Trail
- Raspberry Island Loop
- Rainbow Cove Trail
- Indian Portage Trail
These trails are a sure way to find some peace and quiet in this remote wilderness!
Find a New Campervan Today!
If you’re ready to embark on an adventure to Isle Royale National Park, Rec Van wants to help you get there. Whether you need a basic RV or a campervan with all the upgrades, we have you covered!
Check out our expansive inventory today, and call us with any questions!