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Do you love communing with nature as a form of relaxation? Are you looking for the perfect weekend getaway? These are the best things to do in Voyageurs National Park.
Located in Northern Minnesota close to the Canadian border, The Voyageurs National Park is an attraction for those who love to explore nature.
This magnificent park in Minnesota comprises 134,000 acres of boreal forest, 84,000 acres of water, 30 lakes, and roughly 1000 islands. Exceptional, isn’t it? From camping to houseboats and northern lights, these are just a few of the best things to do in Voyageurs National Park.
In this article, we’ll summarize the best things to do in Voyageurs National Park. This will also serve as your guide to help you make the most of your trip to this fascinating attraction.
If you’ve already been to the place and are looking for new fun things to do, then this article is just you, too! Keep reading to find out!
- Things to Do in Voyageurs National Park:
- 1. Admire the Ellsworth Rock Garden.
- 2. See the Grassy Bay Cliffs.
- 3. Spot the park’s wildlife at the Gold Portage.
- 4. Go fishing!
- 5. Enjoy the view at Junction Bay Falls.
- 6. Watch the sunset at Kabetogama Lake.
- 7. See the Northern Lights.
- 8. Stop at the Kettle Falls Hotel.
- 9. Boat Tours
- 10. Go camping!
- 11. Canoeing at the Park.
- 12. Cruising.
- 13. Houseboating.
- 14. Hiking.
- 15. Enjoy the winter activities.
- Final Thoughts
Things to Do in Voyageurs National Park:
1. Admire the Ellsworth Rock Garden.
Address: Kabetogama, MN 56669, United States
Also known as the Showplace of Lake Kabetogama. Ellsworth Rock Garden is a spectacular garden full of artwork made of stone. The stones are monoliths, and pieces of artwork stand on top of another stone.
The self-taught artist who created this rock garden used natural elements of the northern Minnesota landscape as his landscape medium. The Ellsworth Rock Garden comprises 62 terraces of flower beds filled with 13,000 lilies and other varieties. Incredible.
What’s more amazing is a man has done the artwork for 20 years since the 1940s. The US National Park Service then took over to restore this beautiful rock garden to its former glory.
This incredible rock garden is indeed a representation of a man’s determination and hard work. The Ellsworth Rock Garden is located in Lake Kabetogama and is accessible by boat from the Lake Kabetogama Visitor Center.
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2. See the Grassy Bay Cliffs.
Address: Crane Lake Township, MN 55725, USA
The Grassy Bay Cliffs are located in the southeast part of the Voyageurs National Park. The cliff rises 125 feet above the surface of Sand Point Lake.
It looks prettier during fall when surrounded by brilliant autumn reds and yellows. The lake and its rock formation were formed over 2.5 billion years ago.
You can access the Grassy Bay Cliffs by boat and snowmobile during winter. It’s also an ideal place for taking stunning pictures. So, show ‘em your photography skills!
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3. Spot the park’s wildlife at the Gold Portage.
Address: Kabetogama, MN 56669, United States
If you like to see bears, moose, foxes, and even wolves, you’ve got to visit the Gold Portage. Located in Black Bay on Rainy Lake, the Gold Portage Wildlife Management Area (WMA) consists of 24 northern boreal forests and 776 acres of wetland.
This is the perfect place in the park to watch the different exotic wildlife, such as American black ducks, bald eagles, great blue herons, double-crested cormorants, and some mammals.
For the best experience, you should access this terrific wildlife area by boat or canoe. Also, you should check the Voyageurs National Park travel guide to know the best spot for wildlife sightseeing.
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4. Go fishing!
If you’re curious how Voyageurs National Park is on the water, fishing is something that you can do. You can catch it for eating or just for sports.
The clear water provides ample opportunities for fishing. You can fish for trophy-sized walleye, muskie, bass, and northern pike. The Namakan is known for its northern pike.
