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From: Rock Harbor, Isle Royale
Price:$ 1,595
Duration: 8 Days, 7 Nights
August 18 - 25, 2019

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8 Days, 7 Nights
Sea Kayaking
Skill Rating:
Rock Harbor, Isle Royale
$ 1,595
Included: Guides, all group camping and sea kayaking equipment, all meals on the island camping fees and permits on the island.
Not Included: Transportation to and from Rock Harbor, MI including ferry, personal clothing and accessories, sleeping bag and pad.

Located 22 miles offshore in the world’s largest lake, Isle Royale is the most realistic sea-like destination for paddlers in the Midwest. The waters can be calm or challenging, offering both adventure and wild beauty as we paddle the southern shore and nearby Amygdaloid Island. From protected coves to exposure points, abandoned fishing villages to restored lighthouses, Isle Royale is a fantastic sea kayaking escape. You will also have plenty of time to relax and explore some of the many hiking trails found within the least-visited national park in the world.


Day 1: We'll meet in Grand Portage, MN to spend the night getting acquainted over dinner and spend the night at a local campground. We rise early the next morning to catch the ferry out to Isle Royale.

Day 2 -6: Upon arrival in Rock Harbor we will unload our kayaks and spend some time reviewing the basics of sea kayaking and refreshing our bracing and rescue skills. Some of the seas we encounter this week will be challenging and exciting, with swells that range up to six feet. From there, we will head out paddling our way around the island, exploring the many secluded bays and beaches. Over 200 smaller islands surround the main reach, from rocky outcrops hardly big enough for a gull's perch to the four mile long Amygdaloid Island. Like chips of a fallen star or shards of the moon, these tiny outcrops are out of reach for hikers and remain as the domain of paddlers. If time and conditions permit, we will make the crossing around the tip of the island and explore the southern region. Highlights here include the Edisen Fishery, Cemetery Island, and Lake Superior Maritime Museum found at the historic Rock Harbor Lighthouse.

Day 7: We pack up our gear and prepare to leave this beautiful island, returning to Grand Portage by ferry, to spend one last night at a local campground (we try to camp near some hot showers this night!), celebrating and enjoying the week's memories.

Day 8: Breaking camp a final time, we make our farewells and head home. Camping is primitive but comfortable at the five national park campgrounds. We ask that you participate in all camp activities, including cooking, washing dishes and setting up and breaking camp, in order to hone your wilderness camping skills and have the finest and most complete outdoor experience possible. **This itinerary is subject to change.

Clothing & Equipment:

Clothes should be packed in small dry bags or stuff sacks lined with small garbage bags. Keep in mind the dry bags need to fit in the hatches of the kayak.
This is all you will need -- anything else is unnecessary baggage and will only be extra weight to carry.


  • Rain gear (jacket and pants) (Paddling jacket works well as top)
  • 2 t-shirts (non-cotton, quick drying are the best)
  • 1 pack towel
  • 1 shirt, long sleeved quick drying
  • 2 shorts (quick drying)
  • Sun/rain hat
  • 1 pair fast drying long pants - no blue jeans
  •  Windbreaker jacket
  •  Insulating jacket (fleece)
  • 2 pairs shoes/sandals - Tevas or other sport sandals, booties, or light weight sneakers
  • 2 pair socks- wool can be great
  •  Bathing suit
  • Underwear including synthetic long underwear, tops and bottoms
  • Wetsuit or drysuit


  • Toiletry kit (toilet paper, toothbrush, biodegradable soap and shampoo, sunscreen, face cream, nail clippers, personal medication etc.)
  • Bug repellent
  • Sleeping bag (compact, 3-season) and pad
  • Flashlight, batteries & extra bulb- headlamps are preferred
  • Large plastic cup with handle (commuter mug)  
  • Pocket knife
  • Waterbottle
  • Sunglasses
  • Chums/Croakies to keep glasses on your head are imperative
  • Energy bars/reserve food

Optional Equipment

  • Fishing rod (collapsible, with container and license) and tackle
  • Camera, film, waterproof container
  • Reading matter and maps (waterproof case)
  • Entertainment (harmonica, cards, games)
  • Paddling jacket
  • Compass
  • Ziploc storage bags
  • Crazy Creek chair
  • Bandanas
  • Clean change of clothing for the trip home

