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Established Camping

McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park

About

National Park Service

Isle Royale National Park

McCargoe Cove Campground is located in McCargoe Cove, on the north shore of Isle Royale National Park, off of the Indian Portage and East Chickenbone Trails. Boats can overnight at dock. Canoe/kayak access from Lake Superior or 1.2 mile portage from Chickenbone Lake. Stay Limit: 3 nights effective from June 1 ___ Labor Day annually. Shelters: 6 Depth at dock (normal conditions): 7___. Access: Foot/canoe/kayak/private boat

Reservation Info

Groups of more than six require reservations.

Fishing in this lake requires a Michigan Fishing License since it is on Lake Superior.

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Location

McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park is located in Michigan

Detail location of campground

Directions

McCargoe Cove Campground is located in McCargoe Cove, on the north shore of Isle Royale National Park, off of the Indian Portage and East Chickenbone Trails.

Address

800 E. Lakeshore Drive
Houghton, MI 49931

Coordinates

48.087196 N
88.709349 W

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Access

  • Hike-In
    Backcountry sites.
  • Boat-In
    Sites accessible by watercraft.

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  • WiFi
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  • AT&T
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Site Types

  • Tent Sites
  • Group
  • Tent Cabin

Features

For Campers

  • Toilets

Reviews

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5 Reviews

Amy G.The Dyrt ADMIN User
Reviewed Jun. 27, 2024

Lots of shelters and sites and this one has a group fire ring!

This is a lovely campground on Isle Royale - none of them are terrible (let's face it - you are on a gorgeous island that's basically untouched!), but this one is a little larger than some with more shelters than others.

Shelters - they are first come first served.  If the campground is uber full, the policy and expectation is that you consider sharing with others, especially if you are a party of one or two.   Not a bad policy and courteous, for sure. But this didn't happen when we were here. Each shelter is four sided with the front side "screened in" for bugs. This is lovely in buggy weather! There are also boards all over the inside (parallel to the floor around the walls) that are great for hanging and airing out wet items. Each one had a picnic table and trees and was a very short walk to water and a toilet.

Tent pads - there are separate tent areas that are away from shelters, for the most part. Nothing is "close" here so there is quite a bit of room.

Group - there are three group areas. If using group areas on a normal basis, you must have a group reservation and groups of more than 6 require this in advance. Three group areas all near to each other but with nice green buffers in between and a toilet to share between them.

Toilets - not fancy but offer privacy.  Small wooden shelters with a metal toilet and a pit. **NOTE:  they do not provide TP - you must take your own**  They don't smell like roses (what pit toilet does?) but they allow privacy and no need to dig a cat hole. Bonus win win.

This is one of only a handful of camps on the island that has a fire pit! It's a shared fire (not one for each site) with picnic tables nearby and a lovely view of the water. Only collect downed wood (no bigger than your wrist) to burn. 

As others have mentioned - there is a very nice dock here since a boat comes a few times a week with passengers. This is a "stop" for drop offs from the mainland (you must book this boat in advance to get here). So it's a great place to chill in the breeze, do a bit of yoga stretching, dry your socks, enjoy an evening coffee or fall over after hiking - lol. 

***Be aware - there are leeches in the lake. We attempted to splash off a bit and noticed them.***

Oh yes - the camp fox. He/she is a regular here. We saw the fox many times. Not afraid of people, will steal your stuff (including shoes) so be careful, tie your drying shoes to the picnic table, and do not feed the wildlife. But it it a beautiful specimen of an animal!

SiteShelter 7
Month of VisitJuly
Ethan S.
Reviewed Apr. 27, 2022

McCargoe Cove is Beautiful

McCargoe is one of the most beautiful campgrounds on the island. I have heard that it can get busy due to the dock, but when I stayed there it was quite peaceful and solitary. A loon was swimming in the cove and we came across a cow moose just south on the trail.

Month of VisitJuly
Sarah C.The Dyrt PRO User
Reviewed Apr. 10, 2022

Nice but busy

Given that there is a relatively large dock here and a concessionaire ferry comes through here several times a week, there can be a lot of traffic. That being said, there are nice tent sites and some really cool tent/cabin structures. It wasn't super buggy while we were here so being in a tent was just fine. There are some nice open, rocky, sunny spots that are nice for sitting and enjoying the view. Be advised, there are quite a number of waterfowl that frequent the area so treat your water well, in fact the Park Service recommends treating your drinking water in two ways (ie. filter AND boil, chemically treat AND filter, some combination of two). The water is refreshing but there are leaches in addition to abundant bird poop. All part of the experience I suppose!

Month of VisitSeptember
  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Sarah C., April 10, 2022
  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Sarah C., April 10, 2022
  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Sarah C., April 10, 2022
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Matt S.
Reviewed Aug. 31, 2018

Our First stop on the Island

A small group of family and friends left the luxuries of home to backpack thirty miles in Isle Royale National Park. It was an amazing experience and I look forward to taking the rest of my children here as they grow up.

The first leg of our journey was a boat ride from Grand Portage, Minnesota to McCargoe Cove. We did not do much backpacking the first day. We did hike around the area and set up camp to take it easy our first night. We elected to stay in our own tents, but those who wanted more amenities could take advantage of several small shelters built in each camp.

Other than Windigo and Rock Harbor, there are no amenities other than some shelters and latrines.

McCargoe Cove is set in a cove right off Lake superior, so this spot is especially popular with the fishermen since there is a nice dock and ease of access for their boats. This was a nice place to stay but it wasn't my favorite.

I tried some new food at McCargoe Cove that I highly recommend: NOKA - Mango/Coconut was fantastic.

  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Matt S., August 31, 2018
  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Matt S., August 31, 2018
  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Matt S., August 31, 2018
  • (11) View All
Tee Jay M.
Reviewed Apr. 6, 2017

Gorgeous and Serene

We stayed at McCargoe Cove two of our four nights at ISRO and absolutely loved it. The shelters are very secluded from one another so you won't be on top of the group next to you at all. Nice fire ring down by the water - though not much downed wood very close nearby to get a fire going.

This was my favorite spot that we saw on the island, would recommend to anybody. Absolutely gorgeous and peaceful in the morning. Best spot I've had had a cup of coffee.

We had a fox come through our site right outside the door of our shelter too - way cool.

  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Tee Jay M., April 6, 2017
  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Tee Jay M., April 6, 2017
  • Review photo of McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park by Tee Jay M., April 6, 2017
  • (4) View All

Frequently Asked Questions

Does McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park have wifi?

No, according to campers on TheDyrt.com, McCargoe Cove Campground — Isle Royale National Park does not have wifi.