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Summer escape: Isle Royale, Michigan

David Hanson
Cottage Living

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Rock Harbor Lodge offers scenic views of Lake Superior.

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Michigan
Tourism and Leisure

(Cottage Livingexternal link) -- By national park standards, Isle Royale's tourist tally of 23,000 is small. In June, July or August, you'll likely find manageable "crowds," as well as great weather. North of Michigan's Upper Peninsula lies this lesser-known getaway -- a favorite of backpackers, kayakers and world-weary jet-setters who seek unspoiled splendor.

That light human touch shows in Isle Royale's roadless landscape. About 50 miles from end to end and laced with more than 165 miles of trails, the island offers boggy and rocky terrain, plus breathtaking lake views (and fabled resident wolf packs and moose). Isle Royale's wild solitude isn't its only appeal. While Windigo on the west end lures backpackers bent on roughing it, Rock Harbor on the east offers the beauty of the great outdoors -- and a warm bed at night.

Where to sleep

Rent a cottage

Rock Harbor Lodge Cottages, (906) 337-4993 or rockharborlodge.comexternal link. Choose a housekeeping cottage at the Rock Harbor Lodge, along with a European meal plan, which lets you pay for meals separately at the dining room or the small café. Plus, you get half-day canoe use.

So you're not into roughing it

Naniboujou Lodge, (218) 387-2688 or naniboujou.comexternal link. On the mainland, the Naniboujou Lodge just north of Grand Marais, Minnesota, and about a 40-mile drive to the ferry in Grand Portage, offers elegantly rustic rooms and a decidedly high-end dining experience in its Great Hall. Decorated in the designs of the Cree Indians, the Great Hall has been restored to its original splendor and boasts a 200-ton native rock fireplace.

You love camping

Windigo campground and other Isle Royale campsites, nps.gov/isroexternal link. This ferry landing is also a good spot for camping with facilities. Or you can pitch your tent at a designated campsite along a trail -- just make sure you check out the regulations.

Where to eat

It's fairly simple on the island: Bring your own or enjoy your meals from the Rock Harbor Lodge -- the only other option.

Breakfast

Fill up in the Rock Harbor Lodge dining room, where you'll find standard breakfast fare for appetites large or small.

Our picnic pick

Heading out for a stroll? Fill out a sack lunch request (you'll find the form in your room at the Rock Harbor Lodge) the night before, and enjoy it on the trail. The Lodge will substitute it for a meal if you're staying under the American plan.

Après hike

Head to the dining room for a world-class dinner, or simply grab a quick bite at the café before watching the sun set over the harbor.

More summer escapes:

Acadia National Park, Maine

Glacier National Park, Montana

Badlands and Black Hills, South Dakota

Olympic National Park, Washington


Copyright 2004-2006 Cottage Living magazine. All rights reserved.
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