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Why Voyageurs Should be Next on Your National Park Bucket List

Voyageurs National Park, located in northern Minnesota, might not be the most recognized public land in the NPS, but that’s just one of the many reasons it’s so great and deserves a spot on your travel bucket list.

Camping

Every National Park has a campground, so what makes Voyageurs’ camping experience unique?

Photo by Taylor Smith

Photo by Taylor Smith

All designated sites are Voyageurs are only accessible by water and were hand-picked to provide seclusion from other visitors, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in the magic on northern Minnesota. You might even be lucky enough to have an entire island to yourself! Every site includes a tent pad, bear box, pit toilet, and picnic table. Many, but not all, also have a dock, so tying up your watercraft, from kayak to houseboat, is a breeze.

For an extra-secluded experience, consider floating out to the Kabetogama Peninsula and exploring some of the park’s interior lakes (you’ll get a whole lake to yourself for the night!) Remember: All campsites must be reserved in advance through the recreation.gov portal or by calling park headquarters.

The gateway communities are full of friendly faces

You’ll feel right at home driving into any number of the towns that are sprinkled around Voyageurs’ outer limits. From cozy coffee shops and home-cooked food to rustic cabins and lifelong residents of the area, you’ll enjoy the true Minnesotan feel of the area, and hopefully bring a little bit of it back home with you.

Boating

Voyageurs National Park offers you the unique opportunity to experience the sparkling waters of Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point lakes much the same way that french fur traders and Ojibwe indians did centuries ago. In fact, you will have a hard time exploring the park any other way. With over 40% of the park being water and only five miles of roads in the park, a boat is absolutely necessary to discover Minnesota’s only National Park.

Photo by Ron Hawkins

Photo by Ron Hawkins

While motorboats are allowed on Voyageurs’ lakes, you’re sure to enjoy a quiet day on the water. Kayaking and canoeing are excellent ways to view park wildlife like loons and eagles, and even to fish from! Non-motorized options are becoming evermore popular and are definitely something to check out. However, motorboats are great too, providing more space and a little power if you have less time and want to cover more ground (or water haha) at the park. There are many resorts and outfitting services in gateway communities with rentals available for you to try something new.

You’ll Get Hooked on Fishing

Photo by Dan Schermerhorn

Photo by Dan Schermerhorn

Didn’t see that one coming did you? Lots of water means lots of fish which means lots of happy fisher(wo)man. People visit from all corners of the country to experience Minnesota’s abundant aquatic life. And not just in the summer! If sitting in a hut bundled up and listening to the radio sounds like a good time, ice fishing might be the activity for you.

The History Might Surprise You

A traditional Voyageur canoe

A traditional Voyageur canoe

Voyageurs National Park is probably most well known for its role in the fur trade and the French-Canadian voyageurs for whom the park is named, but there’s so much more to this place than beaver pelts and baguettes.

The Ojibwe were here long before the fur traders, paddling birchbark canoes, traveling in hand-made snowshoes, and planting gardens for summer sustenance.

If you’re interested in happenings a little less ancient, the relatively recent designation of Voyageurs as a National Park means many areas in the park are full of family histories, personal dreams, and capitalist ventures left to add to its unique narrative.

The Sky

From firey sunrises and pastel sunsets to sparkling stars and dancing northern lights, the skies of Voyageurs are quite simply breathtaking. Let this awesome video by More Than Just Parks blow your mind.

 

So now I challenge you to #GetOutside and #FindYourPark in serene Minnesota.


by Ella Rausch

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