Belle Isle, Questions and Answers

Do I need a Recreation Passport to access Belle Isle Park?

  • Vehicle access
    Yes, a Recreation Passport is required when accessing the island by vehicle.
  • Pedestrian access
    The Passport applies only to vehicles - not individuals. Pedestrians, bicyclists and those using public transportation can enter the park for free and will not need the Passport.
  • Bus transportation
    The Department of Natural Resources is working with the city of Detroit to re-establish a public bus route to the island. Although the bus will need a Recreation Passport for entry, those riding the bus will not.

How much does a Recreation Passport cost?

  • Michigan-registered vehicles: $11
  • Michigan-registered motorcycles: $5
  • Non-Michigan registered vehicles: $31
  • Non-Michigan registered vehicles daily pass: $9 (Daily passes are not available for Michigan-registered vehicles.)
  • Buses: $16

How long is my Recreation Passport valid?

  • The Recreation Passport is valid until your vehicle's next license plate registration renewal date. This includes both Recreation Passports purchased through the Secretary of State or at a state park or recreation area.

Where can I purchase a Recreation Passport?

  • Secretary of State
    Check "YES" for the Recreation Passport when renewing your license plate registration with the Secretary of State. Renewal options with the Secretary of State include in-person at branch offices or by kiosk, online or mail.
  • At Belle Isle Park
    Recreation Passports can be purchased at the visitor contact station on the island, located just after crossing the MacArthur Bridge. Through late spring, the contact station is staffed with a park ranger from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The visitor contact station will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day from May through September.
  • At all state parks and recreation areas, including three in downtown Detroit:
    • Belle Isle Park: In addition to the visitor contact station, Recreation Passports can be purchased at the administrative office, located in the White House on Inselruhe Avenue across from the Belle Isle Aquarium. The office is open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.
    • The Outdoor Adventure Center, located at 1801 Atwater Street at the corner of Atwater and Orleans Streets (in the former Globe Building). Until late June, when the facility will be open to the public and front entrance can be accessed, enter through the side door on the corner of Atwater Street and Orleans Street next to the parking lot. The Outdoor Adventure Center is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday.
    • Milliken State Park and Harbor, located at 1900 Atwater Street. The administrative office is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday-Friday beginning mid-April.
  • Non-Michigan registered vehicle owners can purchase a Recreation Passport at a state park or recreation area - including at Belle Isle Park - or online at Recreation Passports are not available online for Michigan-registered vehicles.

If I already have a Recreation Passport, can I travel onto the island without stopping at the visitor contact station near the MacArthur Bridge?

Yes, if you already have a Recreation Passport on your vehicle, you can access the island without first stopping at the visitor contact station, located just after the MacArthur Bridge. Drivers of vehicles without the Recreation Passport must stop at the contact station, if open, to purchase a Recreation Passport. By late spring, when the permanent visitor contact station is installed, there will be several lanes on either side of the contact station. The inner lanes are for those who need to purchase the Recreation Passport. The outer lanes are for those who already have a Recreation Passport on their vehicle. Those lanes are meant for vehicles to keep moving onto the island so there is little or no wait to access the island.

What if I'm on the island without a Recreation Passport? Will I be penalized?

If you're on the island without a Recreation Passport, a park ranger will give you a paper notice, or leave the notice on the windshield of the vehicle if you are not with the vehicle, providing instructions on where to purchase a Recreation Passport within the next ten days. A mail-in option will also be available so that the passport can be purchased via mail should you not be able to stop at a location selling the Recreation Passport during this timeframe. By following the instructions in the notice to purchase a Recreation Passport, there will be no penalty.

Where can I go with the Recreation Passport?

You gain access to all state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds and non-motorized trail head and boat launch parking. This access includes many state parks - in addition to Belle Isle Park - in the metro Detroit area: Bald Mountain Recreation Area, Dodge 4 State Park, Highland Recreation Area, Island Lake Recreation Area, Maybury State Park, Milliken State Park, Proud Lake Recreation Area and Sterling State Park.

How will the Recreation Passport be verified?

If you purchase your Recreation Passport when renewing your license plate through the Secretary of State, the Recreation Passport is displayed as two small "P's" on the top and bottom of your license plate tab. If you purchase your Recreation Passport at a state park or recreation area, you will receive a vehicle window sticker. If you purchased a non-resident annual or daily Recreation Passport, you will receive a vehicle window sticker. Park rangers will verify Recreation Passports after island entry.

My car is registered out of state. Do I need a Recreation Passport?

