There's a $4 Park User Fee that isn't included in the boat ticket so you have to either pay it separately on-line or line up to pay it when you get there. The boat leaves at 7:30 am and it takes about two hours to get there. Of course, I wanted to sit outside.
There's an old twisted tree standing on a rock on Hat Point as you leave Grand Portage Bay called Little Cedar Spirit Tree. The Ojibwe hold it sacred and sometimes they leave tobacco to ensure a save journey on Lake Superior. I'm not sure why a tree would want tobacco, but that's what the guide said.
When we actually got to Windigo, there was a Ranger waiting on the dock for us. Actually, she wasn't a Ranger, but an intern. There were at least three college girls, working there for the summer. They handled the interpretive talks and the Visitor Center, using lots of notes and admitting when they didn't know the answers, which was fairly often. I don't think we ever did see a Ranger. Oh, well, maybe they were off riding herd on the moose and the wolves...doing their job keeping them away from the day trippers.
Since we only had a few hours on the island, we opted to learn as much as we could by going to the interpretive talks. Actually, the first one was also an interpretive walk along part of the Nature Trail through the "moose-free" enclosure, which of course, had no moose because they were with the Rangers. There we could see the difference in trees that were allowed to grow naturally and the stunted ones that were chomped on by hungry moose in the winter. (Check out the clipboard--she has a script and read everything to us.)
Apparently only about 20,000 people a year go to Isle Royale. (Which BTW is not pronounced like it should be--the locals totally ignore the "e" at the end, so it's just royal, not royale. I'd been saying it wrong for months.) I can understand why more don't come--it's difficult and expensive to get to. What I can't understand is why everyone thinks this is such a beautiful and unique national park. I really hate to sound like I'm bragging about home, but I think the San Juan Islands in Washington state are prettier, easier and cheaper to get there on a ferry, have a more impressive history and there's more to do too. (Apologies to my friends from Michigan and Minnesota.)
More pictures here: Isle Royale Natl Park