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Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

Indianapolis...
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Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

We're a family of 4 hoping to go to Isle Royale in late July. The family isn't quite ready for backpacking yet so the choice is the hotel or the cabins. I lean toward the latter not only for the sleeping arrangements, but to avoid having to eat every meal in a restaurant. Can anyone comment? Does the hotel sell things like milk or bread or do we need to bring everything with us for breakfast and simple dinners (think mac and cheese)? I'm assuming we can bring our own alcohol, cheese and crackers, snacks and stuff for hiking or kayaking during the day. And speaking of which, is the hiking and kayaking enough to keep kids occupied for a couple of days? Is the diving only scuba or is there any snorkeling that allows you to see any shipwrecks? Should we bring our snorkeling gear? Reading about how cold Lake Superior is, I wonder if we're really going to be in the water that much! Thanks for your input.

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Ann Arbor, MI
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1. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

Hi,

You're more likely to get answers to your questions on the forum dedicated to Isle Royale (not a TA forum):

http://isleroyaleforums.com/

Yes, Lake Superior is COLD. It can warm up in protected bays or if the wind is just right on sunny days, but most of the time it is "plunge in, gasp, get out" kinds of swimming for adults. I love to snorkel, but I can't imagine doing it without a wetsuit in Lk Superior.

If your kids like to hike/canoe/kayak there is plenty to do and see. I've only backpacked there, so I've never done any of the ranger led tours, but the list on the park's website looks interesting. The guided boat tours sound like a good way to see other parts of the island.

Jackson, Wisconsin
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2. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

There are plenty of day hikes that start at the lodge area. Can keep you busy for 2-3 days. Lookout Louise hike combines canoeing with the hike. Scoville point is another half day hike.

I would bring my own food .The small general store might have a box of granola bars or a can of baked beans, but it is very small and is a general store also stocking bug repellant and sunscreen and socks and hats.

We really enjoyed taking a day cruise from the lodge to Passage Island . The ranger pointed out several plants and of course the lighthouse.

Chicago's North...
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3. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

take your own food. keep it simple.

in 2006, we stayed in the cabins for 3 nites and it was worth every penny..... keep in mind, the cabins (at least the one we stayed in) has 1 double bed and 1 bunk bed in a studio layout..... the room was probably 1970's vintage.... the windows were huge and ours overlooked the bay with the sea plane dock---it was cool watching it land and take off.... and the view was splendid.... one morning, a moose cow and calf were hanging out near our cabin---pretty cool, i must say......

as i recall, there was a water taxi that took you to various spots (trailheads, canoes etc) within a few miles of the lodge area.... i took out a canoe for awhile..... so, if your kids are into paddling, i'm sure they'll have plenty to do to keep them entertained.

Edited: 11 June 2012, 05:56
Indianapolis...
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4. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

Luv2 snorkel,

Thanks so much for the reality check. I'm from the Northwest so have swum in high altitude alpine lakes that were wonderful, but remember getting a "brain freeze" from diving into Glacier lake at Glacier National Park so I know exactly what you mean by "plunge in, gasp, get out"! My kids are a bit lukewarm on hiking, have never backpacked, but do enjoy kayaking. Thanks for the tip on the websites.

Indianapolis...
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5. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

Gwenbry,

Thanks for all your input. All of your suggestions gave me a good feel for the choices of things to do using the lodge as base. As I began negotiating with my family on this one I finally decided that I should introduce serious hiking and/or backpacking in a less "committed" fashion, i.e., over the weekend somewhere closer to home so that if everyone (except me) absolutely hated it, we could cut our losses and find a hotel or head home. The more I learned about Isle Royale, the more I worried that I'd be in heaven and everyone else would be complaining, especially when I realized that Lake Superior isn't exactly swimming or snorkeling friendly (everyone else in the family loves swimming...I'd rather go on a hike). So thank you. I think we'll target the lower peninsula for this trip, maybe the Sleeping Bear Dunes area, and mix in some (warmer) beach time on Lake Michigan and a couple of hotel stays to keep everybody happy (and clean).

