The first step in planning any visit to Isle Royale National Park is planning how long to spend in the park and how you are going to get there. Isle Royale is probably the most remote and complex national park to visit in the lower 48. It can be a little tricky to visit. We are going to break down all your options for how to get to Isle Royale National Park.
Help support this site by purchasing one of our National Park Shirts, Poster, and other gear. Every purchase includes a donation to the national parks and helps keep National Park Obsessed’s website free to use and producing more national park guides.
Looking for more help planning your next adventure? Join the National Park Obsessed Facebook Group here to connect other national park lovers, trade advice, or see inspiring photos of the National Parks?
- Quick Guide for the Best ways to Isle Royale National Park
- Best way to get to Isle Royale National Park
- Flying to Isle Royale National Park
- Ferries to Isle Royale National Park
- Driving to Isle Royale National Park
- Pin to Save for Later: how to get to Isle Royale National Park
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning if you book or buy something through one of these links, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you! Read the full disclosure policy here
Quick Guide for the Best ways to Isle Royale National Park
Best way to get to Isle Royale National Park
Flying to Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale is one of the few National Parks you can directly fly to. Well first you have to get to Michigan or Minnesota then you can fly to directly to Isle Royale.
Map of Isle Royale National Park Airports
Seaplane flights to Isle Royale
All flights to Isle Royale are via sea planes. There is no runway in the park.
Isle Royale Seaplanes is the only authorized provider of flights to the island.
The flight to Isle Royale takes about a hour and provides amazing areal views of the islands.
Isle Royale Flights:
- Grand Marais to Windigo
- Grand Marais to Rock Harbor
- Hancock Portage Canal to Windigo
- Hancock Portage Canal to Rock Harbor
- Flights between Rock Harbor and Windigo
The flights cost between $200 and $260 per person for one-way tickets.
Round trip costs between $290 and $380 per person.
Inter-island flights cost $130 a person.
Airport in Isle Royale National Park
Windigo Seaplane Dock
Windigo is located on the southwest end of Isle Royale. Windigo is located in Washington Harbor. The landing area has a small dock. Visitors to Windigo offers several camper cabins, portable water, showers, a camp store and a campground.
Rock Harbor Seaplane Dock
Rock Harbor is located on the northeast end of Isle Royale in Tobin Harbor. It is a short walk from Tobin Harbor to the Rock Harbor area. Visitors to Rock Harbor offers a hotel and cabins along with a campground, restaurant, and general store.
Airports near Isle Royale National Park departure locations
Houghton County Memorial Airport
Houghton County Memorial Airport (CMX) is a tiny airport located in Oneco, MI. It is near the cities of Calumet and Houghton. This small airport has year-round flights from Chicago through United. There are several rental cars available along with an shuttle to Copper Harbor.
Distance from Houghton / Copper Harbor: 8.8 miles / 14 miles
Drive time from Houghton / Copper Harbor: 16 minutes / 55 minutes
Sawyer International Airport
Sawyer International Airport (MQT/SAW) is a small airport and located in Marquette, Michigan. Sawyer has year-round flights provided by American Airlines and Delta. There are direct flights from Chicago, Detroit, and Minneapolis. Rental cars are available.
Indian Trails Bus Company offers buses from Marquette to Houghton.
Distance from Houghton / Copper Harbor: 108 miles / 154 miles
Drive time from Houghton / Copper Harbor: 2 hours / 3 hours
Duluth International Airport
Duluth International Airport (DLH) is a small airport in Duluth, Minnesota. Duluth provides access to all three of Isle Royale’s ferry locations. The airport is served by American Airlines, Delta and United. It has direct flights from Chicago and Minneapolis. Rental cars are available.
Arrowhead Transit offers daily service between Duluth and Grand Marais.
