Swim from Grand Portage Minnesota to Isle Royal Michigan

frsa0301frsa0301 Member
edited August 2012 in General Discussion
I am planning a 18 mile swim in Lake Superior from Grand Portage to Isle Royal. I was wonder if anyone has done this swim before? I am going to have an escort boat and planning on camping on the Island possibly swimming back. any input would be helpful!


  • evmoevmo San FranciscoAdmin
    Looks like a very interesting (and challenging!) swim. I doubt anyone's done it. What drew you to this swim? What's the expected water temp?
  • I live in Minnesota and my husband and his father have been camping on Isle Royal and enjoyed it. Also the history of Lake Superior and all the mystery that is in such a large lake. The water temp will be low high 50's low 60's.
  • SonjaJSonjaJ Twin Cities, MinnesotaMember

    Hey I know this is old, but did you ever end up doing this swim?
    I live in Minnesota and my husband is convinced I should do this swim someday. Just curious to see if anyone has completed it. Thanks.

  • michael_millermichael_miller San Jose, Costa RicaMember

    Hi @SonjaJ, I started building a folder of information for this route a couple years ago. I had asked the same question to frsa0301 back then but hadn't heard back.

    Short time window where the water temp is adequate, unforgiving area, remote, but deserves more research. A water resources professor in Duluth points to the water temp data that has been recorded daily since 1906 at some location on the great lakes that there is a trend of earlier stratification of the lake and higher temps over time. Yes, I know, crazy to say that, but every degree counts... El Nino years help boost the seasonal peak temperature.

    The water needs to stratify and have extended period of calm conditions. Case in Point: the Bayfield Wisconsin area of the lake is well protected and sandy. The water temp was low to mid 60's for the Point to LaPointe swim there last year. The previous weekend (July 28-29) I swam a couple spots along the north shore - the pebble beach at Knife River and at the protected beach near Split Rock Lighthouse, and even though the satellite data indicated high 50's/low 60's water temps the actual temps were ice cream headache cold 46, 48, and 50 degrees for the three short dips I took that weekend.

    It may just be the need to get away from shore so that you get out of the 'mixed' water;
    the buoy #45006 water temp is currently 63 deg F in the western portion of the lake:


    There are a number of scuba outfitters operating in that area who are booked out far in advance for groups of divers; a number of shipwrecks around the island (another draw for this swim; many visible from the surface from what I read). Those outfitters and the companies providing ferry service to the island would be good information source for water temps, wind conditions, general scuttlebut. There is an old lighthouse called Rock of Ages that is along the route for a swim such as this, or the destination, which also has a weather monitoring station and webcam. I've not been on the Island but see from the maps there are many protected long areas that would be good for swimming regardless of wind conditions. Or even a swim around portions of the island.

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