Here are some of the perfect spots for fishing in Voyageur National Park:
- Anderson Bay
- Harry Oveson’s Fish Camp
- Grassy Bay Cliffs
- Hoist Bay
- Camp Marston
If you’re not so lucky, you can head to the accommodation of Kettle Falls Hotel to grab a bite. One more thing… Always keep in mind to fish responsibly and be sure to follow the National Park Service and Minnesota DNR rules regarding fishing rules.
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5. Enjoy the view at Junction Bay Falls.
Junction Bay is located at the southwestern corner of Namakan Lake. The Johnson River flows into Namakan Lake in a series of waterfalls known as the Junction Bay Falls.
The falls are raging with red maples and golden aspens during autumn. The place is definitely a perfect spot for sightseeing.
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6. Watch the sunset at Kabetogama Lake.
Kabetogama Lake is one of the best spots for watching the sunset. It is one of the top 10 winners in the category for best national park location for best sunrise/sunset.
The lake features some of the world’s most terrific waterways that look even more amazing with polychromatic autumn foliage. No wonder watching the sunset in this beautiful spot is on everyone’s bucket list!
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7. See the Northern Lights.
The most spectacular light show in the world is visible in the Voyageur night sky. If you get lucky, you’ll see how the northern lights glimmer on the horizon right before your eyes at any time of the day. You don’t have to go to Norway, Iceland, or Alaska to witness northern lights in all their glory.
The best time to see the northern lights is during fall and winter, but you may be able to see it anytime. Here are a few tips for northern light watchers over Voyageur National Park:
- Check the Aurora Forecast.
- Check the weather forecast to ensure the sky is clear.
- Look for the aurora when the moon is set. Ensure the sky is dark, as the moon can obscure the northern lights.
- No artificial lights.
- Find a spot with an open view of the horizon. The Ash River and Rainy Lake Visitor Center are where you should consider watching the northern lights.
- Stay up all night. Northern lights will appear any time of the night.
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8. Stop at the Kettle Falls Hotel.
Address: 12977 Chippewa Trail, Kabetogama, MN 56669, USA
While touring the lakes and islands at the Voyageurs National Park, stop at the historic Kettle Falls Hotel for refreshments and snacks. The Kettle Falls Hotel has been welcoming guests and tourists since 1913, and many people consider it an unofficial symbol of the park.
It is a historic wilderness hotel listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1976. The Kettle Falls is located at the park’s center and only accessible by water. Also, the Kettle Falls Hotel rents out boats, canoes, and kayaks to their guests, so you can explore anytime you feel like it.
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9. Boat Tours
The Voyageurs National Park is a massive area; the only way to enjoy the place is to get on the water. Boat tours usually depart from Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center and Rainy Lake, offered by the National Park Service, with five cruises ranging from 1.5 to 6.5 hours.
The tour includes a visit to the Ellsworth Rock Garden, Kettle Falls, Harry Oveson’s Fish Camp, and also a trip to the gold mining ruins of Little American Island.
You’ll hear the commentaries from the tour guide as you visit each site. It is important to check out the tickets for the boat tours in advance because limited seats and cruises fill up quickly.
You can get a reservation via the government reservation system. Also, you’ll be accompanied by a licensed coast guard along the trip to ensure safety.
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10. Go camping!
Camping is also one of the many things to do in Voyageurs National Park. Your trip to this magnificent place will not be complete without communing with nature on a campsite.
It’s an excellent place to relax while enjoying the beautiful lake view while enjoying a cup of hot coffee. Voyageurs National Park camping sites offer tent pads, fire rings, food lockers, picnic tables, and outhouses.
The park has 127 frontcountry and 14 backcountry campsites. Front country campsites are accessible via water, and backcountry campsites through hiking and canoeing. Here are some of the camping sites in Voyageurs National Park:
- Kabetogama Lake Group Campsite
- The Pines of Kabetogama Resort
- Echo Lake
- Big Falls City
- Crane Lake Primitive Campgrounds
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11. Canoeing at the Park.
