Highlights of Visiting Voyageurs National Park
Here are some of the highlights and top things to do in Voyageurs National Park:
Boating and Canoeing: Explore the park’s water-based wilderness by boating or canoeing on its many lakes and rivers. The park’s unique landscape is best experienced from the water. This is the best way to see the park.
Houseboat Rentals: Rent a houseboat to truly immerse yourself in the park’s beauty. These floating cabins allow you to spend multiple days on the water, enjoying the serene surroundings. You can see some options here.
Fishing: Voyageurs National Park offers excellent fishing opportunities for species like walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass.
Hiking Trails: While the park is primarily water-based, there are some hiking trails, like the Sullivan Bay Trail and the Blind Ash Bay Trail, that offer scenic views and a chance to explore the land.
Wildlife Viewing: Keep an eye out for wildlife such as bald eagles, ospreys, beavers, and moose.
Stargazing: The park’s remote location and minimal light pollution make it an ideal spot for stargazing. We visited and only had cloudy nights so didn’t get to enjoy any of the clear skies for stargazing.
Visitor Centers: Visit the park’s visitor centers, such as the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center, to learn more about the park’s history, geology, and wildlife. These are small compared to the visitor centers at other US National Parks and far less crowded.
Ranger-Led Programs: Check the park’s schedule for ranger-led programs and guided tours, which offer insights into the park’s natural and cultural history.
Island Hopping: Explore the numerous islands within the park, each with its own unique character and opportunities for camping and picnicking. Try camping for the night on one of the many islands.
Winter Activities: In the winter, the park offers opportunities for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice fishing. The frozen lakes create a unique winter wonderland.
Camping: There are both frontcountry and backcountry camping options available in the park. Camping on the shores of the lakes allows for a truly immersive experience.
Relaxation: Sometimes the best thing to do in Voyageurs National Park is simply to relax, unwind, and enjoy the peaceful and remote atmosphere of this wilderness area.
Remember to check with the park’s visitor centers or website for current conditions, permits, and any seasonal activities or closures before planning your trip to Voyageurs National Park.
Essential Guide to Voyageurs
Things to Know About Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park, nestled in the pristine wilderness of northern Minnesota, is a unique destination. Encompassing approximately 218,000 acres of natural beauty, the park is renowned for its interconnected waterways, crystal-clear lakes, and lush forests.
This park is very quiet and remote compared to many other parks. While it is possible to explore parts of the park by driving or hiking, the best way to see this park is by boat. Consider renting a boat or taking a tour to get the most out of this large park.
With its remote and serene atmosphere, Voyageurs National Park offers a true escape into the heart of nature, making it a must-visit destination for outdoor enthusiasts, wildlife lovers, and anyone seeking a peaceful retreat in the great outdoors.
Best Time to Visit Voyaguers National Park
Every season has something to offier in Voyageurs National Park, but the best time for most people to visit Voyageurs is during the summer (June-Sept) when the temperatures are a bit warmer. Below is what you can expect in every season
Summer (June to August): Summer is the most popular time to visit Voyageurs National Park. The weather is generally warm, and the lakes are perfect for boating, canoeing, kayaking, and fishing. The park’s hiking trails are also accessible, and the lush greenery is at its peak. Wildlife is active, making it an excellent time for wildlife viewing. However, keep in mind that this is the busiest season, so campsite and lodging reservations should be made well in advance.
Fall (September to October): Fall is a beautiful time to visit the park as the foliage changes colors, creating stunning landscapes of red, orange, and gold. The weather remains pleasant for outdoor activities like hiking and boating, and there are fewer crowds compared to the summer months. Late fall can be cold.
Winter (December to February): Winter in Voyageurs National Park offers a serene and snowy wonderland. While most of the park’s water-based activities are not available, it’s a great time for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. The frozen lakes are a unique and picturesque sight, and if you’re lucky, you might catch the Northern Lights.
Spring (March to May): Spring can be a bit unpredictable in terms of weather, with melting snow and changing ice conditions on the lakes. This is probably the worst time to visit the park although there are still opportunities for exploring. However, it’s a quieter time to visit, and as the ice begins to melt, you can witness the transition from winter to spring. Wildlife starts becoming more active, and early spring can be a good time for birdwatching.
How to Get to Voyaguers
Voyageurs National Park is accessible primarily by road and water, given its unique water-based terrain. The most common entry points are the towns of International Falls and Kabetogama, Minnesota, both of which offer road access to the park – you can see more about these different parts of the park below.
From these towns, visitors can reach various park destinations by car and boat. For those interested in houseboating or exploring the park’s interior lakes and islands, rental services are available within the park, making it convenient to access the pristine waters and wilderness that define Voyageurs National Park.
- International Falls: This is often considered the gateway to Voyageurs National Park. International Falls has a regional airport (Falls International Airport) that provides air access to the area. Visitors can use International Falls as a starting point for their journey into the park.
- Kabetogama: Located near the southern edge of the park, Kabetogama is a small community with a marina and services for park visitors. It’s a common starting point for those exploring the Kabetogama Lake area.
- Rainy Lake: The Rainy Lake Visitor Center, situated on the shores of Rainy Lake, serves as an information center for the park and is a popular entry point for visitors exploring the eastern portion of the park. Rainy Lake offers numerous opportunities for boating and fishing.
- Ash River: Ash River is another access point to the park, providing access to the central and western portions of the park. The Ash River Visitor Center is located here, offering information and services for visitors. This is where we chose to visit and explore from.
- Crane Lake: Crane Lake is a gateway to the western part of the park, and it offers access to Sand Point Lake and Crane Lake. It’s a starting point for boating and exploring the western islands and waters of the park.
Where to Stay in Voyageurs NP
You have several options fo places to stay depending on what part of the park you are visiting. If you have the time, it is worth planning to spend a few days camping in Voyageurs. You will need to reserve a campsite in advance. You can do this through the National Park Site.
You can also find many places to stay that are cabins or lodges that can be reached via car. We stayed in Arrowhead Lodge and had a great visit before renting boats to go camp on the islands.
You can also find more hotel style places to stay in International Falls. The options below all get top reviews:
Below is a summary of some of the top things you need to know about visiting Voyageurs National Park
- Water-Based Wilderness: Voyageurs National Park is primarily a water-based wilderness area, known for its interconnected lakes and rivers. Be prepared for water-related activities like boating, canoeing, and kayaking.
- Remote Location: The park is located in northern Minnesota, near the Canadian border, and some areas are quite remote. Plan your trip carefully, as services and amenities may be limited, especially in the park’s interior.
- Seasonal Variations: The best time to visit depends on your interests. Summer offers water activities, fall boasts vibrant foliage, winter features snow-based activities, and spring transitions from ice to warmer weather.
- Wildlife Viewing: Voyageurs is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts. Look out for bald eagles, moose, beavers, and a variety of bird species. Respect wildlife and maintain a safe distance.
- Camping: There are both frontcountry and backcountry camping options, including houseboats. Reservations are recommended, especially during peak summer months.
- Permits: Check if you need permits for camping, boating, or fishing. Permits can be obtained from the park’s visitor centers or online.
- Gear and Supplies: Plan ahead and bring all necessary gear, including food and camping equipment. There are limited stores within the park.
- Visitor Centers: Make use of the park’s visitor centers, such as the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and Ash River Visitor Center, for maps, information, and ranger-led programs to enhance your experience.