Isle Royale National Park
|Isle Royale National Park|
An aerial view of Isle Royale
|Location||Keweenaw County, Michigan, USA|
|Nearest city||Thunder Bay, Ontario|
|Area||571,790 acres (231,400 ha)|
|Established||April 3, 1940|
|Visitors||15,892 (in 2011)|
|Governing body||National Park Service|
Isle Royale National Park is a U.S. National Park in the state of Michigan. Isle Royale, the largest island in Lake Superior, is over 45 miles (72 km) in length and 9 miles (14 km) wide at its widest point. The park is made up of Isle Royale itself and approximately 400 smaller islands, along with any submerged lands within 4.5 miles (7.24 km) of the surrounding islands (16USC408g). Isle Royale National Park was established on April 3, 1940, was designated as a Wilderness Area in 1976, and was made an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980. It is a relatively small national park at 894 square miles (2,320 km2), with only 209 square miles (540 km2) above water. At the U.S.-Canada border, it will meet the borders of the future Canadian Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area.
Human history 
In prehistoric times, large quantities of copper were mined on Isle Royale and the nearby Keweenaw Peninsula. The region is scarred by ancient mine pits and trenches up to 20 feet deep. Carbon-14 testing of wood remains found in sockets of copper artifacts indicates that they are at least 5700 years old. In Prehistoric Copper Mining in the Lake Superior Region, published in 1961, Drier and Du Temple estimated that over 1.5 billion pounds of copper had been mined from the region. However, David Johnson and Susan Martin contend that their estimate was based on exaggerated and inaccurate assumptions.
In the mid-1840s, a report by Douglass Houghton, Michigan's first state geologist, set off a copper boom in the state, and the first modern copper mines were opened on the island. Evidence of the earlier mining efforts was everywhere, in the form of many stone hammers, some copper artifacts, and places where copper had been partially worked out of the rock but left in place. The ancient pits and trenches led to the discovery of many of the copper deposits that were mined in the 19th century.
The island was once the site of a resort community. The fishing industry has declined considerably, but continues at Edisen Fishery. Because numerous small islands surround Isle Royale, ships were once guided through the area by lighthouses at Passage Island, Rock Harbor, Rock of Ages, and Isle Royale Lighthouse on Menagerie Island. Within the waters of Isle Royale National Park are several shipwrecks. The area’s notoriously harsh weather, dramatic underwater topography, the island’s central location on historic shipping routes, and the cold, fresh water have resulted in largely intact, well preserved wrecks throughout the park. These were documented in the 1980s, with follow up occurring in 2009, by the National Park Service Submerged Resources Center.
Natural history 
Isle Royale National Park is known for its wolf and moose populations which are studied by scientists investigating predator-prey relationships in a closed environment. This is made easier because Isle Royale has been colonized by roughly just one third of the mainland mammal species, due to it being so remote. In addition, the environment is unique in that it is the only known place where wolves and moose coexist without the presence of bears  There are usually around 25 wolves and 1000 moose on the island, but the numbers change greatly year to year. In rare years with very hard winters, animals can travel over the frozen lake from the Canadian mainland. To protect the wolves from canine diseases, dogs are not allowed in any part of the park, including the adjacent waters. In the 2006-2007 winter, 385 moose were counted, as well as 21 wolves, in three packs. In spring 2008, 23 wolves and approximately 650 moose were counted 
The Greenstone Ridge is a high ridge in the center of the island and carries the longest trail in the park, the Greenstone Ridge Trail, which runs 40 miles (60 km) from one end of the island to the other. This is generally done as a 4 or 5 day hike. A boat shuttle can carry hikers back to their starting port. In total there are 165 miles (265 km) of hiking trails. There are also canoe/kayak routes, many involving portages, along coastal bays and inland lakes.
The park has two developed areas: Windigo, at the southwest end of the island (docking site for the ferries from Minnesota), with a campstore, showers, campsites, and a boat dock; and Rock Harbor on the south side of the northeast end (docking site for the ferries from Michigan), with a campstore, showers, restaurant, lodge, campsites, and a boat dock.
