Voyageurs National Park

Access more than 500 islands by boat and explore this park’s seemingly endless miles of shoreline under the clear skies of northern Minnesota.

Voyageurs National Park has more than 655 miles (1,054 kilometers) of shoreline. Much of the park, including the large Kabetogama Peninsula, is best accessed by watercraft: canoe, sailboat, motorboat, even houseboat. Pack in supplies and find your own island for wilderness exploration.

Wildlife abounds in the park. Furry otters frequently play near the Kabetogama Visitor Center. As you glide near the shoreline in a canoe, watch for moose, black bear and beaver coming for a drink of water. Listen to the eerie song of loons and gaze up at bald eagles soaring overhead. Fish for walleye, northern pike, lake trout and smallmouth bass. Your watery paths follow those of the French-Canadian voyageurs who boated through the area gathering beaver pelts for the making of fur hats.  

The park encourages visitors to “Hike to Health” on its 15 trails. Pick up information from a visitor center. Practice outdoor navigation skills with the GPS Scavenger Hunt.

As you hike, you’ll pass through mixed forests of spruce, fir, pines, oaks and maples. Gather wild raspberries, blueberries, strawberries and thimbleberries to make camp jam. Stay at the hike-in or boat-in campsites. At night enjoy stargazing in the clear skies and stay up late to look for the shimmering colors of the aurora borealis. 

Ellsworth Rock Garden is one of the park’s highlights, with 52 terraced levels of plantings and more than 150 eclectic sculptures of stacked rocks. Come to this fascinating spot simply to enjoy the artistic designs of the garden or check with the Voyageurs National Park Association to find out what volunteer needs exist for garden or trail maintenance. 

In winter, borrow snowshoes from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. Cross-country ski on trails or snowmobile or drive on frozen lakes with 2-foot-thick (60-centimeter) ice.

Reach Voyageurs National Park by car in 20 minutes from International Falls or 4.5 hours from Minneapolis. Year-round access to the park is free. Camping and boat tours have fees.

U.S. national parks offer affordable access to mountains, lakes and streams across the country. Enjoy your visit to the watery wonderland of Voyageurs National Park.

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