Forget the ferry, trips from MN to Isle Royale by seaplane may be coming

Commercial seaplane service from Grand Marais is being considered.
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It may be easier for Minnesotans to get to Lake Superior's Isle Royale National Park.

The only way to get to from Minnesota to the remote islands is by taking a roughly 2-hour ferry or private boat. But now there's a proposal to add commercial seaplane flights from Grand Marais to Isle Royale, which is a popular place for backpackers, campers, anglers and kayakers.

Currently, there are seaplane routes to Isle Royale, but they're all based out of mainland Michigan. Adding service to and from Grand Marais would increase the maximum daily number of visitors by plane from 20 to 40, the proposal notes.

The National Park Service is taking comments on this proposal until March 17 (you can comment here), and if it's approved the flights from Grand Marais to Isle Royale would be done on a trial basis for one or two years.

Flights from Grand Marais to Tobin Harbor would cost $380 round trip, or $260 for a one-way ticket. Round-trip flights from Grand Marais to Windigo would be $290, while a one-way flight would be $200, according to the proposal.

About Isle Royale

Isle Royale is located in the northwestern portion of Lake Superior – technically in Michigan, even though it's actually closer to Minnesota.

The Isle Royale National Park includes one large island and more than 450 smaller islands, totaling 133,788 acres of land and 488,008 acres of water, according to the park's website. There are 165 miles of trails, 36 campgrounds and 337 miles of shoreline that offer tons of things to do and places to see.

It's $7 for a day pass to get into the park, with CNN reporting in 2013 the park sees about 16,500 visitors annually (note: the park isn't open in the winter due to weather conditions).

But the island is a lot more than a place to experience nature. The wilderness preserve has a unique ecosystem – there are only 19 different mammals on the island, compared to about 40 mammal species found on the nearby mainland, the park's website says.

This helped Isle Royale be designated an International Biosphere Reserve in 1980, and has led to many studies, including the longest predator-prey study in the world, which focuses on wolves and their prey – the moose.

Isle Royale has made headlines in recent years for its declining wolf population, and the National Park Service's efforts to save it. You can read more about that here.

You can read more about Isle Royale here.

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