Isle Royale Kayaking Tours

Photo: Ryan Holt

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Isle Royale Kayaking Tours

Copper Harbor is one of two ports in Michigan providing passenger ferry service to Isle Royale National Park, which is one of just five National Park Service sites in Michigan! Isle Royale is the largest island in the largest freshwater lake in the world, and is the least visited of all the National Parks — it’s said that more people visit Yellowstone in a day than Isle Royale in an entire season.

Isle Royale and the Keweenaw Peninsula are both closely related. They are a mirror image to each other, sharing the same Michigan county, the same Great Lake and in fact, are part of the same bedrock! Composed of some of the oldest exposed rock in the world, the unique geologic compounds, mineral deposits, parallel spiny ridgelines and botany are virtually identical. Eagles, loon, and water fowl inhabit both, however, Isle Royale is also home to wolves, moose, and otters. What’s more both showcase premier Midwestern wilderness areas ideal for paddling adventures.

An Isle Royale kayaking trip offers a true wilderness experience unlike any other place in the world! Hiking and boating are the only means of travel, as no vehicles are allowed on Isle Royale. The island has over 150 miles of shoreline and numerous barrier islands and fjord like bays that can best be explored in a sea kayak. What’s more? Our guide, Rudy Gemignani, has 27 YEARS behind his belt in exploring the isle and has a passion to share it with you! 

The three-hour, 56-mile journey on board the Isle Royale Queen IV across the world’s largest freshwater lake, is the start to your adventure. Gain a first-hand perspective on just how large the BIG lake is and perhaps have a close encounter with a behemoth 1000 freighter while in route.

We always try to develop an itinerary that best meets the ambitions, physical abilities and paddling experience of every group, while the trip duration and current marine forecast have an impact on where we will visit. In general, we tend to highlight both the southeast and northeast areas of the Island, as its finger-bays and barrier islands host an area of truly world-class sea kayaking opportunities. It may be possible to schedule a point-to-point tour to other areas of the Island utilizing the water taxi, although additional fees would apply.


Related Adventure Journal posts: “Swapping the Backpack for Kayak “ & “Isle Royale – Open Water Dreaming

“5-Star” Trip Advisor Reviews of Isle Royale Tours: Click Here!


Participants need only to provide a compact sleeping bag, pad, their personal items and a sense for adventure (view Suggested Packing List)!

*NOTE: A 10% discount is offered for participants using their own sea kayaks and full outfitting equipment that meet our safety requirements.

Reservations are required at least 3 weeks in advance of the scheduled tour to guarantee availability (although we will try to accommodate requests made in less than this time if space still exists on a tour that already has a guide confirmed).  Tours can be confirmed with a 50% deposit.

Cancellation Policy: 50% deposit is non-refundable if a cancellation is made less than 2 weeks prior to the scheduled departure. Otherwise, deposits will be refunded, minus a 15% cancellation fee.


The following schedule is a tentative guide. It may be possible to schedule a tour for other dates and duration based upon guide availability and space on ferry boat.

2017 Isle Royale Schedule

June 16 – 19 4 day/ 3 night * Summer Solstice Special $809/person
June 23 – 26 4 day / 3 night *June Special $859/person
June 30 – July 4 5 day / 4 night $1059/person
July 17 – 20  (3 SPOTS REMAIN) 4 day/ 3 night $909/person
July 23 – 26  (FULL) 4 day / 3 night $909/person
August 1 – 6 6 day / 5 night  $1189/person
August 10 – 13 (FULL) 4 day/ 3 night $909/person
August 19 – 23  (3 SPOTS REMAIN) 5 day/4 night $1059/person
September 8 – 11  (1 SPOTS REMAIN) 4 day/ 3 night *September Special $859/person

Isle Royale Kayaking Tours, Isle Royale National Park Ferry

General Trip Safety Information

The Keweenaw Adventure Company operates many of its sea kayak tours in very remote, uninhabited areas. Although our overnight tour guides are certified Wilderness First Responders, emergency and medical response can be distant and time-consuming at best. Participants need to be aware that weather conditions on Lake Superior can sometimes be extreme with greatly varying temperature, wind and wave conditions. We will not set out if there are poor conditions on the Lake or if there is an unfavorable marine forecast, but conditions are sometimes subject to change throughout the course of the day. Participants need to be aware for the possibility of cold water immersion and for paddling in choppy or rough water.

Although we do not require previous paddling experience for our multi-day tours (our guides will provide instruction), participants need to be aware that our multi-day sea kayak tours generally paddle between 5 to 15 miles per day. Participants must have the physical ability to complete these routes as evacuations for non-medical emergencies can be nearly impossible.

Safety is always our number one concern and we do everything possible to manage the risks for our clients! Your guides have gone through sea kayak instructor and trip leader training with the American Canoe Association (ACA) on Lake Superior.  All of our guides are certified as either Wilderness First Responders (WFR) or in Wilderness First Aid (WFA).  Our guides carry two-way VHF marine radios, cell phones (though coverage is sporadic) and a GPS tracking device capable of sending messages and to call for advanced help in an emergency.

Isle Royale is the perfect paddling location for all skill levels. Our guide had expert skills and knowledge. I felt I was safe at all times. Every campsite had a magnificent view. There’s nothing better than watching the sun set with the boreal forest in the foreground. This experience was everything I was hoping for.


Nan B.