Voyageurs National Park shares several things in common with Isle Royale National Park. Both share a similar northwoods ecosystem. Both have water as a major component of the park. Both are the closest national park to each other.
Where as Isle Royale is mostly wilderness, Voyageurs is very much recreational park which allows motorboats and fishing. In fact, there are still several resorts on the lake which are throwbacks to before the park was established in 1975.
Voyageurs is about a 5 hour drive from Minneapolis or a 10-30 minute drive from International Falls, MN, depending on which visitor center you go to.
The best way to visit the park is probably by kayak or canoe. There are many campsites around the park as well as trails used to portage your canoe.
If you visit the park without a boat, then I highly suggest taking the Kettle Falls tour. This is a 5.5 hour boat tour run by the park service which takes you through the park to Kettle Falls. Kettle Falls is the location of a hotel which was built in the early 1900’s and is one of the few places where you can stand in the US and look south into Canada!
Given the odd nature of the border with the US and Canada in this area, you will almost certainly technically cross into Canada briefly on the way to Kettle Falls.
Unlike the really popular national parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, the visitors here were almost all American. This is truly one of the hidden gems in the national park system.
Activities in Voyageurs National Park
There are plenty of activities to enjoy during your visit to Voyageurs National Park. Whether you visit during the winter or other times of the year, you can explore these ideas:
Camping: There are plenty of campsites inside the park that are also managed by the National Park Service. However, these campsites are accessible via boat only. These campsites range from tents, day-use, or houseboat sites. Therefore, you can choose according to the type of camping experience that you prefer. All guests are required to obtain a permit before an overnight stay at the park’s campsites.
Boating: Due to the number of lakes within Voyageurs National Park, boating is one of the favorite activities by tourists who visit this area. You can explore the lakes and islands within the park using motorboats, canoes, and kayaks. You can rent these equipment from the park.
Hiking: For a park that is rich in natural resources, Voyageurs National Park is also a haven for hikers. There are more than 50 miles of hiking trails in the park. Most of these trails are located on the mainland. However, there are also hiking trails on the interior peninsula.
Fishing: If you are a fishing enthusiast, this is one activity that you will get to enjoy in Voyageurs National Park. You can explore both the large and small lakes for the opportunity to catch lake trout, bluegill, and largemouth bass.
Snowmobiling: During winter months, this is a popular activity for tourists within the park. There are plenty of snowmobile trails available such as The Voyaguer Trail, The Rainy Lake Trail, The Kettle Falls Trail, and more.
Points of Interest
When planning your itinerary to Voyageurs National Park, you can add these points of interest for the places to see:
- Anderson Bay
- Kettle Falls Hotel
- Rainy Lake City
- Harry Oveson Fish Camp
- Surveyor’s Island
- Camp Marston