The expected uptick in visitors to national parks following Ken Burns' breath-taking PBS series probably won't change those percentages.
Isle Royale, the largest of the 400-island archipelago at the upper end of Lake Superior, is about as isolated as you can get in the lower 48.
- It's part of Michigan but closer to Minnesota and Canada than the Upper Peninsula.
- The only way to reach it is by boat or sea plane.
- And the only time you can do that is between mid April and the end of October. Transportation is very limited until mid-May through Labor Day; high season is July 15-August 15.
There are other potential drawbacks.
- No TV
- No cell phone service
- No newspapers
- No roads or cars: it's your feet or a boat.
There are moose, wolves, fox, squirrels, loons, lots of birds, even more mosquitoes and 32 different kinds of orchids (most you'll need very sharp eyes to spot).
So what do you do during the 16-17 hours of daylight?
Tip: Elevation changes are relatively small but you don't find a lot of dirt underfoot; it's mostly rocks and roots. On your first foray onto a trail make finding a walking stick your immediate priority. Given upper Michigan's harsh winters, good, windfall candidates should be easy to find.
I went over via the Isle Royale Line from Copper Harbor, a pleasant, three-hour trip. Boats also connect the park from Houghton, Michigan and Grand Portage, Minnesota.
Tip: Rooms on the lower level have a continuous deck you can sit on and watch the sun set and, if you stay up late, the moon rise. If you like sipping an adult beverage while you do this, bring it with you. Beer and wine are available only by the glass in the dining room.
Tip: It isn't that steep but the paths are very rocky and rooty. You'll need a walking stick and sturdy shoes. Worth it though. Not worth it is the really steep climb from the water to the 1881 lighthouse on Passage Island.
As a travel on the leveler, this isn't the kind of park I was likely to seek out but when the opportunity arose I went and am glad I did. In writing this I feel again that wonderful sense of inner peace and relaxation wilderness engenders.