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. Those who use WI's van transportation can expect to return to Minneapolis in the evening.
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: This trip is recommended for families with children of all abilities who are age 5 and older. Voyageurs National Park is still very wild, but also one of our more accessible adventures. You will travel in 24-foot cedar strip Voyageur 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 7 to 15 participants, plus 2 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. WI staff will assist you in whatever areas you need, however most people pitch in where they can.
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.
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 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.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. You can take your own transportation or use WI’s van transportation from Minneapolis. By car, it is 6.5 hours north of Minneapolis, and 4 hours from Cloquet, MN. Most people meet us in Minneapolis at WI Headquarters at 7:30 AM on the first day of the trip for shuttle service. The shuttle returns to Minneapolis around 7:30 PM. 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 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 50% less than the adult rate on all family trips. Click here to see a list of our available 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.
I am riding in the Wilderness Inquiry van to the trip starting point. Where can I park my car?
Wilderness Inquiry has no participant parking available in our lot. We recommend you make arrangements to be dropped off and picked up at WI. If you are unable to make a drop off/pick up arrangement, you can park your car near WI for $5-10/day. Long-term street parking is not available.
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