Voyageurs National Park is the less heralded but no less spectacular wilderness destination of northern Minnesota. With some of Minnesota’s largest lakes, we are able to operate multi-day canoe trips without the portaging associated with Boundary Waters trips. Relive the early explorer experience aboard our sturdy Voyageur canoes. Camp along the lake shores and witness starry nights like you’ve never seen before.
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About the AreaNamed after the hardy French-Canadian canoe men of the fur trade from the late-17th to early-19th centuries, Voyageurs National Park beckons to present-day explorers as it once did to the voyageurs. From the serenity and beauty of the landscape to the brilliance of the Northern Lights and the loon’s call penetrating the morning silence, Voyageurs is an unforgettable destination.
Voyageurs National Park is Minnesota’s only National Park. Located on the international Canadian border adjacent to the Province of Ontario, Voyageurs National Park lies along the border immediately to the west of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Authorized by Congress in 1971, the park was officially established in 1975. Nearly 40% of its 218,054 acres is water, much of that in the four largest lakes: Rainy Lake, Kabetogama Lake, Namakan Lake, and Sand Point Lake. Voyageurs also includes over 500 islands and more than 650 miles of shoreline. Smaller lakes also abound in Voyageurs, but even on the big lakes silence and solitude can be found amid the great natural beauty.The voyageurs traveled extensively throughout the region trading with native people and establishing water routes for the fur trade, the same routes traced by adventurous people today. Unlike most National Parks, visitors to Voyageurs travel primarily by watercraft like their French-Canadian predecessors.
Located at the southern part of the Canadian Shield, Voyageurs National Park contains some of the oldest exposed rock formations in the World. Dated at nearly 3 billion years old, this rock forms the foundation for the region’s topography. Glaciers also had a significant impact on the region as they scraped bedrock and carved depressions that filled with water, creating the lakes, ponds, and streams that the voyageurs later navigated.
American Indians inhabited this region for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of the Voyageurs. Evidence of Dakota (or Sioux), who had established campsites near wild-rice beds, has been discovered within the boundaries of the Park. The Ojibwa (Chippewa, or Anishinabe) people eventually drove out the Dakota nation and, in time, established a working relationship with the fur traders. The voyageurs traded trade goods (sometimes including alcohol) and firearms for valuable beaver pelts and native knowledge of canoe-building and navigation routes. This partnership finally ended in the mid-19th century when the beaver population was hunted to near extinction and fur hats were no longer as fashionable.
As the fur trade era began to decline in the nineteenth century, the lumber industry took hold. From the 1880s to the 1920s the area was subject to extensive logging and resulting deforestation. In 1913, the Kettle Falls Hotel was built to house the region’s lumberjacks and was vacated in the early 1920s as the logging industry moved west. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Kettle Falls Hotel is the most visible remaining evidence of this earlier era and one of a few developed sites within this vast wilderness park.
Many people have recognized the charm and beauty of Voyageurs through the years. As early as 1891, the Minnesota Legislature petitioned the President to create a national park in this same area. It took another 80 years to authorize Voyageurs National Park, but conservationists struggled to protect the natural beauty of the area throughout that time.
Visitors to Voyageurs can enjoy the pine-clad forests and exposed glaciated bedrock; wildlife like moose, wolves, and black bears; bald eagles, common loons, and over 20 species of wood warblers; and fish like walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth and largemouth bass. Canoeing is a must in the massive chain of lakes that boasts clear waters and starry nights. Our guides will take you to their favorite local spots along your voyage.
Camping in the park is a must-do for all outdoor enthusiasts. Most sites are remote in the back-country, which are only accessible by boat. Expect limited amenities in the back-country.Read more »