Today, Michigan landscape photographer Joshua Nowicki shares some photos from a recent trip to Isle Royale. We’re sure his experience will inspire you to add the Upper Peninsula to your Pure Michigan getaway bucket list!
Several weeks ago, I was invited to photograph a family wilderness program for the Isle Royale Institute (a partnership between Michigan Technological University and Isle Royale National Park). It was my first trip to the island, and I was incredibly excited. I was delighted to discover that my expectations for the trip were far exceeded.
Sitting on the bow of the Isle Royale Queen IV and watching Copper Harbor, Michigan disappear into the distance as my cell phone signal faded filled me with joy. As we moved further out into cool air of Lake Superior, a beautiful white all-encompassing fog surrounded the boat adding to the sense of adventure. Approaching the island, even before I could see the land, there was a warmth in the breeze and a soft sweetness to the air. As the island appeared out of the fog, the sky began to clear, and the air warmed.
After disembarking from the ship, we received a short humorous and very informative introduction to the island from park ranger, Lucas Westcott. Upon setting foot on land, I was struck by the beauty and wealth of wild flowers; a gorgeous layer of orange, yellow, purple and white blanketed sections of the landscape.
On my first evening, I went for a walk along the Rock Harbor Trail and saw numerous loons, squirrels, and rabbits. Additionally, upon turning a corner in the trail, I found myself standing within 30 yards of a cow moose and calf. At night, I enjoyed listening to the sounds of nature and I could even occasionally hear moose walking through the woods near my tent. I saw more moose on Isle Royale than I have in all of the trips that I have taken to the Upper Peninsula.
The Isle Royale Wolf-Moose Study is followed around the world, and I delighted in a trip to Bangsund Cabin to meet Rolf and Candy Peterson. Standing in the Museum of Pathology and listening to Rolf discuss the project was a surreal experience I will always treasure.
A short walk from Bangsund Cabin, leads to the Rock Harbor Lighthouse which is open to the public as a museum. The tower of the lighthouse also provides visitors with a magnificent view of Rock Harbor and Lake Superior.
The number of amazing experiences I had are too numerous to write about in one blog post. Some of the additional highlights of my trip were:
Hiking along the Greenstone Ridge and enjoying the fantastic view of the island and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park in Canada from the steps of Mount Ojibway Tower.
Marveling at the view of the night sky. I have never seen the Milky Way so clearly and was even fortunate enough to see both the Milky Way and Northern Lights one evening.
Waking early to watch the sunrise over the forest.
Walking through sections of white spruce and balsam forest covered with Old Man’s Beard Lichen.
Having the rare opportunity to watch a group of pelicans fly over the island, finding greenstones along the beach near Rock Harbor Lighthouse (all stones were left at the beach as per park guidelines), sitting and watching hummingbird moths busily flying from flower to flower, watching curious squirrels explore our camp, and meeting park superintendent Phyllis Green and discussing how a trip to Isle Royale is an incredible place for a family adventure…just to name a few!
If you love hiking and camping, Isle Royale is an absolute paradise where you can enjoy the uninterrupted beauty and sound of nature. However, if camping is not for you, you can experience the island from the comfort of the Rock Harbor Lodge. There are a variety of trails that are easy to access from the lodge or by water taxi.
I look forward to my next trip to explore more of this beautiful national treasure.