Canoeing is another adventure you can try while making the most of your visit to the Voyageurs National Park. With a few portages, 30 lakes, and islands, canoeing is definitely perfect for exploring the place.
You’ll see different wildlife, such as birds, turtles, and big animals like bears and moose, without disturbing them while canoeing. Don’t worry about equipment; you can rent one from the outfitters near the park. You can also bring your own.
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The wide-open and deep lakes at Voyageurs National Park provide ample space to navigate your boat, making it perfect for those who love cruising. One popular thing to do while cruising is to stop at the Kettle Falls Hotel for lunch after your morning sail.
Bear in mind the lake is huge and tricky and can be challenging to navigate. You can get lost quite easily as some terrains look the same. It is strongly suggested to have a GPS with a map for an enhanced experience and to stay on the radar.
Moreover, the Kettle Falls Sunset Cruise Tours also offer cruising services daily, departing from the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center. You can enjoy your snacks and drinks while onboard, too!
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If you don’t like sleeping in a tent and want comfort, renting a houseboat is an excellent idea. You can rent a houseboat on Voyageurs National Park equipped with hot and cold running water, a fridge, a full kitchen, an air conditioning unit, hot tubs, and a television.
You can choose from the most basic to luxurious houseboats and book them online in advance. Voyageur houseboat rental ranges from $365 to $1700 with a $500 deposit. The rental price varies depending on the amenities and floor size.
You should purchase the Voyageurs National Park map for the houseboat site to view the park’s most up-to-date campsites, houseboats, and day-use sites.
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The Voyageurs National Park is a beautiful park to visit, for it has 55 miles of trail, providing excellent hiking opportunities for people who love outdoor sports.
Some hiking sites accessible by car include Sullivan Bay, Echo Bay, Blind Ash, Oberholtzer, Rainy Lake Recreation Trail, and the multi-day Kab-Ash Odyssey.
The Locator and Cruiser Lake trails are water-accessible on Kabetogama, while the Black Bay and Anderson Bay hiking trails are accessible on Rainy Lake. Also, the best lake trail can be found on Namakan Lake.
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15. Enjoy the winter activities.
The Minnesota weather is ideal for winter activities such as ice fishing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. A plowed ice road is a popular form of transport on Rainy Lake and Kabetogama Lake. The road is used by anglers to get out on the lake for fishing.
An interesting adventure for everyone indeed! Here’s the list of other winter activities that you can enjoy in Voyageurs National Park:
- Explore Voyageur by Ice Road.
- Winter Camping
Be sure to plan your activities so you can see everything you want to see in Voyageurs!
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In summary, you won’t run out of things to do in Voyageurs National Park. There’s always an activity waiting for you, whether you love land or water sports. It is important to plan the trip for you to explore and see what you want to see.
Go online or ask friends to guide you further while planning the trip. Visiting the park is indeed an interesting adventure. Kids and adults love it.
It’s such a relaxing place and a perfect weekend getaway for everyone. The scenic view, wildlife, and many fascinating features of Voyageurs will keep you returning to this magnificent place. The massive landmass and its picture-perfect view can definitely make you feel relaxed after a long weekend at work.
- About the Author
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Kyle Kroeger is the Founder and Owner of ViaTravelers.com. He is a full-time traveler and entrepreneur. Kyle started ViaTravelers.com to help travelers experience a fully immersive cultural experience as he did initially living in Italy. He’s a converted finance nerd and Excel jockey turned world wanderer (and may try to get lost on purpose). After visiting 12 countries and 13 national parks in a year, he was devoted to creating and telling stories like he’d heard.
Plus, after spending more time on airplanes and packing, he’s learned some incredible travel hacks over time as he earned over 1 million Chase Ultimate Rewards points in under a year, helping him maximize experiences as much as possible to discover the true meaning of travel.
He loves listening to local stories from around the world and sharing his experiences traveling the globe. He loves travel so much that he moved from his hometown of Minneapolis to Amsterdam with his small family to travel Europe full-time.