Boating Guide

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Help Isle Royale stay wild by following these best practices on your powerboating or sailing trip.

Powerboats and sailboats docked.
Plan ahead to have a safe and enjoyable boating experience.


Isle Royale National Park regulations are intended to protect park resources and visitor experiences. Visitors are responsible for adhering to regulations. The park’s boundary extends 4-1/2 miles into Lake Superior from the outer islands or to the international boundary. No pets allowed.

Boater Permits

All boaters staying overnight at anchor, at docks, or in campgrounds need to permit in advance.

Permits should be displayed on the boat when at anchor, at dock, or in the campground on a shelter or tent.


Park Entrance Fees

A per person daily entrance fee is required to enter and remain in the park. Children 15 and under are exempt. Pay fees online prior to your trip.

The Isle Royale Season Pass includes up to three adults traveling with the pass holder. All Federal Recreation Passes will be honored for the pass holder and up to 3 accompanying adults. You must present your pass upon arrival in the park.

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A photo taken from a large dock at sunset
Sunset at the Windigo Dock.

Kaitlyn Knick

Camping and Docks

All dock space and small-party campsites (including shelters) are available first-come, first-served. They may not be reserved or held for others. From July to September, expect crowded conditions at docks and campgrounds. Observe stay limits for docks and campgrounds; most stay limits are in effect June 1 through Labor Day. Rock Harbor, Three Mile, Lane Cove, and Washington Creek stay limits are in effect June 1 through Septemebr 17.

Boaters already set up at a tent site or shelter, and who have a valid camping permit, must be given priority access to dock space. When not in camp, many boaters leave fenders attached to the dock to indicate occupancy of a campsite.

You may only use one shelter and shelters may not be used solely for cooking or storage. Do not use staples or nails on shelters. A tent may be erected inside a shelter. Tents and hammocks may be erected outside a shelter only when all other campsites are full, and full campground guidance options have been exhausted. Hammocks may not be erected inside shelters. Do not alter the landscape by digging, trenching, etc.

Generally, only docks that adjoin campgrounds are open for overnight use. The Rock Harbor Marina provides nightly slip rentals with utility service hook-ups. Get more information about boat-in campgrounds and docks.

The following docks are open for day use only, from 6 am until 10 pm eastern time:

  • Any NPS or concession fuel dispensing dock
  • Shipwreck Mooring buoys (for active diving only)
  • Amygdaloid Island Dock
  • Crystal Cove Dock
  • Edisen Fishery Dock
  • Hidden Lake Dock
  • Mott Island Docks
  • Passage Island Dock
  • Raspberry Island Dock
  • Wright Island Dock
  • Any other dock posted or signed as closed to overnight use

The following docks are closed to public use:

  • Malone Bay Dock, North Side
  • Ranger III Dock at Rock Harbor
  • Ranger III Dock at Mott Island
  • Any other dock posted or signed as closed to public entry

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Regular Dock Closures

Dock closures to accommodate passenger ferry and tour boat operations. Closures in eastern time.

Daisy Farm


9:00 am to 10:00 am

Chippewa Harbor


9:30 am to 11:00 am

Malone Bay


10:30 am to noon

McCargoe Cove


2:00 pm to 3:00 pm

Belle Isle


2:30 pm to 3:30 pm


Thurs/Sun (7/12 – 8/13)

Noon to 2:30 pm



10:00 am to 3:00 pm

Dock closures to accommodate The Sandy tour boat. Closures in eastern time.

Edisen Fishery

Tues and Thurs

2:30 pm to 5:30 pm


9:30 am to 12:30 pm

Hidden Lake

Tues and Thurs

9:30 am to 11:30 am

Passage Island

Mon and Fri

2:30 pm to 5:30 pm


10:00 am to 1:00 pm

Raspberry Island

Tues and Fri

8:00 pm to 9:00 pm


3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

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Restricted Activities

Water skiing and personal watercraft (e.g. Jet skis and Waverunners) are prohibited.

Vessels with motors (even if not in use) are prohibited on inland lakes and streams.

No drones are allowed within park boundaries.



Dogs, cats and other mammals are not allowed. This includes pets on boats within the park boundaries, which extend 4 ½ miles into Lake Superior from the outermost land areas of the park. Visitors bringing pets to Isle Royale will be required to leave immediately. Pets disturb wildlife and can transmit diseases. Special conditions apply to guide dogs.


On-board Electronics

Operation of electronic and motorized devices such as stereos, televisions, radios turned to commercial stations and portable generators are not permitted except in developed and open-water motorized zones.

Developed areas include Windigo, Rock Harbor, and the Mott Island. Open water motorized zones include Lake Superior waters outside of designated Quiet/No Wake Zones.

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On-board Generators

Allowed: The operation or use of permanently-installed (by manufacturer) on-board vessel generators is allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. eastern time in developed zones, and at the following docks: Beaver Island, Belle Isle, Caribou Island, Grace Island, Hay Bay, Malone Bay, Rock Harbor, Tobin Harbor, and Windigo.

Prohibited: The operation of such generators is prohibited at: Birch Island, Chippewa Harbor, Daisy Farm, Duncan Bay, Duncan Narrows, McCargoe Cove, Merritt Lane, Moskey Basin, Siskiwit Bay, Three Mile, Todd Harbor, and Tookers Island.

At Anchor: The operation of such generators is permitted between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm eastern time while at anchor within Hay Bay and at anchor within other Quiet/No Wake Zones except when anchored within 1/4 mile of designated park campground (listed above) where on-board generator use is prohibited.


Quiet/No Wake Zones

These zones protect the natural quiet and wilderness values sought by most Isle Royale visitors and reduce wake impacts. Within Quiet/No-Wake Zones, vessels must not exceed 5 mph or create a wake in excess of surrounding seas. Quiet/No-Wake Zones are not marked by buoys. Boaters are responsible for knowing the locations of Quiet/No Wake Zones.

Spiny Water Flea
Spiny water fleas are found in Lake Superior. Please help prevent further spread of this invasive species, especially into non-infested waters like Isle Royale's inland lakes.

Aquatic Invasive Species

Zebra mussels and other Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) pose a serious threat.
Vessel owners are legally responsible for invasive species decontamination prior to entering park waters (extending 4.5 miles into Lake Superior from the outermost land areas of the park). All vessels, including non-motorized craft, visiting or transiting park waters, along with associated equipment must be decontaminated. Learn how to decontaminate your vessel before arriving.

For large non-trailered vessels, owner must inspect vessel hull, outdrives, trim tabs, and motors

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Gray Water

Gray water must be dispensed outside of park waters (which extend 4.5 miles from the outermost land areas of the park) or at a pump station in Windigo or Rock Harbor.


The United States Coast Guard lists known boating hazards on Lake Superior. Access the report here.
A grassy campsite with a picnic table and fire ring
Isle Royale campsite with metal ring.


Fires are allowed only in provided metal rings and grates. Very few campgrounds allow fires. Only dead wood on the ground may be collected for use as fuel for campfires.

Do not bring wood from mainland as it may harbor disease or insect pests.

Take your trash with you; do not burn it.

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Last updated: June 13, 2024

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800 East Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931


906 482-0984

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