Paddle the path of the 18th century French-Canadian fur traders through Minnesota’s spectacular north country. Explore waterfalls, hidden coves, and scenic waterways. Listen for the cry of the loon and the howl of the timber wolf, as you glide through the crystal clear waters of north country’s big lakes. View ancient rock exposures, spectacular lake country scenery, and abundant wildlife!
ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Paddle into Kabetogama Lake before setting up camp on Bald Rock.
Your trip starts in the late afternoon at Ash River Visitor Center. Unload North canoes and gear, participate in a canoe orientation, and learn about other details necessary for a safe and fun trip. Paddle into Kabetogama Lake toward your first campsite on Bald Rock. After dinner discuss expectations for the trip around the campfire.
Day 2: Enjoy a full day of paddling before setting up camp on Cutover Island.
Get up early for breakfast, break camp, and get underway! The day may consist of a full day of paddling, crossing many miles just like the Voyageurs used to do. Paddle west past Wolf Island and out into Kabetogama Lake. Stop near Shoepack Beach for lunch. Camp on Cutover Island and spend the evening investigating your surroundings. Don't forget to look for shooting stars!
Day 3: Fish, swim, and explore the shore on this layover day.
Take a layover day in this area and enjoy the activities the park has to offer. Sit back and soak in the wilderness, take a day paddle to the Ellsworth Rock Gardens, explore the hidden trails and blueberry patches of Cutover Island, or fish from a Voyageur canoe. The evening can be spent swimming, fishing, and relaxing around camp.
Day 4: Paddle back to Bald Rock where you'll enjoy an afternoon hiking and fishing.
Paddle back to the first campsite on Bald Rock and set up camp. Explore and fish the bay from a canoe or hike to the backcountry lakes. Here you will experience seeing geology that is half as old as the world, boreal forests, and what life would have been like as a voyageur. Spend your last night in the wilderness telling tales and reliving your adventures around the fire.
Day 5: Enjoy one final paddle before saying farewell to your trip mates.
Rise early and paddle to the take-out point near the Ash River Visitor Center. The trip officially ends after lunch in the early afternoon.
Dates & Fees
What to Expect
TERRAIN/ROUTE CHOICES: The area lies on the Canadian Shield, with terrain characterized by exposed granite carved by the water and ice action of the big lakes. On the water, many islands provide protection from the wind. Voyageurs National Park offers a wide range of route options from very easy to very difficult–great for family trips.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: Voyageurs National Park is still very wild, but also one of our more accessible adventures. You will travel in 24-foot cedar strip North canoes, which hold 4-8 paddlers and a boat captain, plus all necessary gear. They are fast and stable boats, designed specifically for trips on big water. The average day’s travel consists of 3-6 hours of paddling, depending on weather conditions. Travel distances vary from 2-10 miles per day.
WEATHER: Temperatures in the summer months range from 40 F to 95 F. Rainfall can vary and you should expect at least one day of rain.
YOUR GROUP: The group size ranges from 3 to 15 participants, plus 1 or more Wilderness Inquiry staff. Each group consists of people of various ages, backgrounds, and abilities, including people with disabilities. Families can easily participate on these kid-friendly vacations. Our trips are cooperative in nature. Wilderness Inquiry staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can. This trip is recommended for families with children of all abilities who are age 10 and older.
ACCOMMODATIONS: At night you will sleep in a comfortable 4-person tent with 2-3 people (although other arrangements can be made). Bathroom facilities consist of park service outhouses.
MEALS: Enjoy preparing meals together using fresh, healthy ingredients for bountiful dishes. Rise to the smell of freshly brewed coffee to enjoy with your breakfast and pack trail lunches with hearty snacks before heading off to explore. In the evening, we’ll prepare our dinner together over stoves and campfires and then finish with s’mores. If you have special dietary restrictions, be sure to list them on your registration.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group equipment. You will need to provide your personal gear as outlined in the packing list. If you are new to outdoor activities, you do not need to spend a lot of money. Wilderness Inquiry can usually arrange for you to borrow most items.
FISHING: If interested in fishing you are expected to bring your own fishing gear. We encourage you to bring a collapsible rod and reel. Don’t forget a MN fishing license.
COVID POLICY: We continue to monitor and update our COVID-19 policies. Wilderness Inquiry strongly encourages everyone to be fully up to date with their COVID-19 vaccination and take other necessary steps for the health and wellness of all. We ask you to self-screen for any signs of illness prior to your trip’s departure. Please contact Wilderness Inquiry if you are exhibiting signs of illness. We will also continue to follow all guidance and requirements of locations that we travel, keeping in mind some international destinations do require vaccinations and/or negative covid tests. We will update this policy as new information and guidance becomes available.
SAFETY WHILE ON TRAIL: Though not required, some individuals may choose to wear a mask, and we expect all participants to respect this choice. Please ensure proper hygiene including, but not limited to, hand-washing and/or sanitizing before eating and after using the restroom. Individuals who become ill or test positive for COVID-19 during a Wilderness Inquiry experience will be isolated to the best of the group’s ability and are responsible for their own transportation and expenses to depart the trip.Read more »
Frequently Asked Questions:
Where do we meet?
Standard Meeting Places and Times
Start: Ash River Visitor Center at 2:30 PM (local time)
End: Ash River Visitor Center at 11:00 AM (local time)
This trip begins at the Ash River Visitors Center in Voyageurs National Park at 2:30 PM. The trip ends at the same location at 11:00 AM. By car, it is 6.5 hours north of Minneapolis, and 4 hours from Cloquet, MN. Detailed meeting place instructions will be sent to you when you are confirmed for the trip. Booking a Flight? We recommend flying in to the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport the night before your trip, and flying out no earlier than 10:00 PM on the last day of the trip.
Do you offer financial aid?
Yes - we believe the opportunity to enjoy the outdoors should be available to everyone. To keep our programs as financially accessible as possible, each year we raise funds to support need-based scholarships. Certain restrictions apply. Financial aid is available for a select number of trips only and typically not available for international trips. Click here to apply for financial aid. This website also shows a list of trips that are currently eligible for financial aid. Check back often, as this list is updated regularly! Call 612-676-9400 for more information.
What kind of wildlife will I see on this trip?
Northern Minnesota is home to many animals including, loons, deer, bears, moose, wolves, and more! While we can't guarantee you will see these animals on your trip, there is always a possibility of catching a glimpse (or hearing the call) of one or more of these animals in the north woods.
Will I see the northern lights in Voyageurs National Park?
While we cannot guarantee you will see the northern lights on your trip, many visitors do catch a glimpse of them every year. You can check out this northern lights forecast website a few days before your trip to see the likelihood of seeing the aurora: https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/products/aurora-3-day-forecast
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 »