Is it possible to celebrate the U.S. National Park Service’s 100th birthday on August 25, 2016 on an island? Oh, yes! Especially if you make your plans soon.

Three NPS Island Getaways

You have three over-the-top wonderful National Park Service (NPS) Great Lakes Basin (GLB) islands from which to choose. While all three are in Michigan, Wisconsinites and Minnesotans, Illinoisans and Hoosiers, and, of course, Ontarians can relatively easily join Michiganders (both Yoopers and “Trolls”) in flocking to:

Once there was a fourth island choice

From 1875-1895, there was a fourth island choice. Mackinac National Park was the second national park created, after Yellowstone National Park, which had been established in 1872. Yellowstone was not just the first U. S. National Park, but also as the first national park anywhere in the world. Today 80% of Mackinac Island is Mackinac Island State Park, Michigan first state park and one of six attractions managed by the Mackinac State Historic Parks.

What’s with the math?

Hmmm, anyone else notice what I noticed regarding the math? If the first U.S. National Park was established in 1872, that’s not 100 years; it’s 144 years.

The history section of the National Park Service‘s website explains this discrepancy:

On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the act creating the National Park Service, a new federal bureau in the Department of the Interior responsible for protecting the 35 national parks and monuments then managed by the department and those yet to be established.

So 144 years of national parks and for the last 100 years these parks have been managed by the National Park Service.

NPS Island Accommodations

The centennial is a wonderful excuse to plan your trip to a U.S. National Park island today. Plan today–Memorial Day–and call for ferry and campground or lodge reservations tomorrow.  Despite the calendar indicating June 20th is the first day of summer, you know the “first day of summer” has arrived today.

While camping is the only way to spend the night on South Manitou Island, and a visit to North Manitou Island–where a day trip is not possible–requires camping in order to visit the island, Isle Royale has Rock Harbor Lodge for those who prefer not to camp in one of the island’s 36 campgrounds.

A Gift for You Today

Sometimes it helps to kickstart planning a trip if you see a few photos and imagine yourself crossing the water, spending the night, and having an island adventure, so I’ve popped in a few such photos below to get your imagination warmed up. This could be you!

Isle Royale: Heading for, Arriving at, and Hiking up

Vicki accompanied me in August of 2013 to Isle Royale, on the heels of two other Lake
Superior island visits: Grand Island, Michigan and Madeline Island, Wisconsin. We chose to depart for Isle Royale  from the mainland at Grand Portage, Minnesota on Voyageur II, but there are several other choices for departure.


Our captain of Voyageur II, prepping us for the 7.5-hour ferry ride from Grand Portage, MN to Isle Royale.




See those three specks near shore? A cow moose followed by her twin calves in Isle Royale’s Washington Harbor as we approached Windigo.


Rock Harbor Lodge as seen from Voyager II on our arrival.


Our room (on the first floor) in Rock Harbor Lodge on Isle Royale.









The balcony view from our room, cantilevered over the water, at Rock Harbor Lodge.










Vicki and I atop Mt. Franklin, the destination of a perfect                                                                      roundtrip day hike from Rock Harbor . . . to quite the view!

South and North Manitou Islands: First Impressions

Kathy accompanied me in July of 2014 to both South and North Manitou islands. For either island, one leaves on the Manitou Island Transit from the Fishtown dock in Leland, Michigan.


The Mishe-Mokwa pulling into the Fishtown dock in Leland.


North Manitou ferry landing


South Manitou Island ferry landing


Our campsite at the edge of the woods in Bay Campground on South Manitou Island.









Our view of Crescent Bay from our campsite on South Manitou Island.


Kathy and I leaving South Manitou Island for North Manitou Island.

So many island adventures await you on each of these three Great Lakes Basin islands! If you are interested, you can see more island photos, peruse island maps, and contemplate many more ideas for island adventures in this island resource . . .

(And please don’t get me started on the opportunities for island visits a la Parks Canada–established May 19, 2011; they’ve already celebrated their centennial–or the numerous Great Lake Basin islands that include state or provincial (Ontario) park lands.

. . . Just make your ferry and island accommodation reservations soon!