Best Island Kayaking
Is there another national park where boaters, wolves, and blueberries mix so perfectly?
Like a day at the stock market, Isle Royale National Park’s story can be told in numbers: More than 98 percent of this 850-square-mile island is designated wilderness, and it takes at least 2 hours to get there by ferry. The first two numbers are powerful attractors, but the last one keeps the kayaking crowds away. Result? Paddlers who make the effort to reach Isle Royale will find hermit-worthy solitude even in midsummer, when hikers flock to the park’s trails but leave the coastal areas to kayakers. Two options: Camp near the Rock Harbor Lighthouse on Caribou or Tookers Islands, and explore the coastline and small offshore islands nearby; or tackle the three-portage route linking Chippewa Harbor, Lake Whittlesey, Wood Lake, Siskiwit Lake, and Intermediate Lake (a special permit allows you to camp anywhere along the shorelines; elsewhere, camping is restricted to designated sites). From Chippewa Harbor, ambitious paddlers can actually connect lake-to-lake portages all the way across the island and catch the ferry at McCargoe Cove. When you’re not on the water, look for moose, listen for wolves, and hunt for blueberries.
Get there Board the Voyageur II at Grand Portage, MN, and get dropped off at Chippewa Harbor (for the inland route) or Rock Harbor (for coastal paddling). Ferry service: www.grand-isle-royale.com. Kayak rentals and guided trips: www.superiorcoastal.com
Season May through October
Difficulty Moderate. Bad weather can make coastal kayaking tough for inexperienced paddlers.
Contact Isle Royale National Park, (906) 482-0984; www.nps.gov/isro