Isle Royale National Park is located in the furthest northwest region of Michigan in the waters of Lake Superior, United States. The park covers an area of 894 square miles (2,320 sq km).
The boundaries of the park are comprised of 209 square miles (540 sq km) of island landmasses and 685 square miles (1,770 sq km) of the neighboring waters. These islands and surrounding waters are recognized by UNESCO as an International Biosphere Reserve.
The park features around 400 islands including Isle Royale which is the largest. The Great Lakes Spruce, Great Lakes fir, and Northern Conifer are leading forest species. Other species include black spruces, white spruces, red oaks, paper birches, red maples, sugar maples, and mountain ash.
The thick rich vegetation is home to some exciting wildlife. Some of the favored species include the moose and timber wolf. The number of these species varies year to year. The park is more known for bird species versus traditional wildlife. There are over 200 species of birds scattered across the islands and wetlands.
The remoteness of this national park and challenges to accessing it makes it the least visited national park in the lower contiguous 48 states. Gates of the Arctic, Kobuk Valley, and Lake Clark in Alaska are the only parks with fewer visitors.
Isle Royale Highlights
Hiking and kayaking the islands are the primary draw to the park. Visitors that make the journey to this remote part of the world are looking for the tranquility and uniqueness the park has to offer.
Isle Royale is the largest island in Lake Superior and the largest island in the national park. The island measures 45 miles (72 km) long while reaching a width of 9 miles (14 km).
Isle Royale is a large enough island with elevation changes that have allowed for streams and inland lakes separate from Lake Superior.
Trails of Isle Royale National Park
Although the park is comprised of a series of islands, there are over 165 miles (266 km) hiking trails to explore the area. Several of the campgrounds are only reachable by hiking or kayaking.
Greenstone Ridge Trail: This is the most adventurous trail in the park and the longest. It crosses from one end of the island to the other covering a distance of 40 miles (64 km). The 4 to 5-day trek is the most intimate way to experience what Isle Royale has to offer.
Stoll Trail: This is one of the easy 4.1-mile (6.60 km) loop trails that provide views of the rocky rugged coastline. There is only an elevation gain of 111 feet (33.8 m).
Tobin Harbor Trail: This is another easy trail that features a longer journey. The point-to-point trail covers a distance of 5.9 miles (1.79 km) while meandering through the forests and out to a view of the lake. The way back lets you relive the tranquil forests.
Scoville Point Loop: This is a moderate rated trail with a distance of 4.9-miles (7.88 km) that features an elevation gain of 849 feet (258.7 m). There will be views of the lake, chances to see wildlife and rocky and forested terrain.
Isle Royale Highlights
- All Trails, Best Trails in Isle Royale National Park, https://www.alltrails.com/parks/us/michigan/isle-royale-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- Britannica, Isle Royale National Park, https://www.britannica.com/place/Isle-Royale-National-Park, retrieved June 2020.
- Michigan, Isle Royale National Park, https://www.michigan.org/property/isle-royale-national-park, retrieved June 2020.
- National Geographic, Complete National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Publishing, Washington DC.
- National Geographic, Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society, 2003.
- National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
- National Park Service, Isle Royale, https://www.nps.gov/isro/index.htm, retrieved June 2020.