Grand Island National Recreation Area


Grand Island's beautiful North Beach

Bring the family, friends or yourself and check out Grand Island National Recreation Area!

Grand Island is located in Lake Superior, about one-half mile from the mainland community of Munising, Michigan. Munising is about 43 miles from Marquette and 55 miles from Manistique.

Grand Island is the perfect place to spend a day or even just a few hours biking, exploring, and appreciating nature. Please be aware that, in keeping with agency interim direction, the non-motorized trails (e.g. all bike trails) are not open to eBikes. The island is an exciting and secluded destination that offers: 

  • Breathtaking overlooks
  • Pristine sandy beaches
  • Fascinating cultural sites
  • Deep hardwoods
  • Inland lakes

Online maps are available: Grand Island Recreation Area Map.

How to Reach Grand Island: 

Visitors can reach the island via passenger ferry or private watercraft. 

The ferry departs from Grand Island Landing on the mainland, located on M-28 about 2.5 miles west of the Munising's blinking light. Look for the Grand Island National Recreation Area signs.  

Some campsites are conveniently located for kayakers.

History of Grand Island: 

If you're interested in the island's history, check out the Grand Island 25th Anniversary Page (archived).

East End Overlook on Grand Island Bikers waiting for the Ferry at William Boating around Grand Island Grand Island East Channel Lighthouse East end of the North Beach

At a Glance

Current Conditions: Campsites/campgrounds open Friday before Memorial Day and require reservations.
Operational Hours: For ferry schedule and information contact the Grand Island Ferry Service, Inc.
Reservations: Reservations - Reservations are required for camping on Grand Island between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. Cobble Cove, Flat Rock and Muskrat Point are first come, first served.
Fees:
  • Standard Amenity Fee for Day Use of Grand Island is $5 per person per trip. 
  • Overnight camping in individual sites (4-6 people) range from $8 - $10 per night.
  • Group Campsites (up to 25 people) are $30 per night.
Open Season: Friday before Memorial Day - Columbus Day
Usage: Medium-Heavy

Recreation Map

Map showing recreational areas. Map Information

Activities

Beachcombing

Enjoy the beautiful beaches on Grand Island.

Calm waters beckon boaters and swimmers to Murray Bay where a lovely sand beach and Day Use Picnic Area are perfect for whiling away a lazy afternoon.

Explore pristine Trout Bay Beach where a long stretch of sugar sand affords spectacular views of Trout Bay Cliffs and far off in the distance, Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore.

North Beach takes a little more effort to visit as it is 10 miles from William’s Landing, but it is well worth the effort. Arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the Upper Peninsula, secluded North Beach will captivate you.

The west side of the Island boasts several stone covered beaches. The two most popular are Waterfall and Mather beaches. Perfect for rockhounds and agate seekers, these beaches also afford fantastic views of Lake Superior and Williams Island.

Metal detectors are not allowed in Grand Island Recreation Area.

Status: Open

Mountain Biking

The island provides over 40 miles of rugged dirt/sand trails and easier gravel roads that will accommodate any level of biker. Please note that in keeping with agency interim direction, eBikes are not allowed.

For example, a family planning a day of biking can arrive on the early boat, take a leisurely pace and travel partway up the west rim trail, cut across the island on an old logging road to Trout Bay Overlook, travel down to Trout Bay day use area for a picnic meal and beach walk, and finish the day biking down along Murray Bay to Williams Landing in time to return to the mainland.

Mountain Bike Route

More advanced, energetic cyclists can mountain bike the 20-mile main island perimeter route in four to six hours, with time for brief stops and some exploration.

Bike Rentals

If you don’t have a bike with you, no problem! The Grand Island Ferry Service rents mountain bikes right at William's Landing. For more information about bike rentals or ferry schedules, please call 906- 387-2600 or visit Grand Island Ferry Service, Inc.

Additional Information

If you are traveling to and from the island on the passenger ferry, keep the ferry schedule in mind as you plan your time on the island. Consider your level of fitness and your pace as you make route choices. Bicycling off roads and trails is not allowed. Please respect private property signs.

Status: Open

Campground Camping

Rental Cabins

A concessionaire operates two rental cabins on Grand Island. For details and to make reservations, visit Recreation.gov or call toll free 1-877-444-6777.

  • Merchant Cabin (rustic)
  • Sunset Cabin (rustic)

Individual Campsites

Permits are required for camping at Grand Island campsites between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. Make reservations on Recreation.gov.

