The National Park Service has released its visitation data for 2023 and again, Isle Royale holds the distinction of being the least visited National Park in the 'Lower 48' and 5th least visited in the entire United States.

Isle Royale is really, really difficult to get to. Isolated in Lake Superior, travel to the island requires a lengthily car ride (or many connecting airplanes) to either northern Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula or Grand Portage, Minnesota for ferry service to the park.

The ferry ride is 6 hours from the Michigan mainland. And when you get there? It's pretty much just the island. And beer - a reddit user once shared how much beer was shipped to Isle Royale weekly.

This is the ferry boat from Copper Harbor:

Isle Royale Ferry
Photo by Hans Isaacson on Unsplash

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Perhaps we're selling it short. CNN, in reporting on the 2023 visitation stats, describes Isle Royale like this:

An isolated archipelago in Lake Superior, Isle Royale boasts 165 miles of trails and more than 30 campgrounds. It’s open from mid-April through the end of October. Ferry and seaplane service typically runs from mid-May through the end of September, according to NPS.

There are fewer mammal species here — only 18 — than on the mainland because animals must cross at least 14 miles of Lake Superior. Wolves and moose are among the notable animal residents.

In 2023, the park saw just less than 29,000 visitors. Of the other parks in the bottom 5, 3 are in Alaska and one is in American Samoa.

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Isle Royale actually saw an increase in visitors over 2022 when 25,454 people make their way to the island.

So when you really want to get away from it all in a National Park, it's not Yellowstone or Yosemite. It's Alaska, American Samoa or Isle Royale.

LOOK: Must-do activities at every national park

Stacker lists the must-do activities at every national park ranked by the annual number of visitors. 

Gallery Credit: Angela Underwood