How to Get to Isle Royale National Park

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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 probally 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 National Park.

This post is sponsored by the Keweenaw Adventure Company. They offer a range of kayaking and mountain biking services on the Keweenaw Peninsula. Additionally, they offer Isle Royale guided kayaking trips and shuttles from Hancock Airport to Copper Harbor.

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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.

Click here to start making your reservation.

Our favorite color: Lake Superior.

Posted by Isle Royale Seaplanes on Saturday, December 28, 2019

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

Ranger III

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.

Schedule:

  • 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.

Schedule:

  • 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
    • Everyday
  • September 9 – October 2
    • Monday and Friday

Round Trip Fares: $248 to $272 per person

Houghton to Rock Harbor: 3.5 hours

Voyageur II

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.

Outbound Schedule:

  • 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

Inbound Schedule:

  • 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.

Schedule:

  • 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)

CityMileageKilometersDrive Time
Duluth, MN216 mi348 km4 hours
Milwaukee, WI326 mi525 km5.5 hours
Madison, WI331 mi533 km5.5 hours
Minneapolis, MN369 mi594 km6 hours
Chicago, IL416 mi669 km7 hours
Grand Rapid, MI501 mi806 km8 hours
Detroit, MI554 mi892 km8.75 hours
Omaha, NE736 mi1,184 km11.5 hours
Washington, D.C1,057 mi1,701 km16.5 hours
Atlanta, GA1,138 mi1,831 km17.5 hours
New York City, NY1,151 mi1,852 km18 hours
Denver, CO1,273 mi2,049 km19 hours
Houston, TX1,456 mi2,343 km23 hours
Salt Lake City, UT1,597 mi2,570 km24 hours
Miami, FL1,802 mi2,900 km27 hours
Seattle, WA1,879 mi3,024 km29 hours
Portland, OR1,953 mi3,143 km31 hours
Phoenix, AZ2,002 mi3,222 km31 hours
Los Angeles, CA 2,284 mi3,676 km33 hours

Driving Distances to Grand Portage, MN

CityMileageKilometersDrive Time
Duluth, MN145 mi233 km2.75 hours
Minneapolis, MN299 mi481 km5 hours
Madison, WI477 mi719 km7.5 hours
Milwaukee, WI558 mi898 km8.5 hours
Chicago, IL613 mi987 km9.75 hours
Omaha, NE673 mi1,083 km10.5 hours
Grand Rapid, MI798 mi1,284 km12.5 hours
Detroit, MI825 mi1,328 km13.5 hours
Denver, CO1,210 mi1,996 km18 hours
Washington, D.C1,332 mi2,144 km20.75 hours
Atlanta, GA1,334 mi2,147 km20.5 hours
New York City, NY1,410 mi2,269 km22.25 hours
Houston, TX1,474 mi2,372 km22.75 hours
Salt Lake City, UT1,531 mi2,464 km23.5 hours
Seattle, WA1,805 mi2,905 km28 hours
Portland, OR1,878 mi3,022 km29 hours
Phoenix, AZ1,939 mi3,121 km30 hours
Miami, FL1,999 mi3,217 km30 hours
Los Angeles, CA2,221 mi3,575 km33 hours
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Jennifer Melroy

    Jennifer is a long time national park blogger and the founder of National Park Obsessed. She is a dedicated National Park lover who is working on visiting all 62 US National Parks. She has currently been to 53 of the National Parks. She is dedicated to sharing her knowledge of the Parks with others and helping them learn to love the parks as much as she does.

    Jennifer Melroy has 123 posts and counting. See all posts by Jennifer Melroy

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