Voyageurs National Park
Located: Minnesota - Established: January 8, 1971
The Park: The French word “voyageur” means traveler. To be a voyageur in this land of old rock, pristine pine and clear, dark waters meant to travel the interconnected waterways as a fur trader by boat. The European demand for beaver pelts brought a wave of entrepreneurial “voyageurs” to this region in the late 1600’s.
Located in the northern section of the “Land of Ten Thousand Lakes” (Minnesota), the majority of activities at Voyageurs center on the four largest lakes: Rainy Lake, Kabetogama Lake, Namakan Lake and Sand Point Lake.
Getting there: Voyagers is accessible by car; however, to truly experience this remarkable landscape, one must park the car and hop on a boat! By automobile, Voyagers is approximately 170 miles north of Duluth, MN, adjacent to the US/Canadian border.
When to go: Like most all National Parks, Voyageurs is open all year; however, two of the three Visitors Centers do close down for the winter. Rainy Lake Visitor Center does remain open all year.
What to do: Fishing, boating, camping and hiking are all popular activities at Voyageurs. Guided boat and canoe tours are offered in the summer months and reservations are highly recommended. These tours typically begin at the three Visitor Centers.
This water-based park includes 26 interior lakes, 900 islands and 655 miles of shoreline. Needless to say, the fishing here for walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, muskellunge and crappie is superb!
In 2011, the America’s Great Outdoors Initiative (AGO) was introduced to encourage ALL Americans to share in the responsibility of protecting our country’s valuable outdoor spaces.
The goal of this Federal initiative is to reconnect its citizens with the wealth of outdoor resources we’ve all inherited. Voyageurs is participating in this initiative with its Let’s Move Outside campaign encouraging visitors to engage in outdoor activities that get the body moving and the blood pumping. After all health is the first wealth!
Hike to Health. Studies have shown that people who spend time outside are generally happier, concentrate better, and are naturally more active.
In 2014, Voyageurs National Park instituted a program encouraging people of all ages to get outside, lace up their boots and explore the grandeur of this park along one of its 9 groomed trails accessible by automobile.
For those boating about the park, there are also a number of trails that can only be accessed by water!
Where to stay: Tent camping in Voyageurs requires a boat as all campsites are only accessible by water. Once on land, there are 270 sites to choose from...all with outstanding amenities!
House boating is another way to experience Voyageurs. Houseboats are available for rent by a number of concessionaires outside the park boundaries.
Hotel accommodations can be found in nearby International Falls, MN where the Park Headquarters is located. We found a quaint and very comfortable lodge called The Pines at Kabatogama Resort.
Memorable Moment: While taking the Kettle Falls Cruise, we spotted dozens of majestic Bald Eagles; landed near a small island on Namakan Lake where, in the early 1930’s, IW Stevens built his Pine Cove Resort; docked at the Kettle Falls marina at noon; had lunch at the Kettle Falls Resort where the lodge's Lumberjack Saloon features a floor that has at least a 2-foot slope to it; hiked out to the Kettle Falls Dam where we were standing at one of a few places in the continental US where you actually look south into Canada!
Trivia: During the winter months, the lakes of Voyageurs will freeze up to two feet thick!
Banner: Sunset across Kabetogama Lake in Voyageurs National Park.
Experience these Check List:
- Visit one or all of the park's 3 Visitor Centers
- Take one of the many Boat Tours (We took the Kettle Falls Cruise)
- Hike to Health on any of the park's trails
- Ride the Kabetagama Walleye!