|Here it is. Isle Royale National Park—(black arrow)—|
is encompassed and dwarfed by Lake Superior.
Green hatched lines show ferry routes to the park.
Three things have long intrigued me about Isle Royale National Park:
Isle Royale Seaplane
|The seaplane can be chartered from Houghton, Michigan or Grand Portage, Minnesota.|
Here, the plane lands on the relatively protected waters of Tobin Harbor
on the eastern edge of the island.
|Passengers ready to board at the Tobin Harbor "terminal". No TSA!|
The Isle Royale Queen
|"The Queen" sails out of Copper Harbor, Michigan and makes its three hour run|
every day. The ride on this ship is described as nausea-inducing.
|The Voyageur II sails from Grand Portage, Minnesota and typically provides service|
around the entire island every two days. It does not run on Fridays.
|The Ranger III sails into Rock Harbor. This 165 foot sea-worthy vessel|
was built in 1958 and has been serving the national park service ever since.
The Ranger III arrives in Rock Harbor on Tuesdays and Fridays and
departs on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Let's review the options.
The Seaplane? Because of the unpredictable weather and my inherent fear of small planes, the seaplane is out.
The Isle Royale Queen? Having read the Queen described as "The Barf Wagon of the Sea", I don't think so.
The Voyageur II? Its schedule did not fit ours and I wanted to leave from Michigan and not Minnesota. And besides, just look at it!
Two other (not practical for us) transportation choices were available. The Sea Hunter III sails from Grand Portage, Minnesota to Windigo Harbor but does not continue on to Rock Harbor, home to the Visitor Center, lodge and restaurants.
Also, you may paddle your own kayak or canoe to Isle Royale from the mainland. This has been done exactly twice since the park was established in 1940. Lake Superior has recorded 40 foot waves, so this option seems either very brave, or very foolish.
After careful deliberation I chose the vessel operated by the National Park Service. The Ranger III—the largest passenger ferry service to the park—is also the largest moving piece of equipment owned and operated by the National Park Service. Note that large is the operative word here. Lake Superior is notorious for its storms and rough seas and, as I am prone to extreme motion sickness, a sturdy mode of transport seemed the logical choice.
|The Ranger III as seen from our hotel across the street on the morning of|
our departure. The Ranger III sails from Houghton, Michigan and makes
its six-hour trip across Lake Superior twice a week from early June
until early September.
|Luggage and kayaks are loaded on the Ranger III before the passengers board.|
|Please click on this map to enlarge and view details|
of Isle Royale.
The pieces have come together, the puzzle has been solved and Tim and I have arrived at the park.
Rest assured that voice will return in the next post, where I'll describe what to see and do in Isle Royale National Park.