Yes, your vehicle still requires a Recreation Passport. A non-Michigan registered Recreation Passport can be purchased online at or on the island at the mobile contact station on Belle Isle, located in front of the second loop connecting Sunset Drive and Picnic Way just north of the McArthur Bridge. The non-resident Recreation Passport is $31.00 or, for a daily, $9.00.

I am traveling to the island for a wedding, picnic, or special event. Do I need a Recreation Passport?

Yes, you will still need a Recreation Passport.

I already have a Metropark pass. Do I need Recreation Passport too?

Metropark passes gain access to Huron-Clinton Metroparks but not state parks such as Belle Isle Park. The Recreation Passport gains entry to all Michigan state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized trail and boat launch parking, including Belle Isle Park.

Why should I purchase a Recreation Passport if I don't plan on visiting state parks or other state recreational facilities?

Purchasing a Recreation Passport for each of your vehicles every year is investing in Michigan and ensuring its spectacular natural resources for generations to come. By checking "YES" for each of your vehicles every year you:

  • Fund outdoor recreation facilities and opportunities;
  • Fund state parks, recreation areas, state forest campgrounds, non-motorized trail heads and boat launches;
  • Support historic sites within state parks;
  • Provide grants to communities to improve neighborhood parks, such as those in Detroit;
  • Stimulate hundreds of millions in economic impact for local communities from tourism, including businesses in your hometown;
  • Contribute to local economies near state parks, state forests, trails and boating facilities;
  • Attract new businesses and jobs to the state;
  • Enhance the quality of life for Michigan's residents;
  • Assist in the revitalization of Michigan and;
  • Protect our natural resources for generations to come.

What do I do if I have a non-annually renewed license plate?

Not all vehicles will be able to renew through the SOS. There are several factors for this. They do not renew their plates on an annual basis or they cannot apply for the recreation passport (school buses).

In these circumstances, the window sticker (Recreation Passport sold right at state parks and recreation areas) will be issued to allow participation for these vehicles on an annual basis.

These vehicles include:

  • Historical/Authentic Vehicles
  • Dealer Plate
  • Disabled Veteran Plate (MCL 257.803f)
  • Moped - street legal (MCL 257.801e, every
  • three years)
  • Temporary Plates (30 or 60 days)
  • Tribal Plates
  • School Buses
  • Veteran's plate

Where can I learn more about the Recreation Passport?

Visit and click on "Frequently Asked Questions."


I want to host an event on Belle Isle or rent the Casino or Flynn Pavilion. Who do I contact?

To rent the Casino or Flynn Pavilion, contact Darlisa Rickman at the Department of Natural Resources at (313) 618-2870 or

How do I make a shelter reservation?

Shelter reservation can be made by using the Department of Natural Resources Central Reservation System (CRS) by internet or phone. The CRS manages state park camping, lodging, shelter and harbor reservations. CRS-managed shelter reservations can be made for dates up to one year in advance. Log onto or call 1-800-44-PARKS. If assistance is needed, visitors can travel in-person to the Belle Isle Park Administrative Office located at the White House on Inselruhe Avenue across from the Belle Isle Aquarium, open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. A Belle Isle staff member can assist in making that reservation using the CRS while you're there.

I'm attending an event on the island. Do I need a Recreation Passport?

Yes, you need a Recreation Passport for island entry.


Are there security patrols on the island?

Yes, security patrols on Belle Isle - conducted by the DNR's Law Enforcement Division conservation officers in conjunction with Michigan State Police troopers - are occurring around the clock year-round to provide public safety.


What are park hours?

Park hours are 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. Patrons attending special events that end after 10 p.m. are asked to immediately leave the island at the conclusion of the event.

Is alcohol allowed in the park?

The DNR has adopted the city of Detroit rules for the island which prohibit alcohol consumption except by permit for special events and shelter reservations. Contact the park supervisor at 1-844-BELLE-PK (1-844-235-5375) to apply for a permit.

Will the fountain be running again in 2015?

Yes, the Scott Memorial Fountain will be running again from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Will the giant slide be in operation again in 2015?

Yes, the giant slide will be operated again by Department of Natural Resources park rangers from 11 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday from mid-June through September 30. The cost is $1 per slide or $5 for six slides. All money generated from the giant slide will go right back into Belle Isle improvements.

How many restrooms will be open this summer?

During the winter and early spring, there are two restrooms open during park hours; the Bus Stop restroom and the outdoor Casino restroom. They remain open during the winter because they are able to be heated. During the warmer months, 12 of the 17 public restrooms are open on the island. Work is being done on the remaining restrooms with the goal of opening them soon.

What is the island speed limit?

The speed limit on the island on all roads is 25 m.p.h.

