A straight-forward design, some good carpenters, and visitors to Isle Royale National Park now can have a roof over their heads while staying at the Windigo end of the island in Lake Superior.
"We call them the Windago 'camper cabins,' and they’re really cool," Kim Alexander, general manager of Isle Royale Resorts, the park's lodging concessioner, told me the other day. "They’re the latest offerings that we have up at Isle Royale.”
Isle Royale draws a lot of backpackers to explore its wilderness, and outside of the Rock Harbor Lodge there really hadn't been any place to get in out of the rain until these cabins were made available last year.
"Phyllis Green (the park superintendent) got those built for us," explained Mr. Alexander. "She went out and worked on that, came up with a design that’s really neat and widely used in the Michigan state park system. The National Park Service has this construction crew there at Isle Royale, and those guys are just killer. They could make a killing if they were outside the park as a construction company just building things.”
Armed with designs based on the Michigan camper cabins, the park crews built two "camper cabins" with materials ferried out to the island. Not elaborate, the cabins, which rent for $50 a night, offer bunk beds and futons that combined can handle six people, said Mr. Alexander.
While the cabins are wired with electricity, there's no plumbing; outside there's an outhouse and a spigot for water. They also come with a small porch with chairs, a picnic table, and a propane-fired BBQ grill.
"Two sounds like a modest number. But that’s the starting point," said Mr. Alexander. "The idea being if they prove popular and catch on they'll build some additional ones at the Windigo end of the island as well as the Rock Harbor end of the island.”
After just one season in operation, the cabins seem popular with island visitors, he said.
“We’ve already accumulated enough deposits and reservations on those to match all our revenue from last season, and we haven’t even opened yet," he said. "We expect them to be popular and bring renewed interest to the Windago end of the island.”