Sleeping accommodations at the park are limited to the lodge at Rock Harbor and 36 designated wilderness campgrounds. Some campgrounds are accessible only by private boat; others in the interior are accessible only by trail or by canoe/kayak on the island lakes. The campsites vary in capacity but typically include a few three-sided wood shelters (the fourth wall is screened) with floors and roofs, and several individual sites suitable for pitching a small tent. Some tent sites with space for groups of up to 10 are available, and are used for overflow if all the individual sites are filled. The only amenities at the campgrounds are pit toilets, picnic tables, and fire-rings at specific areas. Campfires are not permitted at most campgrounds; gas or alcohol camp stoves are recommended. Drinking and cooking water must be drawn from local water sources (Lake Superior and inland lakes) and filtered, treated, or boiled to avoid parasites. Hunting is not permitted, but fishing is, and edible berries (blueberries, thimbleberries) may be picked from the trail.
Bedrock on Isle Royale is basalt or sandstone and conglomerates on the 1.1 billion year old Midcontinent Rift. Most of the island is covered with a thin layer of glacial material. A number of small native copper mines were active in the 1800s but mining was never really prosperous. Recent analyses by the USGS of both unmineralized basalt and copper-mineralized rock show that a small amount of naturally-occurring mercury is associated with mineralization.
The park is accessible by floatplane and by ferry during the summer months from Grand Portage, Minnesota, and from Houghton and Copper Harbor in Michigan. Private boats travel to the island from Minnesota, Michigan and Ontario.
Isle Royale is quite popular with day-trippers, with day trip service provided from Grand Portage, MN and Copper Harbor, MI to and from the park. The ferries that make this voyage from Grand Portage, MN do so in an hour and a half, and spend 4 hours on the island, allowing plenty of time for hiking, picnic lunches and taking in a guided hike or program by the park staff. Some ferries may delay—and in some situations cancel—trips during heavy weather, although this occurs very rarely.
The Ranger III is a 165-foot (50 m) ship operated by the National Park Service, said to be the largest piece of equipment in the National Park system. It carries 125 passengers, canoes and kayaks—even small powerboats—and operates out of Houghton, Michigan. This is a six-hour voyage from the park, and the ship overnights at the island before returning the next day, making two round trips each week, June to mid-September. The Isle Royale Queen out of Copper Harbor, Michigan, arrives at the park in 3-3 1/2 hours and the Sea Hunter, out of Grand Portage, Minnesota, arrives in just 1 1/2 hours and operate round-trips and offer day trips through much of the season, less frequently in early summer and autumn. The Voyageur II, also out of Grand Portage, crosses up to three times a week, overnighting at Rock Harbor and providing transportation between popular lakeside campgrounds. The Voyageur II and boat taxi services ferry hikers to points along the island, allowing a one-way hike back to Rock Harbor or Windigo.
For the 2008 season, the Ranger III carried visitors to/from Windigo on several occasions. This proved to be a failure and was discontinued after 4 trips due to lack of interest and extremely long crossing times. Visitors may take the Voyageur II and land at Rock Harbor and depart from Windigo several days later or vice versa. Hikers will frequently ride the Voyageur II in one direction to do a cross-island hike and be picked up at the other end when they finish.
Because of the difficulty of travel and the hazards of wilderness survival during the winter months, Isle Royale is the only major National Park Service park to close entirely for the season. Because of the relative difficulty of reaching the park and its seasonal closing, fewer than 20,000 people a year visit Isle Royale - fewer than the number of people who visit the most popular national parks in a single day.
List of islands 
- "Listing of acreage as of December 31, 2011". Land Resource Division, National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "NPS Annual Recreation Visits Report". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-03-07.
- "Isle Royale National Park". National Park Service. Retrieved October 13, 2005.
- "Isle Royale National Park - Nature & Science (U.S. National Park Service)". National Park Service. Retrieved August 20, 2009.
- Johnson, David (9 November 2009). "North America's First Metal Miners & Metal Artisans". The Old Copper Complex. Retrieved 17 November 2009.
- Susan R. Martin (1995). "The State of Our Knowledge About Ancient Copper Mining in Michigan". The Michigan Archaeologist 41 (2-3): 119–138.
- Ann G. Harris (2004). Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co. p. 308. ISBN 0-7872-9970-7. Unknown parameter
|book=ignored (help); Missing or empty
- "A chronology of some events in the history of Isle Royale". The Wolfs and Moose of Isle Royale. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
- "Isle Royale: Mammals". National Park Service. Retrieved 2011-08-22.
- Lydersen, Kari. "Warming Alters Predator-Prey Balance." Washington Post, 21 July 2008
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Isle Royale National Park|
|Wikivoyage has travel information related to: Isle Royale National Park|