Paddle the path of the 18th century French-Canadian fur traders through Minnesota’s spectacular north country. Learn new paddling skills in 24-foot Voyageur canoes, and view spectacular scenery and abundant wildlife along the way. 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 the north country’s big lakes. Take a break from paddling to swim in clear waters or enjoy games and activities. In the evenings, share tales around the campfire with new friends. Voyageurs is a wonderful place for kid-friendly camping.
ItineraryExpand All Fields
Day 1: Paddle into Kabetogama Lake and settle into your first camp site.
The trip starts in the late afternoon at Ash River Visitor Center. Unload canoes and gear, participate in a canoe orientation, and learn about the original Voyageurs. Paddle into Kabetogama Lake toward your first campsite on Bald Rock. After dinner, discuss expectations for the trip around the campfire.
Day 2: Break camp and paddle toward Wold Island before stopping at Shoepack Beach for lunch and a dip in the lake.
Get up early for breakfast with great coffee, break camp, and get underway! Today consists of a full day of paddling, crossing many miles just like the Voyageurs used to. Paddle west past Wolf Island and out into the Kabetogama Lake. Stop near Shoepack Beach for lunch and a relaxing swim. Camp on Cutover Island and spend the evening investigating your surroundings while enjoying your favorite camp games.
Day 3: Paddle to the Ellsworth Rock Gardens, explore hidden trails, and swim in crystal clear waters.
Take a layover day and enjoy many fun and relaxing activities. 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: Enjoy a morning paddle back to Bald Rock followed by an afternoon exploring and fishing in the bay.
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: Rise early and enjoy one final morning 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 all people.
TYPE OF TRAVEL/DISTANCE: Voyageurs National Park is still very wild, but also one of our more accessible adventures. 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: As part of our ongoing COVID-19 safety protocols, all of our groups in 2021 will be made up of 3-15 people who know each other and have indicated they are comfortable traveling together and 1 or more Wilderness Inquiry guides. We welcome 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. WI 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 3-4 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.
FISHING: If you are 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 for anyone over the age of 16.
EQUIPMENT AND CLOTHING: Wilderness Inquiry will provide all group gear and equipment. You will be assigned the same gear for the duration of your trip and it will be sanitized between trips. 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.
HEALTH PRE-SCREENING: Upon your arrival, we will perform a health screening that will include confirming that you have no COVID-19 related symptoms (for example: fever, chills, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat) or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19 related symptoms within the last 2 weeks. We will also take each group member’s temperature daily. If COVID-19 related symptoms develop during your trip, the trip will end immediately and everyone must return home as soon as safely able.
SAFETY WHILE ON TRAIL: All participants and staff will wear masks when social distancing is not possible (i.e. loading/unloading boats, cooking, etc.) or when requested by a WI staff member. Participants will provide their own transportation to/from programming sites. Participants and staff will not share vehicles. Where available, participant groups will be assigned their own bathroom for the duration of the trip. When not possible, such as in backcountry sites, cleaning between each use will be facilitated. Thorough hand washing and/or gloves and masks will be worn during meal preparation.
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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. 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.
What is the minimum age for kids on your family trips?
There is no minimum age requirement to participate on a WI family trip. We require participants to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) at all times when on water for safety. The smallest PFD we provide for children requires a minimum weight of 30 pounds. A family with a child smaller than this weight limit would need to provide their own PFD or would be unable to participate on the trip. For family paddling trips, children should be able to sit comfortably in a canoe or kayak for 1+ hour at a time. This should guide whether or not a child would be a good fit on any particular trip.
Do you have any additional health restrictions on trail?
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.
Is there a discount on family trips?
Yes. All youth participants under the age of 18 pay 25% less than the adult rate on all family trips.
Would my teenager enjoy a family trip with WI?
There are typically both teens and younger children on our family trips. We often offer a variety of activities so that participants of all ages have an enjoyable trip!
I have a child with a disability. Would a family trip be appropriate for them?
Yes. All of our trips strive to integrate persons with and without disabilities, including children on our family trips. Call us at 612-676-9400 if you have questions. Otherwise, you can register for a family trip and we'll call you when we receive your information.
Will age-appropriate activities be offered for children on a family trip?
Yes. Your trip leaders will offer age-appropriate activities for children at different points throughout the trip. Our staff love kids and are great at making sure your whole family has a great time.
What kind of wildlife will I see on this trip?
Northern Minnesota is home to many animals including, loons, deer, beers, 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
Could the itinerary change after I sign up?
Your trip is dependent on weather. availability, and potential other unforeseen circumstances. All itineraries online are "sample" itineraries that are subject to change. Please check your confirmation packet for the most up to date information.
What is your cancellation/refund policy?
*12 weeks or more prior to the trip — we will refund fees paid minus deposit.
*Less than 12 weeks — we will refund 50% of the total trip fee, or 100% of fees paid can be transferred to a future trip.
*Less than 4 weeks — no refunds will be issued.
Our cancellation policy is based on the allocation of Wilderness Inquiry staff and resources required for your adventure upon booking. For safety and health reasons, we reserve an entire trip and resources for your small group to travel with us. Our policy, including non-refundable deposits, ensures we can continue to serve our mission long-term.
In the rare event that WI cancels your trip, all fees are immediately refunded, including the deposit. Unfortunately, we cannot be responsible for personal expenses such as airline tickets. To protect your investment in your travel plans we recommend purchasing travel insurance. Information on travel insurance is included in your trip confirmation packet.
We understand that certain circumstances such as death of a family member, change in health status, exposure to COVID-19, or loss of employment happen and we may make exceptions to our refund policies on a case by case basis. Please contact us if you have a unique circumstance and would like to discuss your situation.