It may seem curious to some how this land became the first national park in Michigan. The island where it is located is technically closer to Canada than the United States. In fact, it is easier to access it from Minnesota, a little more than 15 miles away, while the upper Peninsula of Michigan is 56 miles away. However, this island came to the U.S. by being just south of the Canadian-American border of Lake Superior and became part of Michigan by the same treaties that put it in U.S. hands. While the island itself is only about 206 square miles, it is the vast underwater area around it that makes this park one of the top 25 national parks by size. Then again, there has always been more to Isle Royale National Park than what’s on the surface.
At 45 miles long and nine miles wide, it is the largest natural island in Lake Superior and the second largest in all of the great lakes. Before becoming a national park, it was its own county in Michigan and the site of a failed copper boom. The last national park created before the U.S. entered World War II, it remains in a state similar to how it appeared when the first European fur traders and trappers encountered the native Ojibwe people. They and their ancestors had lived, hunted and fished in this area dating back to at least 2000 BCE. While Isle Royale is the biggest island and namesake of the park, there are actually dozens of other islands that are part of the park's land. Today, Isle Royale National Park is popular with fishermen, boaters, kayakers, and scuba divers searching for the ships lost in the treacherous waters of Lake Superior.
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