Isle Royale National Park

Sightseeing at Isle Royale National Park

©2006 National Park Services Moose are the primary prey of the island's gray wolves, which keep the moose population in check by culling young, old, or debilitated members of the herd.

Visitors to Isle Royale National Park can look forward to kayaking among the fjordlike coves, picking raspberries and blueberries, hiking on more than 160 miles of trails, or listening to the distant howls of northern gray wolves on moon-filled autumn nights.

Most everyone agrees that autumn is the best time to visit the park, with the sugar maples and yellow birch aflame in color, the wild berries thick underfoot, and the moose appearing in the ridges to the valleys.

Isle Royale National Park Photo Opportunities

The wildlife steals the show on Isle Royale. In this protected environment, you might just be lucky enough to have a moose or a wolf posing for your photograph.

  • Isle Royale wildlife: The wolves are elusive, so you're much more likely to see moose, eagles, and osprey on Isle Royale.
  • Greenstone Ridge: This ridge forms the backbone of Isle Royale. Geologists think it could be a portion of the largest lava flow on earth.
  • Rock Harbor: Located on the northeastern shore of Isle Royale, Rock Harbor's hiking trails give visitors access to scenic overlooks and secluded coves.
©2006 National Park ServicesBoaters can explore some 200 small islands within park boundaries. These are treacherous waters, however. Ten major shipwrecks, some dating to the late 1800s, may be explored by experienced scuba divers.

Island Wolves Perhaps drawn by a large and growing moose herd, a few wolves crossed ice-covered Lake Superior to Isle Royale in 1949. For two decades the wolves fed on old, young, or weak moose. Both the moose herd and the wolf pack benefited from the relationship. The wolves prevented the moose from overpopulating the island and eating themselves out of house and home. The wolf pack itself leveled out at about 50 members, which was appropriate for the size of the moose herd.

By about 1980 the symbiosis was no longer working. There were fewer moose upon which the wolves could prey, and the wolf population was falling. By 1989 the moose population had again increased, but there were only 11 wolves left. Since that time, the wolves have made something of a comeback and currently number about 30.

Isle Royale has long been a destination for visitors, from early Native Americans seeking copper to modern-day hikers and kayakers. On the next page, learn about the formation and early habitation of Isle Royale.