Each of Murray Bay's two designated individual sites allows up to 6 people and a maximum of 2 tents.

On Trout Bay, four designated sites allow up to 4 people each, with a maximum of 2 tents. A vault toilet is provided at each end of Trout Bay. The Trout Bay sites can be accessed either by the trail or by water. A day use area is located on the east side and west side of Trout Bay Beach.

There are 13 other designated individual sites located on the rim trail and the Thumb of the island. A maximum of 6 six people and 2 tents are allowed. 

At each designated site, campers must set up their tents within 15 feet of the site marker post. Fires are allowed only in the metal fire ring provided. DO NOT BUILD FIRES ON THE BEACH OR OUTSIDE THE FIRE RINGS.  

Refer to the map of Grand Island to see all 19 individual campsite locations. To reserve, search by campsite name on Recreation.gov:

  • Bermuda
  • Channel Marker
  • Cobble Cove (no reservations)
  • Driftwood
  • Duck Lake
  • Flat Rock (no reservations)
  • Freighter View
  • Gamefence
  • Gull Point
  • Hardwood
  • Hemlock
  • Little Duck
  • Little Dunes 1
  • Little Dunes 2
  • Loon Call
  • Muskrat Point (no reservations)
  • Preservation Point
  • Road's End
  • Shelter Ridge

Group Campsites

Permits are required for camping at Grand Island campsites between Memorial Day and Columbus Day. Make reservations on Recreation.gov.

Each group site accommodates 7 to 25 people.

Murray Bay group site is accessible by trail or water. Vault toilet is provided near Day Use Area. A day use picnic area is also located at Murray Bay; camping is not allowed at the day use area.

Juniper Flats group site is accessible by trail and is located on the south west shore of the island near Waterfall Beach. 

Random Camping

Random camping is permitted on Grand Island if a camper is at least 100 feet from a body of water, cliff edge, private property, trails, other campsites, special use recreation residenes of recreation developments. No campfires allowed when random camping.

Access

Please note that in keeping with agency interim direction, eBikes are not allowed.

More Information About Specific Campsites

Status: Open
Fees: Visit Recreation.gov for current fees.

Areas for Campground Camping at Grand Island National Recreation Area

Day Hiking

There are many hiking opportunities along the island's perimeter as well as its interior, providing a relatively secluded setting for hikers seeking a measure of solitude. Download the Grand Island Recreation Map

Currently, a 4-mile hiking-only trail has been designated in the northeast part of the island, and the 2-mile Thumb trail is reserved for hiking-only use.

Of course, hikers can also use any of the 20-mile hiking/biking Rim Trail in addition to the road system. Undesignated hiking opportunities lie on old roadbeds, cross a variety of terrain and provide shoreline view.

Please respect private property signs.

For passenger ferry schedule and information contact Grand Island Ferry Service, Inc. at 906-387-2600.

Status: Open

Viewing Plants

Visit the Farm Field to view our native plant garden.

Areas for Viewing Plants at Grand Island National Recreation Area

Viewing Scenery

View breathtaking beaches, waterfalls and cliffs.

Interpretive Areas

Grand Island has interpretive signs scattered throughout the Island to help you learn about the island's unique history and ecological features.

Boating - Motorized

Day use and overnight visitors enjoy boating to Grand Island National Recreation Area (NRA). While much of the island's 30-mile perimeter is inaccessible due to cliffs, there are several campsites and day use areas with water access. The once-per-visit fee of $5 per person can be paid at the interagency Visitor Center in Munising or at the fee station at one of the Island's day use areas listed below. 

Boating Safety

Weather and Lake Superior:

Safety is a concern for all watercraft on Lake Superior. Lake Superior can become hazardous for any size vessel even in moderate weather. The weather can suddenly change, exposing you to cold temperatures, wind, fog, lightning and rough seas. Except for shallow beaches, Lake Superior's temperatures rarely reach above 55 degrees.  Hypothermia can happen in as little as 15 minutes. Before you go, check the marine forecast. Remember: PFD's (personal flotation devices) should be worn at all times on Lake Superior.

Cliffs:

Grand Island NRA has many miles of cliffs including sheer walls all the way to the water line offering no escape from the elements and the wake from other vessels. Boat tours leave Munising on a regular basis during the summer months. They run close to the shoreline including Murray Bay and the east shore of the island's Thumb. Give them plenty of room and be prepared for their wake.

