How to Pack for a Successful Trip to Isle Royale National Park

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I’m Eddie, a hardcore traveler who loves hiking and camping. My most favorite places to visit are the areas that are so remote that you can completely get lost there. I love being in such places one-to-one with nature and appreciate the beautiful planet we have. I have traveled to many secluded locations and famous areas, and one of the parks that stand out is Isle Royale. It is located on an island, far away from city noise, so I fell in love with this place.

The park is right in the middle of Lake Superior that only adds to the allure of it and provides you with a lot of things to do such as fishing, swimming, or exploring the areas around the lake. Charges are quite affordable since you only need to pay $7 per day or purchase the Annual National Park Pass for $80. You can also get the Season pass that covers up to four people, including the pass holder, for the period from 16th April to 31st October when the park is open. It will cost you $60, and you need to make a reservation if coming in a group.

Packing for a trip to Isle Royale National Park requires plenty of planning because if you forget something important, it will be hard to get it on the island. This is why it is not the kind of place to visit impromptu. However, it is friendly to all lovers of hiking, trekking, and backpacking. If you want to visit Isle Royal National Park, here are the essentials I recommend to include in your Isle Royale packing list.

What to Pack for Isle Royale National Park in the Spring or Summer?

Isle Royale National Park in the Summer

In the spring and summer, it is the best time to visit the park. It gets warm, so you can fully explore the place without restrictions. Many of the items that you need to pack are common for both hiking and trekking, but make sure to double-check if you have included them in your list.


Prior planning is essential, which is why I advise you to start packing as soon as you have decided on your trip. So, whenever you think of something that you may need, you can add it to the packing list. You need different items for different seasons, which is why I’ve prepared two lists for the warm and cold seasons. So, here is what to wear to Isle Royale National Park in the spring or summer:

  • Light clothes, shorts, tights, socks. In the spring and summer, it’s quite warm so you should wear breathable clothes for hiking or trekking. Such clothes are a must-have, especially in the summer when it can get sweltering during the day. Make sure to carry enough socks in air-tight bags to keep them fresh.
  • A jacket and a raincoat. It rains quite often during spring. Hence, a raincoat is essential for your trekking or hiking trip. Always take a coat with you because it can get unexpectedly chilly on some evenings.
  • Hiking shoes or boots. The terrain at the park is not very rugged, so you do not need serious Isle Royale hiking gear unless you prefer it. Any shoes recommended for hiking are okay, but make sure that they are comfortable since you will be walking for quite several hours. Without proper footwear, your feet will get tired shortly.

Hiking Essentials

Though you can visit the park for one-day hiking only, trekking is one of the best things to do at Isle Royale since the place is so extensive and there is so much to discover. Though you can take a day to hike, the layover time can be up to four hours, meaning that by the time you arrive, you won’t see much, so you will probably have to get back. Here are the necessities for hiking:

  • Food and water. You should carry enough packed food and snacks since the stores at Rock Harbor and Windigo, where you arrive, are quite limited. You can bring a small cooler with frozen foods and canned ones. There is water at the basecamp on the island, so make sure you bottle enough water. Also, get a good water filter since any water within the island is considered unsafe to drink.
  • Maps, GPS, watch, and binoculars. Maps are available at the Windigo and Rock Harbor stops but a GPS would work better. To ensure you don’t lose track of time and not make it back to your starting point too early, time your hiking. You can spot some wildlife on the island, so a good pair of binoculars can come in handy.
  • An insect repellent and a first aid kit. May to August is one of the most favorable periods to visit the island, but that is also the time when bugs are in plenty. Carry an insect repellent or wear protective clothes unless you want bite marks all over your body.

Trekking Needs

If you want to get the full experience of visiting Isle Royale, then you need to stay for more than a day. You can even do some fishing and scuba diving if you like such activities. There is so much to do on the island, so I advise planning for the cross-island trekking for at least four days. The following are some items for Isle Royale backpacking list for a multi-day trip:

  • A tent, a sleeping bag, and extra blankets. A tent and a sleeping bag are essential unless you want to sleep on the ground. It may get a bit chilly on the island due to the lake nearby, so I recommend packing extra blankets.
  • Waterproof matches, pots, and a portable stove. You can cook a meal by the shores of the beautiful lake. I recommend carrying waterproof matches for the fire and a cooker if you don’t want to cook on the fireplace.
  • Flashlights and lamps. The ground is not flat, so you need to carry an outdoor lamp, especially if you are trekking in a group. Flashlights are always helpful as you never know when you will need one.
  • A power bank. If you carry electronics, then you will need a power bank or two to charge your devices.
  • Toiletries. Make sure to bring shampoo, soap, and sanitizer for a comfortable trip.

What to Pack for Isle Royale National Park in the Autumn?

Isle Royale National Park in the Autumn

The Isle Royale National Park is the only park that closes for the winter period due to the harsh weather conditions. It works till the end of October and then opens only in mid-April. Fewer people are visiting the island during autumn, which is why you need to prepare an even more inclusive packing list for Isle Royale National Park. Autumn is still a great time for trekking, but you need to add a few items to the previous list to make your trip comfortable:

    • Warm clothes, jackets, and blankets. The temperatures start to drop in the fall, so it will be much cooler. With the lake on the island, it is bound to get quite cold. Therefore, carry enough warm clothes and blankets for the nighttime.
    • Trekking boots. During this season, hiking becomes a bit more difficult, so you need the best footwear for it. Some functional boots are essential for hiking and trekking in the autumn. Also, make sure to wear waterproof footwear.
  • Camera/Phone. This place has some of the most beautiful sights you will ever see, which is why I recommend having something to capture all of that. A camera is great, but if you have a good camera on your phone, it will come in handy. If you love fall colors, then you will have quite a treat at the park, since the colors come at their best in the autumn, especially in late September.
  • An extended first aid kit. Accidents are common at the park, whether it is a sprain from the trekking or cuts. Since you can hike deep in the woods far from campgrounds, you need to be well-prepared and have some basic medicine and antiseptics in your first aid kit.
  • A radio and an emergency whistle. There is no cell service at the park, including Rock Harbor and Windigo stations. This is why a radio is a must for what to bring to the Isle Royale National Park, especially if you come in a large group. An emergency whistle is a safety must-have since it can get pretty foggy at night and early in the morning.

My Thoughts on Hiking and Trekking in Isle Royale

The Isle Royale National Park is a hidden gem that any lover of nature and adventures should visit. For the full experience, make your trip last a few days, which will give you time to explore the beautiful lake and all the hiking trails.

By preparing a detailed list of what to pack for the Isle Royale National Park in the season you are coming, you can protect yourself from unexpected occasions and enjoy your trip. Also, make sure to contact the park administration and book your reservation if you are traveling in a group.

Have you ever been to Isle Royale National Park? What did you pack for the trip? Do you feel that there was something important you left behind that no one should ignore? Please let me know in the comments below.

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