Distance from Houghton / Copper Harbor / Grand Portage: 217 miles / 262 miles / 75 miles
Drive time from Houghton / Copper Harbor / Grand Portage: 4 hours / 5.5 hours / 1.5 hours
Thunder Bay International Airport
Thunder Bay International Airport (YQT) is located in Thunder Bay, Ontario, CANADA. You WILL need a passport to fly into this airport. This small Canadian airport is serviced by the major Canadian airlines and has regularly scheduled service from most major Canadian cities.
Distance from Grand Portage: 55 miles
Drive time from Grand Portage: 1 hours
Major Airports within a one day drive of Isle Royale National Park
Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport
Minneapolis−Saint Paul International Airport (MSP) is the closest major airport to Isle Royale National Park and located in Minneapolis, MN. Minneapolis is Delta’s third largest hub and offers flights to a wide range of US and international destinations. Rental cars are available.
Distance from Houghton / Copper Harbor / Grand Portage: 373 miles / 419 miles / 309 miles
Drive time from Houghton / Copper Harbor / Grand Portage: 6.25 hours / 7.25 hours / 5 hours
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport
Milwaukee Mitchell International Airport (MKE) is a medium sized airport located near Milwaukee, WI. It is primarily serviced by Southwest, United, Delta, and American Airlines. It offers flights from most major US cities. Rental cars are available.
Indian Trails Bus Company offers buses from Milwaukee to Houghton.
Distance from Houghton / Copper Harbor / Grand Portage: 334 miles / 380 miles / 582 miles
Drive time from Houghton / Copper Harbor / Grand Portage: 5.5 hours / 6.5 hours / 9.5 hours
Ferries to Isle Royale National Park
The Ranger III ferry is National Park Service’s largest motorized vessel and the cheapest ferry option to Isle Royale National Park. The Ranger II is 165 ft long and 34 feet wide. Services are offered from late May though early September. The boat has indoor and outdoor seating, four passenger lounges, luncheon grill and interpretative ranger led program.
- Houghton to Rock Harbor – Tuesday and Fridays
- Rock Harbor to Houghton – Wednesdays and Saturdays
- Houghton to Windigo – First Sunday of the month
- Windigo to Houghton – First Monday of the month
Round Trip Fares: $110 to $140 per person
Houghton to Rock Harbor: 6 hours
Isle Royale Queen IV
The Isle Royale Queen IV is a 100-foot long private vessel that carries 85 passengers. It departs from Copper Harbor, Michigan and travels to Rock Harbor and back in the same day.
Isle Royale Queen IV does day trips. Day-trippers will have between 1.5 and 3 hours in the Rock Harbor area. Time varies based on weather conditions.
- May 15 – June 5
- Monday and Friday
- June 8 – June 30
- Everyday except Wednesday and Sunday
- July 2 – July 21
- Everyday except Wednesday
- July 23 – September 7
- September 9 – October 2
- Monday and Friday
Round Trip Fares: $248 to $272 per person
Houghton to Rock Harbor: 3.5 hours
The Voyageur II is a 65-foot long vessel. It departs from Grand Portage, MN and circumnavigates Isle Royale over two days. The outbound trip stops at Windigo, McCaroe Cove, and Belle Isle before arriving at Rock Harbor. The following day the Voyageur stops at Dasiy Farm, Chippewa Harbor, Malone Bay, and Windigo before returning to Grand Portage, MN.
Voyageur II passengers need to stay on Isle Royale overnight.
The Voyageur II departs Grand Portage on Monday, Wednesdays and Saturdays. It returns on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday.
- Depart: Grand Portage, MN – 7:30 AM CDT
- Arrive: Windigo, Isle Royale – 9:30 AM CDT
- Depart: Windigo, Isle Royale – 10:00 AM CDT
- Arrive and depart: McCargoe Cove – 01:00 PM CDT
- Arrive and depart: Belle Isle – 01:30 PM CDT
- Arrive: Rock Harbor – 03:00 PM CDT
- Depart: Rock Harbor, Isle Royale – 8:00 AM CDT
- Arrive and depart: Daisy Farm – 8:30 AM CDT
- Arrive and depart: Chippewa Harbor – 9:00 AM CDT
- Arrive and depart: Malone Bay – 10:00 AM CDT
- Arrive: Windigo, Isle Royale – 12:30 PM CDT
- Depart: Windigo, Isle Royale – 01:00 PM CDT
- Arrive: Grand Portage, MN – 03:00 PM CDT
Round Trip Fares: $124 to $188 per person
Grand Portage to Windigo: 2 hours
Sea Hunter II
The Seahunter III is a 65-foot long vessel. It departs from Grand Portage, MN and travels to Windigo and back on the same day. This vessel takes 1.5 hours each way.