Great Lakes Boats vs. Inland Lakes Boats:

There is a reason that the Great Lakes are sometimes called "inland seas". In many ways they "act" more like the ocean than like the typical inland lake. The winds are stronger, waves are bigger, and the water (especially in Lake Superior) is much colder and deeper.

DO NOT imagine that you can safely use your inland lakes equipment on the Great Lakes.

Larger, more sea-worthy boats with at least one back-up motor are recommended because they are safer on Lake Superior. Smaller recreational boats suitable for protected inland waters can be dangerous in high winds and big waves on Lake Superior. 

Instruction and Trip Planning:

Instruction and competence on proper techniques including rescues or using a guide are recommended for beginners or those who have never boated on Lake Superior. A permit is required for camping on Grand Island. Visit Recreation.gov for more information.

Leave a Float Plan With a Friend:

A float plan contains important information such as your name and address, vessel description, number of people in your group, safety equipment, planned route, length of trip and return date. 

Leave your float plan with a friend or family member and tell them to call 911 if you are overdue or an emergency arises. Contact your friend in case of a delay, and always when you return.

U.S. Coast Guard Equipment Requirements:

All vessels on Lake Superior are required to have a wearable Personal Flotation Device per person on board and a sounc providing device that is audible for one half mile for 4-6 seconds (such as a horn or whistle).  When operating from sunset to sunrise and in or near areas of reduced visibility, use navigational lights that may be seen by others and be equipped with a visual distress signal.

Fees: $5.00/person/visit
Permit required?: Y

Areas for Boating - Motorized at Grand Island National Recreation Area

Boating - Non-Motorized

Day use and overnight visitors enjoy traveling in sea kayaks to Grand Island National Recreation Area (NRA). While much of the island's 30-mile perimeter is inaccessible due to cliffs, there are several campsites and day use areas with water access. The once-per-visit fee of $5 per person can be paid at the interagency Visitor Center in Munising or at the fee station at one of the Island's day use areas listed below.

Kayak Safety

Weather and Lake Superior:
Safety is a concern for all watercraft on Lake Superior. Lake Superior can become hazardous for any size vessel even in moderate weather. 

The weather can suddenly change, exposing you to cold temperatures, wind, fog, lightning, and rough seas. Except for shallow beaches, Lake Superior's temperatures rarely reach above 55 degrees. Hypothermia can happen in as little as 15 minutes. 

Before you go, check the marine forecast. Remember:  PFD's (personal flotation devices) should be worn at all times on Lake Superior.

Cliffs:

Grand Island NRA has many miles of cliffs including sheer walls all the way to the water line offering no escape from the elements and the wake from other vessels. Boat tours leave Munising on a regular basis during the summer months.  They run close to the shoreline including Murray Bay and the east shore of the island's Thumb. Give them plenty of room and be prepared for their wake.

Sea Kayaks vs. Recreational Kayaks:

Sea kayaks with a spray skirt are recommended because they are safer on Lake Superior. Recreational kayaks are designed for inland waters and can be dangerous in high winds and big waves.

Sea kayaks for single person use are generally 16 to 19 feet long, with hatches and bulkheads providing flotation in the front and back.

Recreational kayaks are shorter, usually 10 to 14 feet long with a large open cockpit and at most on hatch and bulkhead. Recreational kayaks are inappropriate for use on Lake Superior.

Instruction and Trip Planning:

Instruction and competence on proper techniques including rescues or using a guide are recommended for beginners or those who have never kayaked on Lake Superior. A permit is required for camping on Grand Island. Visit Recreation.gov for more information.

Leave a Float Plan with a Friend:

A float plan contains important information such as your name and address, vessel description, number of people in your group, safety equipment, planned route, length of trip and return date. 

Leave your float plan with a friend or family member and tell them to call 911 if you are overdue or an emergency arises. Contact your friend in case of a delay, and always when you return.

U.S. Coast Guard Equipment Requirements:

All vessels on Lake Superior are required to have a wearable Personal Flotation Device per person on board and a sound providing device that is audible for one half mile for 4-6 seconds (such as a horn or whistle). When operating from sunset to sunrise and in or near areas of reduced visibility, use navigational lights that may be seen by others and be equipped with a visual distress signal.

 

Swimming

Areas for Swimming at Grand Island National Recreation Area

Recreation Areas

Recreation Activities

Location

 
  Latitude : 
46.44485

  Longitude : 
-86.664628