Grand Island National Recreation Area


At Grand Island, where sandy beaches and sheer cliffs rim the island and cattail/cedar swamps, hemlock stands, and northern hardwood forest cover the gently rolling terrain of the island's interior. Bald eagles, black bear, and the common loon are some of the animals that live on Grand Island.

In the past, the Ojibwa People made Grand Island their home. In the early 1800's, the first white settler, Abraham H. Williams, homesteaded there. Since that time, maple syrup production and timber harvesting have occurred. Careful observers will see traces of these activities.

The unpredictable weather of Lake Superior adds to the wild character of the island. Visitors should monitor the weather, and be prepared to spend at least one extra night on the island if foul weather develops.

Grand Island Is a delightful spot for hiking, biking, picnicking, nature study. But, remember that once the boat drops you off, it will not pick you up until its next scheduled trip. You're on your own.

Getting Around On The Island

Roads on the island are currently unmaintained and in hazardous condition due to washouts, fallen trees, etc. During the planning stages, everyone must share at least part of the same road/trail system. All visitors must be extremely careful when traveling around the island. You may encounter other people driving high-clearance cars, trucks, ATVs or riding mountain bikes or walking.

Motor vehicle and ATV operators must obtain a permit from the Munising District Office before using your vehicle on the island. All cars and trucks must be street legal (i.e. they must have a current license plate). Motor vehicles are not allowed on some roads for safety reasons. You cannot leave a vehicle on the island overnight unattended. Sand beaches are off limits to all wheeled vehicles, but walk-in access is available. Because of the hazardous condition of the roads, motor vehicle use is not recommended.


Campsites have been designated on Murray's Bay and Trout Bay beaches in order to protect sensitive environments. No camping is allowed on North Beach. Please do not camp near any buildings.

Other than those restrictions, you may camp anywhere else on the island. Please locate your site at least 50 feet from a creek or lake. You may remain at a site for up to 14 days, however it is recommended that you move campsites frequently. Other low impact practices include the use of a portable stove, burying wastewater, and packing all trash out. If a campfire is necessary, please keep it small. No beach fires.

Many campers, who have not hung their food high enough in the trees, have had their food stolen and eaten by black bears. Please do not add to this problem. Bears that get used to people and like people, food will need to be moved off the island or destroyed. Please, hang all food high up in the trees and away from any benches or tree trunks when you are not eating. No food in your tent at any time.

Drinking water is not yet available. Bring water with you or filter surface water. Keep soaps and detergents out of lakes and streams. Wash dishes and clothes in a pot and dispose of the waste water in a hole at least 100 feet from the nearest water supply. Bathe in the same manner.

Public toilets are located at Williams Landing and in the Trout and Murray Bay Campsites. In other areas of the island dig a small 6 inch deep hole, at least 100 feet from nearest water source, and cover after use.

Fishing, Hunting & Trapping

Echo Lake offers bass, pike, and pan fish. Murray Bay has perch, pike, walleye, and rock bass. In Trout Bay and all around the island, lake trout and coho salmon can be caught by trolling. Game species include deer, bear, rabbit, grouse, and ducks. Fur bearing animals include beaver, otter, and mink. A Michigan fishing, hunting and/or trapping license is required. Call the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (517-373-1220) for license information.

Getting To The Island

Pictured Rocks Cruises, Inc. operates the passenger ferry to and from Grand Island. The boats will leave from the city dock in Munising and arrive at Williams Landing on Grand island.

Passenger Ferry Schedule (September & October):

Leave Munising at: 8:30 a.m. 8 5:00 p.m.Leave Grand Island at: 9:00 a.m. & 5:30 p.m.

Round trip fares are: $7.00 for adults, $3.00 for children under 12, and children under 5 or leashed dogs ride free. You may bring along a bicycle for an additional $3.00. For more information about the ferry or to make a reservation, call 906-387-2379.

Traveling to and from the island in your own boat can be hazardous. Obtain a reliable weather forecast and current nautical charts. Leave a trip itinerary with someone onshore before you leave. There are no public docks on the island. You may load/unload at Williams Landing but you must vacate the landing when the tug or passenger ferry is about to arrive. Boats can be moored overnight in Murray and Trout Bays.


Summer water temperature of Lake Superior remains steady at 46-48 degrees, even in shallow bays. Prolonged exposure to these temperatures can lead to hypothermia. Conditions on Lake Superior change very rapidly and boaters are advised to monitor channel 16 on a ship to shore radio or listen to a NOM weather radio. All visitors should be prepared to spend at least one extra day on the island and leave a travel plan with someone on shore.

Avoid climbing on or standing along the sandstone cliffs. The stone is very fragile and may not support your weight.

Be careful while enjoying your trip, the mosquitoes and black flies can be very bad from mid-May to mid-July. Be sure to bring plenty of insect repellent and even a head net during those months. Feel free to call our Visitor Center (906 387-3700) for the latest bug count.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 18 Apr 2012
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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