Can I drive my off-road vehicle (ORV) on Belle Isle?

No, for safety reasons, ORVs are prohibited at all state parks, including on Belle Isle Park.

Are food concessionaires available in the park?

Yes, from June through Labor Day, food concessionaires are in the park, offering many different food and drink choices. The vendors are located throughout the island.

I'd like to bike, kayak, canoe or snowshoe in the park. Can I do this?

Yes, beginning in 2015, there are watersport, bike and snowshoe rentals available. Visit the Flynn Pavilion, located near intersection of Picnic Way and Loiter Way, for rentals beginning in June. The canals will also be accessible for canoing and kayaking beginning in June.


What is the Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee?

The Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee was established as an advisory committee of seven members in the lease between the City of Detroit and the state. The committee, as outlined in the lease, consists of three representatives appointed by the governor; one representative appointed by Detroit City Council; two representatives appointed by the mayor of the city; and one representative to serve as chair jointly appointed by the governor and mayor. The lease states that at least three members of the advisory committee must be residents of the city of Detroit. The chair of the committee, along with the DNR, will provide an annual report about the park to Detroit's mayor and City Council.

Who serves on the committee?

The following individuals serve on the advisory committee:

  • Michele Hodges, chair, Grosse Pointe Park, appointed jointly by the governor and mayor
  • Bryan C. Barnhill, II, Detroit, appointed by the governor
  • Michael Curis, Grosse Pointe Shores, appointed by the governor
  • Rev. Lonnie Peek, Jr., Detroit, appointed by the governor
  • Bud Denker, Bloomfield Hills, appointed by the mayor
  • Alicia Minter, Detroit, appointed by the mayor
  • Sommer Woods, Detroit, appointed by the Detroit City Council

Learn more about the advisory committee, its members and meeting dates at,4570,7-153-65134_67332---,00.html .

Can I attend a committee meeting?

Yes, advisory committee meetings are open to the public. There is also public comment opportunities at the meetings.


Why shouldn't visitors continue the practice of emptying their burning charcoal from picnic grills at the base of trees?

On Belle Isle, a large numbers of trees have been unknowingly injured by the local practice of emptying burning charcoal from picnic grills at the base of living trees. The hot coals kill the growing cambium layer of the tree's trunk and roots. Eventually the damage will compromise the structural integrity of the tree. Many of the hazard trees being removed were damaged by repeated exposure to burning charcoal.

What are the roles of the City of Detroit, the DNR, the Belle Isle Conservancy and other state and partner organizations?

The City of Detroit maintains ownership of Belle Isle while the DNR assumes park management under a 30-year lease term with the option of two 15-year renewals. The Michigan Department of Transportation assumes responsibility for roads and bridges on Belle Isle. The Michigan State Police, in conjunction with DNR Law Enforcement Division conservation officers, patrol Belle Isle for public safety. The Belle Isle Conservancy, Belle Isle Park Advisory Committee and many other organizations continue to partner with the DNR to revitalize the island park.

When did Belle Isle become a state park?

Belle Isle Park - which retains its name - became Michigan's 102nd state park on Feb. 10, 2014 when the DNR assumed management of the island park.

How does state management of Belle Isle benefit Detroit?

Revitalizing Belle Isle - one of Detroit's most iconic locations - is one key to revitalizing the city. The lease agreement paves the way for a clean, safe park environment and will enhance Belle Isle for citizens of Detroit and the entire state. This move will save Detroit much-needed funds as the city emerges from financial crisis and will generate economic development and neighborhood revitalization that is core to Detroit's comeback. A revitalized Belle Isle will potentially draw new residents - including young people - to downtown Detroit.

What is the lease term?

The initial term of the lease is 30 years, with the option to extend for two additional 15-year periods. The lease can be amended at any time under agreement of the state and City of Detroit. The state will continue to work with the City of Detroit to perfect the lease over time. The city and state can end the lease at any time by mutual agreement. One year prior to the end of the 30-year lease period, the city or the state can terminate the lease by providing written notice. The same option will be available one year prior to the end of each subsequent 15-year period. The city or state can terminate the lease for cause if the other party fails to fulfill the terms of the lease. The state will provide the mayor and Detroit City Council annual reports, updating them on management of the park.

Will the state get to keep money generated from Belle Isle?

Park revenue from permit fees, rental fees, special events, grants, endowments and other sources that derive from Belle Isle will be placed in a special sub-account in the Department of Natural Resources State Park Improvement Fund to administer, maintain and improve Belle Isle Park. This does not include Recreation Passport revenue. The balance of that sub-account will transfer to the city upon termination of the lease.