The Isle Royale 40
An island adventure smack in the middle of Lake Superior
I thought I had visited America's coolest National Parks. As an eighth grader from Wisconsin, I had stood atop Longs Peak ...
Photo by Scott Drum
I thought I had visited America's coolest National Parks. As an eighth grader from Wisconsin, I had stood atop Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park after a rugged, high-altitude romp. Then, in my early 20s, Mount Rainier National Park and the 14,411-foot glaciated summit of Rainier seemed like the moon. Over a decade later, moving up the scale of sheer enormity and remoteness, I spent three weeks ascending the flanks of Denali in Denali National Park. I never saw the summit, but flew off the Lower Kahiltna Glacier with a profound sense of awe. How could any other National Park compare?
Enter Isle Royale National Park (IRNP), the least visited park of them all. Spanning 209 square miles (note: most of IRNP's 894 total square miles is designated below water) and featuring over 165 miles of singletack trails, this remote island in the northwestern section of Lake Superior, Michigan, is an acclaimed, world-designated biosphere where predators and prey—wolves and moose—abound.
"It's a special place," said my twin brother, Greg Drum, a former IRNP Law Enforcement Park Ranger. "The island's wildlife is what found itself scampering across an ice bridge or swimming Lake Superior decades ago."