Tourism and Tours

Voyageurs National Park | A land of water, sky, and wilderness

Voyageurs National Park is an American national park in northern Minnesota near the city of International Falls established in 1975. The park’s name commemorates the voyageurs—French-Canadian fur traders who were the first European settlers to frequently travel through the area. Notable for its outstanding water resources, the park is popular with canoeists, kayakers, other boaters, and fishermen. The Kabetogama Peninsula, which lies entirely within the park and makes up most of its land area, is accessible only by boat. To the east of the park lies the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The park has several boat ramps and visitor centers on its periphery, though the main body of the park is only accessible by boat or, in the winter, by snowmobile, ski, or snowshoe. In 2018, the park hosted 239,656 visitors.

Details About Voyageurs National Park

Location: Northern Minnesota

Established: April 18, 1975

Size: 218,200 acres

Visitors: 232,974 (2020)

Entrance Fees: FREE

Cell Service

Cell Service is hit or miss throughout the park. The visitors centers  have service and most places with roads do. Rainy Lake has some coverage, but as you go east on the other lakes coverage is rare.

Dry Bags

Dry bags are an essential Voyageurs item keeping wallets, phones, etc nice and dry in a very wet park. We used / loved this dry bag.

Map

Map: The best map for Voyageurs is this one which we carried with us everywhere.

Best Time to Visit

Best Time to Visit Voyageurs National Park is in the Fall. The bustle of summer fishing and house boating is long gone and the park’s shores and trails are ablaze with magnificent autumn reds, yellows, and oranges. Fall is a feast for the eyes at Voyageurs, but be quick as it’s also very short in this coldest area of the continental U.S.

Where is Voyageurs National Park?

Voyageurs National Park is located in the Northernmost region of Minnesota, straddling the Canadian border.

The park is about 275 miles north of Minneapolis, about 4 and a half hours driving. Voyageurs National Park lies adjacent to Superior National Forest and the renowned Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

Getting to the Park – Directions & Location

There are a few ways to access the park from different directions.

Closest Airport: INL – Falls International Airport (International Falls, MN)

The fastest way to get to Voyageurs National Park is by flying into Falls International Airport in International Falls, which basically puts you at the park’s doorstep.

Flights into International Falls can be hard to come by and are typically on the spendier side with rental car options also being limited.

Of course the proximity can’t be beat as it’s just a few minutes drive from the airport to the nearest part of the park at Rainy Lake.

Minneapolis to Voyageurs National Park

Getting to the park from Minneapolis requires a bit of a drive, but takes you through some scenic country.

I recommend renting a car from the airport and driving to International Falls (roughly 300 miles from the airport) where dining and lodging is easy to come by. The drive takes a little over 4 hours without traffic.

Duluth to Voyageurs National Park

Another option is flying into Duluth and making the 3 hour drive northwest to the park.

This route can sometimes make more sense depending on where you’re coming from and what airline you’re flying.

Getting Around in Voyageurs National Park

Before you pack up the car and plan for another national park roadtrip be aware that Voyageurs National Park is almost entirely accessible only by water.

But fear not ye land lubbers! There are a multitude of easy ways to get your hands on a boat and explore this one-of-a-kind park.

The local area is filled with friendly outfitters, guides, and lodges that rent all kinds of boats and even offer guided tours.

Navigating the Lakes at Voyageurs

The park is primarily accessed via three large lakes (Namakan, Kabetogama, and Rainy). Each of the three main lakes in Voyageurs National Park can be accessed at various locations depending on what type of activity you’ll be doing.

The park does offer some hiking trails on the mainland that can be reached by car. These are mostly concentrated near the Ash River Visitor Center and the Rainy Lake Visitor Center.

Before traveling make sure to familiarize yourself with how to safely navigate the lakes. The U.S. Coast Gaurd maintains a series of buoys marking safe routes through the park’s waters. You’ll want to head over to the park website to understand how to use the buoys for navigation. It’s actually very easy!

Once on the lakes in your chosen mode of transport you’ll need a map and the ability to read it properly, a GPS is always a plus too

Best Time to Visit Voyageurs National Park

The best time of year to visit Voyageurs National Park is September and October when the park displays it’s magnificent fall foliage. The busy fishing and tourist seasons are over and the park is serene and quiet, perfect for an unforgettable outdoor getaway.

Voyageurs National Park Seasons

Spring in Voyageurs National Park

Spring in Voyageurs sees melting snow turn to slush and the lakes beginning to thaw out. The park is slowly transitioning from winter’s icy grip into summer’s long days of boating, fishing, hiking, and campfires.

Spring will see few visitors to this area as most wait for summer’s warmer temperatures and increased opportunities to arrive.

The park will see lows in the 30’s during March and upper 40’s by June with highs between 51 – 74 degrees.

Summer in Voyageurs National Park

Summer in Voyageurs brings longer days of sunshine, pleasant weather, and lots of recreational opportunities.

Houseboats dot the lakes and campsites while fishermen cast their lines from small boats in their favorite spots. Canoeists and kayakers ply the waters, and bald eagles soar overhead.

Summer, unfortunately, also brings mosquitoes, biting flies, and ticks in many areas where the vegetation is dense. Dress accordingly and use an effective repellent to have a fun and relatively bug-free adventure.

Fall in Voyageurs National Park

Fall is my favorite time to visit Voyageurs National Park as the bustle of summer fishing and houseboating is long gone and the park’s shores and trails are ablaze with magnificent autumn reds, yellows, and oranges.

This time of year you’ll find few visitors, but all of the opportunities of summer with the added benefit of no bugs and fabulous fall colors.

The waters of the park’s giant lakes are calm and quiet save for the occasional passing fisherman or loon call.

Sunrises and sunsets are reflected on the still waters of the lakes and the northern lights dance above by night. Fall is a feast for the eyes at Voyageurs, but be quick as it’s also very short in this coldest area of the continental U.S.

Winter in Voyageurs National Park

Winter is the dominant season here in the far north and therefore comes early and stays late. This coldest area of the continental U.S. sees temperatures routinely fall far below zero with a record low of -55° fahrenheit.

Factoring in wind chills brings those already subzero temperatures to new and mind-boggling lows.

While winter in Voyageurs is not for the faint of heart, with the proper winter gear and planning it can be a magical place.

The vast lakes freeze over and become highways for snowmobiles and cross-country skiers, as well as the park’s elusive yet thriving wolf packs.

Best Things to Do in Voyageurs National Park

  • Paddle in a Canoe
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Explore Ellsworth Rock Gardens
  • Go Fishing
  • Camp on Your Own Island

Where to Stay – Camping & Lodging in Voyageurs

  • Kettle Falls Hotel (historic hotel in the heart of the park)
  • Cantilever Hotel by Wyndham (Ranier)
  • The Voyagaire Lodge (Crane Lake)
  • Thunderbird Lodge (International Falls)
  • Sha Sha Resort (International Falls)
  • Arrowhead Lodge Resort (Lake Kabetogama)
  • Sandy Point Lodge (Lake Kabetogama)

Favorite Local Restaurant in Voyageurs National Park

  • The Coffee Landing Cafe
  • Thunderbird Lodge
  • Cantilever Hotel

Nearby Attractions

  • Superior National Forest
  • Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness
  • Isle Royale National Park
  • Chippewa National Forest