What is special about this trip?
Isle Royale is one of the Midwest’s best kept secrets. As the largest island in Lake Superior, Isle Royale offers wonderful opportunities for all who make the crossing to visit her shores. For the sea kayaker, the waters surrounding IR range from quiet and protected in her bays, to exposed and rough. The wildlife often comes right to your campsite as Moose and Fox peak their noses from behind trees to check out our camp. Late at night, we may be lucky enough to hear the beautiful howl of a Wolf, or the yelps of nearby Coyotes. All in all, Isle Royale offers a wilderness experience in its truest sense; tranquil forests, clear waters, bays that call you in to explore their depths and the stillness of the wilderness.

How do I get there?
sle Royale is, at its closest point, 14 miles off Minnesota’s shoreline in the heart of Lake Superior. Upon Registering for the trip you will receive a map and exact directions to our meeting location. Participants wishing to carpool, or get a ride up from the Duluth airport, should contact The Northwest Passage office.

How and where will you meet me?
We typically meet you at the ferry launch in Grand Portage, MN. Your guides will contact you to confirm the meeting location.

How long will it take me to get there?
It takes about 9 hours to arrive at Grand Portage, MN from Chicagoland.

Where should I stay overnight around there?
If you plan to arrive early or stay late, give the office a call for a recommendation on a great place to stay.

What money should I take?
You will not need money on the trip, just traveling money.

Do they take plastic there? Are there cash stations?"
There are cash stations on the mainland, but it can be hard to find one on the island.

What's the weather like?
The weather on Isle Royale in mid-September can range from beautiful and sunny to rainy and cool. Temperatures during the day can range from 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit, and in the evenings the lows can reach into the 30’s.

What are the accommodations like?
This trip is a camping trip. The Northwest Passage will provide two-person tents for participants to share and all the necessary group camping equipment. Those wishing to have an individual tent should contact us regarding the availability of a single supplement. Often the campsites on Isle Royale will have outhouses and lean-to’s which can be used for cooking and/or sleeping purposes. When traveling in the backcountry, NWP practices Leave No Trace camping techniques. This means that we will pack out all of our garbage, and minimize our impact on the land as much as possible. Your help in this endeavor is greatly appreciated!

What do I need to bring?

We will send you a gear list upon registration.

Can I drink the water?
The drinking water on Isle Royale comes from either Lake Superior or the inland lakes and rivers. While it is very clean and tasty we will be treating the water before we drink it. For our water purification we will be carrying both filtering pumps and iodine tablets.

What's the food like?
We plan for delicious food on the Isle Royale trip – and plenty of it. Dinners will range from delicious spaghetti to fajitas with desserts every night. While some of our food will be freeze-dried, the majority will be fresh food cooked into delicious meals every night. Lunches will include an assortment of trail mixes and snacks, sandwiches and plenty of beverages. Breakfasts will provide a good start to your day with an assortment of hot dishes, oatmeals, breakfast bars and hot drinks. Any dietary restrictions should be made known well in advance of the trip.

What time zone will I be in?
Isle Royale is on Eastern Standard Time.

How can people reach me in an emergency? Can I call home?
Once on Isle Royale it will be very difficult to access a phone, therefore we recommend that you have all of your personal matters in order before the trip departure. We will be asking you to provide us with an emergency contact whom we can contact on your behalf if necessary.

How much time do we spend traveling each day? How many miles? Do I have free time?
Typically we kayak between 6 and 20 miles a day. Conditions dictate how much paddling we can do in a given day, but average daily kayaking is around 9 miles.

What kind of equipment do you use?
We used ruddered plastic kayaks. Feel free to bring your own boat too if you like.

How many people are on this trip? How many guides? Who are the guides / what are their qualifications?
We typically bring between 3 and 10 people on this trip. The guides are ACA and/or BCU certified kayak instructors and are also certified in Wilderness First Aid.

How can I prepare physically for the trip? How much prior experience is needed?
Isle Royale can churn up some challenging conditions, so we recommend this trip to intermediate sea kayakers. Taking our Sea Kayaking Fundamentals I and II classes with us would prepare you for this trip.