Map of Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota
Voyageurs National Park in northeastern Minnesota.
Basic information for visitors to the Voyageurs National Park in northeastern Minnesota, near International Falls.
Voyageurs National Park in northeastern Minnesota, near International Falls.
Water dominates the landscape of this 218,000-acre park, nearly half of which is covered with more than 30 glacier-carved lakes. French Canadian voyageurs once traveled these waters in birch-bark canoes on their way to trade for furs, food, medicine, and guide services with the resident Native American tribes, and the "voyageurs highway" along these waters now stretches from the Great Lakes into the interior of the Pacific Northwest. Although the birch-bark canoes have all but disappeared, today the most popular park activities still include sailing, kayaking, and houseboating on lakes Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point. Bears roam the fragrant pine forests while eagles soar over the meadows by day; after dark, listen for loons and wolves. It's a place to explore scenic nature, learn about local geology, and step back into the fascinating history of the regions fur-trading economy. The park was authorized in 1971 and established in 1975.
WHAT TO SEE & DO
Canoeing, cross-country skiing, fishing, hiking, houseboating, kayaking, motorboating, picnicking, sailing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing. Facilities: 3 visitor centers: Rainy Lake (11 mi east of International Falls), Kabetogama Lake (9924 Gappa Rd./Rte. 123), and Ash River (9899 Meadwood Rd., off Rte. 129); beaches, outdoor interpretive displays. Book and map sales, picnic tables with fire grills, docks. Programs & Events: Ranger-led walks, canoe trips, boat tours (daily mid-June-Labor Day), Wild Winter Rendezvous (Jan.-Mar.), Ice Box Days (International Falls, 3rd week in Jan.), Spring Birding Rendezvous (June), Autumn Rendezvous (Kabetogama and Ash River visitor centers, Labor Day weekend). Tips & Hints: Primary access to park, campsites, and concession-run hotel-restaurant by watercraft in summer and snowmobile in winter. Visitor centers and boat tours accessible by car. Go Jan. and Feb. for snowmobiling, year-round for fishing, June for wild-flowers, May-Sept, for eagles, and mid-Sept, for fall color. Busiest July and Aug., least crowded Nov.-Apr.
FOOD, LODGING & SUPPLIES
Camping: In the park: 215 tent and houseboat sites throughout the park (free; pit toilets; permit required, see below). In Soudan Underground Mine State Park: Woodenfrog Campground (Off U.S. 169, tel. 218/753-2245; 61 sites; $10; pit toilets). H Hotels: In the park: Kettle Falls Hotel & Resort (tel. 218/374-4404, 218/875-2070, or 888/534-6835; 12 rooms, 4 suites; $70??; closed Oct.-Apr.). In International Falls: Days Inn (2331 U.S. 53 S, tel. 218/283-9441; 58 rooms; $79), Holiday Inn (1500 U.S. 71, tel. 218/283-4451; 119 rooms, 7 suites; $89-$105??). X Restaurant: In the park: Kettle Falls Hotel & Resort (tel. 218/374-4404, 218/875-2070, or 888/534-6835; $5-$14; closed Oct.-Apr.). & Groceries & Gear: None in park. In Ray: Gateway Store (9378 U.S. 53, tel. 218/875-2121). In International Falls: Loons Nest (3587 Rte. 415, tel. 218/286-5850), Outdoorsman Headquarters (1100 3rd Ave., tel. 218/283-9337).
FEES, HOURS & REGULATIONS
Free. Concession tour boats (reservations recommended, tel. 888/381-2873): $12-$33 adults, $8-$21 ages 2-15, free ages 1 and under. Park-provided boats $10 per day. North Canoe program: $4 adults, $2 ages 5-16. Camping permit required (free). No personal watercraft. Minnesota state fishing license ($9.50-$ 18 for one day) required. No hunting or trapping. No mountain bikes on trails. No off-road vehicles. Leashed pets in front country only. No pets on trails. Snowmobiles on main lakes and designated safety portages only. Park open daily. Main park inaccessible mid-Nov.-Dec. due to thin ice, Apr-early May due to thaws. Rainy Lake Visitor Center open early May-early Sept., daily 9-5; mid-Sept.-Apr., Wed.-Sun. 9^:30. Kabetogama Lake and Ash River visitor centers open early May-early Sept., daily 9-5.
HOW TO GET THERE
11 mi east of International Falls via U.S. 53, 160 mi north of Duluth via U.S. 53., and 300 mi north of Minneapolis via 1-35 and U.S. 53. Closest airport: International Falls (15 mi).
Voyageurs National Park (3131 U.S. 53 S, International Falls, MN 56649, tel. 218/283-9821; 218/875-2111 boat use on interior lakes.
Established: 1971 Acreage: 219,128
Water dominates the Voyageur National Park landscape. Within its boundaries more than 30 lakes fill glacier-carved rock basins. Between these lakes and adjacent rocky knobs and ridges extend bogs, marshes and beaver ponds. Upon arriving at one of the park's four entrances, the visitor leaves his car behind, and sets out by water much as the voyageurs travelled in the heyday of the fur trade in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Boat trips are available on Rainy, Kabetogama and Crane lakes and on Ash River.
As the fur trade expanded westward, it depended heavily upon the voyageurs, or French-Canadian canoemen, who moved the pelts and trade goods between Montreal and the Canadian Northwest. The route of these adventurers, who frequently paddled 16 hours a day, became so established that the 1783 treaty ending the American Revolution specified that the international boundary should follow their 'customary waterway' between Lake Superior and Lake of the Woods. Today, the park adjoins a 56-mile stretch of that voyageurs' highway.
Look out across the landscape here and you will notice the elements of the fur trade itself. The water provided the highway, fur-bearing animals provided the goods, and the endless forests furnished the materials for the birch-bark canoes. Nature's abundance is evident in other ways here. The park is in the heart of the only region in the continental United States where the eastern timber wolf survives. Other wild animals include moose, deer and black bear.