Wow! Everyone! I can’t believe I was able to make this trip work. I was lucky, I know it. I have now seen and experienced 47 of the 63 US National Parks! This park is REMOTE! You have to plan and know what you are doing. I read a lot of posts in an Isle Royale Facebook group and I read lots of blog posts about visiting here as well. For instance, I found out that most (practically, all!)) people said that it wasn’t doing the park justice by only visiting for one day. We found the park incredible and feel that any time you can spend there is time well spent!
I will tell you my progression of booking things and how I planned this trip and then I will tell you the things we saw and did. After that, I will give you a tip that I did not find out until I actually experienced Isle Royale for myself. Also, so you know, they pronounce Royale like it is spelled without the E. So they say Isle “Royal”.
The first thing I booked was the Rock Harbor Lodge. By going to their website, which is https://reservations.ahlsmsworld.com/IsleRoyale/Plan-Your-Trip/Accommodations/Rock-Harbor-Lodge?_ga=2.214774423.1256113472.1687117983-261264162.1687117983
The site is easy to navigate and it was simple to see which dates through-out the rest of the summer were available to book. I found 1 Saturday available for the rest of the season and it was a Saturday in June that I could possibly make work. Because I knew the availability would not last, I decided to take the chance of being able to line all of the other ducks in a row around this 1 Saturday in June. If I could not make it work, I was willing to pay the 10% cancellation fee. Luckily, I did make it all work!
The next thing that I did was contact the Isle Royale Seaplane company at
I filled out the reservation form and submitted my information. The website does not notify you then and there as to whether or not you have secured your seats. It takes a few days for them to get back to you and let you know. I am impatient and ended up filling out the form again before they got back to me about my first form. Finally, I heard back from them and they said they were able to accommodate us for our dates, but our times had to shift. I requested leaving in the morning on that Saturday and then returning in the afternoon the following day. Remember, I only have one night at the lodge! The seaplane people said we could leave in the afternoon on Saturday and return in the afternoon on Sunday. I booked that and started to see this trip forming some shape! YAY!
My next challenge was to decide what to do with my 2 dogs. I generally take them with me wherever I go but dogs are not allowed on Isle Royale. I had to think about this for a minute.
Earlier in the month, I had posted in the Isle Royale National Park Facebook Group about being excited to go. Someone reached out to me because of that post saying that they plan Girls’ Trips to Isle Royale and wanted to know if I needed any help. I decided to respond and tell her that while I did not need any help planning the actual trip, did she happen to know any dog sitters in the area of the sea plane in Michigan? Since luck was on my side, she gave me the name of her dog sitter. I contacted this dogsitter and was able to work it out! My two small dogs had a blast and we were only separated for a little over 24 hours. That ended up working out perfectly!
Now, back to the planning of the trip. Next on the list is to nail down when we can leave and where we will stay along the way. I worked backwards from the night before the seaplane trip. I went to google maps and located the seaplane de;arture point. I contacted them to make sure Miss Riggy had a place to park while we were on the island. $12/night, they said, no problem! Ok so back to google maps and searching for a spot to spend the night.
In these past 3+ years of navigating our country with Miss Riggy, I have come across a few different county/city run RV Parks in the heart of that area’s ”downtown” and each one we really liked. I found one such campground in Hancock, MI, which is the town that the Isle Royale Seaplanes take off from! WOO! Now, I have to hope they have some availability. They have an online reservation system, woohoo! I was able to book a spot for the night that we needed and all the planning gods were on my side! https://www.cityofhancock.com/recreation-beach-campground.php That is a link to that campground. I would love to go back there some day!
There is a state park in the middle of Michigan called Sleepy Hollow State Park. I love the name! We stayed there once before and we ended up staying there again on our way up to the Upper Peninsula (the U.P.). It’s a cool state park and when it’s foggy, I really love it! I just imagine a headless horseman riding down the trails and I’m smiling.
The original plan was for Joel to be with me when we left home. That did not happen. He ended up needing to be in a California right before this trip! Instead of coming home and cancelling the trip, Joel packed for both Califonia and our Isle Royale trip, as well as, an Indiana meeting on the backside of this journey. I ended up picking him up actually in Miss Riggy with the dogs at the Detroit airport. Well, actually! I was parked behind a Starbucks and Frankie drove his little Miata to pick up Joel and bring him to me. Frank was never part of the plan to go to Isle Royale but when Joel’s plans changed, I wanted a wingman. I first went online to see what kind of bed layout I had at the Isle Royale Lodge. Good news, Double Beds! That means, so far, I could bring him all the way to Isle Royale. Next I had to find out if I could get him on a seaplane. I was not holding out any hope here, but lo and behold, I was able to get him on a flight before ours and then actually on the same flight as us for the return. These planes only seat either 3 or 5 people besides the pilot. So, it all worked out and Frank got to tag along and help me with the airport pickup of Joel. The dogs were thrilled to see him!
After Frankie and I dropped the doggies off with the dog sitter about 20 minutes more north, we packed up Miss Riggy and headed to the seaplane place. It was a big gravel/dirt parking lot with plenty of space to park. There was one other RV there. All the flights that day were delayed due to fog so we had a bit less time to discover things on the island. No worries, we know how to roll with the punches. We hung out in this lot for a bit and Frankie drove his little car to the local subway and we ate subs before our flight over. We had our backpacks pakced up for our overnight stay. We were complete with bug spray and bug nets for our heads. We watched a couple of seaplanes come in ahead of us while we waited. I will add that to my video for you to see. That should be done in another week or so.
We got a taste of Isle Royale in our short time there. We hiked to Suzy’s Cave. That was a mildly buggy journey, if you kept moving, the bugs didn’t land on you. They were mostly mosquitos. My light colored clothing definitely helped. They gathered on Joel’s dark things way faster. I had my mosquito net in my pack but I didn’t want to stop to put it on. When we did stop at a beach area and it was breezy and not buggy, I decided not to wear it any way. The bugs did get a bit better in some areas but there were also patches of dense mosquitos. Go prepared! After hiking to Suzy’s Cave and back we decided to rent a boat. It was pretty inexpensive at under $65 for 1/2 day+ gas. The gas was under $10. It was fun! We got a lesson on how to use the boat, a map, and some suggestions and off we went.
It was a blast on the boat! We went to a lighthouse and old fish hatchery and an area where all of the sheds from the moose on the island are taken! It was a very cool adventure! We had a lot fewer mosquito issues at the lighthouse area and for the rest of the day, so that was nice for sure! We spent our time walking around on some trails near our stops that I mentioned above and enjoying the view of the Isle Royale Islands from our little boat was icing on the cake. We headed back to the Main area in time to pick up our things from the bag holding area to be ready for our seaplane ride back to the mainland and to pick up our doggies, Piper and Sharona!
My tip for this trip is this. The restaurant closes at 8. They will seat you up until 8pm. I wish I would have realized that instead of showing up at the restaurant at 6:15 and waiting for a table and not being finished until close to 8:15pm anyway. Had I realized, we would have hiked out to the point and had just enough time to be back before the restaurant closed. Turns out, that was one of the hikes I wanted to do, but ended up not doing. The food at the restaurant was really good, FYI!
This was a fabulous park and I hope to get back there some day! I am seeing the end of the list of parks and I don’t have many left! Next up is Lassen Volcanic National Park in just a few days actually! I hope you enjoyed this and it helps to get you to one of our amazing National Parks!