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Isle Royale starts reopening April 16

The Lake Superior island national park was mostly closed in 2020 due to the pandemic.

Isle Royale hikers
Hikers on Isle Royale. Isle Royale National Park will begin opening April 16 after being mostly closed for much of 2020 due to the pandemic. (Jimmy Lovrien / News Tribune / 2019 file)

After being closed and mostly inaccessible during COVID-19 precautions in 2020, most campgrounds, trails, docks and anchorages at Isle Royale National Park will be open starting April 16.

Boater overnight camping and anchoring permits will be issued by phone, email and in person from the Houghton Visitor Center.

Backcountry camping permits for seaplane and concession ferry passengers will be issued on the island upon arrival at Rock Harbor and Windigo. Passengers traveling on Ranger III will be able to get their camping permits on board during the trip to the park. Visitors should pay entrance fees in advance at pay.gov .

Passenger service also will be available from Grand Portage on Minnesota’s North Shore this season through the Park Service and, starting May 15, through Isleroyaleboats.com .

The Minong Trail remains closed until June 15 to assess trail and campground conditions and repair damaged areas. The closure includes the Minong Trail from the Hatchet Lake junction to the East Huginnin Trail junction as well as the North Desor Campground. The Little Todd Harbor Campground is closed to backpackers. The campground is open to paddlers accessing it from Lake Superior.

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The National Park Service implemented a mask requirement for employees, visitors, partners and contractors. At Isle Royale National Park, face masks are now required in all park buildings and facilities, onboard transportation services and at the Rock Harbor Lodge. Masks are also required on NPS-managed lands when social distancing can't be maintained, including docks, campgrounds and ferry terminals in Houghton and on the island.

Sharing of camping shelters with other parties is not recommended this summer in order to mitigate the risks associated with COVID-19. Guidance for finding a campsite is available at COVID-19 Backpacking at Isle Royale FAQ and in the Greenstone newspaper. Call 906-482-0984 or email isro_parkinfo@nps.gov . For more information, or go to nps.gov/isro/index.htm .

John Myers reports on the outdoors, natural resources and the environment for the Duluth News Tribune. You can reach him at jmyers@duluthnews.com.
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