Seahunter III does day trips. Day-trippers will have about 4 hours in the Windigo area. Time varies based on weather conditions.
- June 10 – July 11
- Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday
- July 15 – August 16
- Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday
- August 19 – September 5
- Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday
Driving to Isle Royale National Park
Isle Royale is an island in the middle of Lake Superior. There are NO real roads on the islands so there is no driving to the park but you can drive to the ferry or seaplane ports in Michigan or Minnesota.
Driving Distances to Houghton, MI National Park (add an hour if headed to Copper Harbor)
|Duluth, MN||216 mi||348 km||4 hours|
|Milwaukee, WI||326 mi||525 km||5.5 hours|
|Madison, WI||331 mi||533 km||5.5 hours|
|Minneapolis, MN||369 mi||594 km||6 hours|
|Chicago, IL||416 mi||669 km||7 hours|
|Grand Rapid, MI||501 mi||806 km||8 hours|
|Detroit, MI||554 mi||892 km||8.75 hours|
|Omaha, NE||736 mi||1,184 km||11.5 hours|
|Washington, D.C||1,057 mi||1,701 km||16.5 hours|
|Atlanta, GA||1,138 mi||1,831 km||17.5 hours|
|New York City, NY||1,151 mi||1,852 km||18 hours|
|Denver, CO||1,273 mi||2,049 km||19 hours|
|Houston, TX||1,456 mi||2,343 km||23 hours|
|Salt Lake City, UT||1,597 mi||2,570 km||24 hours|
|Miami, FL||1,802 mi||2,900 km||27 hours|
|Seattle, WA||1,879 mi||3,024 km||29 hours|
|Portland, OR||1,953 mi||3,143 km||31 hours|
|Phoenix, AZ||2,002 mi||3,222 km||31 hours|
|Los Angeles, CA||2,284 mi||3,676 km||33 hours|
Driving Distances to Grand Portage, MN
|Duluth, MN||145 mi||233 km||2.75 hours|
|Minneapolis, MN||299 mi||481 km||5 hours|
|Madison, WI||477 mi||719 km||7.5 hours|
|Milwaukee, WI||558 mi||898 km||8.5 hours|
|Chicago, IL||613 mi||987 km||9.75 hours|
|Omaha, NE||673 mi||1,083 km||10.5 hours|
|Grand Rapid, MI||798 mi||1,284 km||12.5 hours|
|Detroit, MI||825 mi||1,328 km||13.5 hours|
|Denver, CO||1,210 mi||1,996 km||18 hours|
|Washington, D.C||1,332 mi||2,144 km||20.75 hours|
|Atlanta, GA||1,334 mi||2,147 km||20.5 hours|
|New York City, NY||1,410 mi||2,269 km||22.25 hours|
|Houston, TX||1,474 mi||2,372 km||22.75 hours|
|Salt Lake City, UT||1,531 mi||2,464 km||23.5 hours|
|Seattle, WA||1,805 mi||2,905 km||28 hours|
|Portland, OR||1,878 mi||3,022 km||29 hours|
|Phoenix, AZ||1,939 mi||3,121 km||30 hours|
|Miami, FL||1,999 mi||3,217 km||30 hours|
|Los Angeles, CA||2,221 mi||3,575 km||33 hours|
Get help planning your trip to Isle Royale National Park:
- National Parks of Michigan
- How to Get to Isle Royale
- 16 Things to know before visiting Isle Royale National Park