Indianapolis...
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6. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

Strange Tripper,

Really appreciate the post. Actually, you made me realize that I'd rather spend the $1,000 on backpacks for the family and get out into the wilderness than stay at the lodge, whether it was the hotel or the cabins. While the cagins sound ideally situated on the water, what I hope for was to get my family into the wilderness and experience the grandeur, isolation and beauty of Isle Royale. Frankly, they're not ready. So we'll take some baby steps elsewhere in Michigan and maybe next year do some backpacking in a more easily accessible place (like back where I grew up).

Thanks, again, for helping clarify what I wanted vs. what I was compromising on. While the outcome wasn't quite what I wanted for me personally, I think the family will have a better vacation keeping everyone's needs and preferences in mind. I think of those classic Calvin and Hobbes cartoons where they're camping in a pouring rain, miserable, while the dad is exclaiming what a great time they're all having. That's one extreme and the other is spending a lot of money to reproduce a hotel experience in the wilderness when the whole point is to get away from it all.

Ann Arbor, MI
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7. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

Indy,

Maybe a happy compromise is the yurt at Craig Lake State park in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

I am a backpacker (well, not for a while now) and my husband is not a wilderness kind of guy at all. My daughter loves to camp, but is not a distance hiker. Last summer I gambled a bit and rented the yurt not knowing if they'd like it, but we all had a fantastic time.

The yurt is a brief 1/4 mile walk from where your park your vehicle. It has beds and some creature comforts, but it is the only camp site on Teddy Lake so you have wonderful solitude. It comes with a row boat for the small lake. You can row to the other side of the lake where there is a nice place to swim. At night the loons call on the lake--that is all the sound you'll hear. The park has several good hiking trails. It is a very lightly used state park so you see very few people.

I'm happy to answer any questions you have if this sounds like something you want to know more about.

Here's the link to the state park:

michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/details.aspx…

I found this video of the yurt when I was researching whether it would be a good choice for us:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uubyyxy2XTo

Chicago's North...
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8. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

day hikes at pictured rocks and/or the porkies sound like another good compromise.... you'll still be on lake superior, so the water might not be great for swimming (but the way this summer is going with the heat, it might actually be ok)...

on your way up, you could break up the drive and spend 2 days at sleeping bear dunes----the water *should* be good by then... with that in mind, and if you don't wanna go up to the yoop on this trip, you could take a ferry out to south manitou island and camp for a coupla nights... you could day hike all the way around the island, climb 400 foot sand dunes, swim/snorkel/paddle in crystal clear water, check out a shipwreck, see some giant cedar trees..... you will definitely feel like you're away from it all.... yet, you'll only be a 1.5 hour ferry ride from civilization.... if you go this route, plan to spend 2 nites on the island and at least 2 on the mainland.....

http://www.manitoutransit.com/

and you'll get even more isolation here:

http://www.northmanitou.com/

i've never been, so i can't comment....

sleepingbeardunes.com/blog/…

Indianapolis...
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9. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

Strange Tripper,

Thanks for the additional tips. We've decided to stay on the lower peninsula for this trip and use it as a reconnoitering mission traveling up the western coast to Traverse City and back down again. Our plan is to get familar with the area so we can think about return trips. The cruises out to the Manitou Islands sound ieal so we may do a day trip in order to see whether we're up for returning in the future for a multi-day stay on the island. I guess I never thought of Michigan as being particular "wilderness-ey" so I'm learning a lot as a result of this trip planning. Thanks for highlighting places to really get away and enjoy nature without having to hop on a plane out west.

Cheers, Indy Mom

Indianapolis...
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10. Re: Hotel vs. Housekeeping Cabins

Luv2 Snorkel,

Thanks for the additional info, the yurt looks like a lot of fun and I will bookmark this for future reference. We decided to stay in the lower peninsula for this trip and get a feel for what's what and where. This has been one of the hardest trips for me to plan because I have no feel for what Michigan has to offer...but I'm learning! We've decided to stay longer in fewer places in order to explore areas with South Haven and Traverse City as our 2 bases. This way we'll be able to explore a smaller area and figure out what we want to come back for. I've decided that the UP may have to be it's own dedicated trip or combined with a Boundary Waters visit. Girl Scouts watch out!

Thanks, again, for all your help and the extra info. I had a friend ski into a yurt in southern Idaho (not how I celebrated my 50th, I can assure you!) and she loved it.

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