Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Where is the wheelchair accessible campsite? How is it different from the other campsites?
A: The park has one wheelchair accessible campsite. It is N41, Voyageurs Narrows. It is located just southwest of Mica Island on Namakan Lake. The campsite is available by reservation only. Reservations can only be made at the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center. Park staff built the facilities at Voyageurs Narrows to accommodate a wheelchair. The fire ring is higher, the picnic table has an extended end, the toilet is accessible, and the whole site is located on a rather flat rock surface.
Q: Where are the sandy beaches in the park? Are there beaches outside the park?
A: There are a number of sandy beaches in the park located at the developed sites. Park maps and brochures list the type of access each site has. If the access is listed as sand, then there is most likely a sandy beach at the site. Outside of the Park, there are sandy beaches at Woodenfrog State Forest Campground and City Beach (east of International Falls on County Road 20) and there is a beach in Ranier.
Q: Can I pick berries and edible plants in the park?
A: Yes. The following edible species may be gathered for personal use or consumption without a written special use permit: strawberries, chokecherries, rose hips, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, cranberries, and wild rice. Collection is limited to one gallon per person per day. It has been determined that gathering or consuming these species will not adversely affect park wildlife, the reproduction potential of a plant species, or otherwise adversely affect park resources.
Q: How do I rent one of the boats the Park has available for use on the interior lakes?
A: The park rents canoes and rowboats for $10 a day/boat on nine interior lakes on the Kabetogama Peninsula. Visitors may reserve a boat no sooner than one week in advance by phone or at the Rainy Lake or Kabetogama visitor centers [open 9AM to 5PM]. Visitors must sign a special use permit and pick up a key to unlock the boats from the appropriate visitor center. The following boats are available for use at these locations:
Rainy Lake Visitor Center
- Brown Lake – 1 overnight canoe
- Cranberry Creek to get to Locator Lake – 1 overnight canoe
- Peary Lake – 1 overnight canoe
Kabetogama Visitor Center
- Locator Lake –3 day use canoes, 2 day use boats, 2 overnight canoes
- Quill Lake –1 overnight boat
- Ek Lake –1 overnight canoe
- Cruiser Lake –1 overnight canoe
- Little Shoepack Lake – 1 overnight canoe
- Shoepack Lake –1 overnight boat
Q: Are the bugs always this bad?
A: Biting insects arrive in May and stay through the end of August. The number of insects depends on the amount of rain the area receives. Biting insects subside near the end of August.
Q: Can we cut wood for campfires?
A: Visitors can only use dead and downed wood for firewood. Visitors may not cut down live trees or dead standing trees or any other type of live vegetation. Some sites are labeled No Wood Gathering. At these sites no wood – dead and downed included – may be gathered for firewood. Firewood is available for purchase at several locations in the gateway communities, and Park visitors are encouraged to purchase wood and carry it in with them whenever possible.
Q: Where can I camp in the Park?
A: Visitors can camp almost anywhere in the Park, although people are encouraged to use one of the park’s developed sites because they are built to protect the park’s resources and to withstand use. There are over 200 developed campsites in the Park. All of the developed sites are “boat-in” and cannot be reached by car. Campsites in the Park are operated on a “first come, first served” basis; reservations are not accepted. Visitors can camp in the Park for 14 consecutive days and a maximum of 30 calendar days per year. Cars can be left parked at a visitor center for the duration of a stay, however camping or other overnight use is not allowed near the visitor centers.
Q: Where can I camp on the edge of the park?
A: Drive-up camping is available outside of the Park at Woodenfrog State Forest Campground on Kabetogama Lake and Ash River Campground in Ash River, both of which are operated by the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Woodenfrog State Campground on Lake Kabetogama is beautiful and rustic with a great swimming beach, boat ramp, and an old YCC building used for interpretive talks on a regular basis. There are 61 campsites at Woodenfrog. Ash River Campground has nine units and is located across the road from the DNR boat launch in Ash River. Both campgrounds charge $12.00/night. Many resorts also allow camping. They are listed in the annual park newsletter, The Rendezvous, which we can send at your request.
Q: Do we have to report to customs if we boat into Canada?
A: Canadian Customs requires visitors to report to a Canadian customs office before going ashore in Canada. Customs offices are located at Portage Bay on Sand Point Lake and Sand Bay on Rainy Lake. However, visitors not going ashore can obtain a CANPASS Remote Area Border Crossing (RABC) permit allowing them to cross the border without passing through customs; these can be obtained in person at designated ports of entry or in advance by mail. Please see the Canadian Border Services Agency website for the most recent application form and program details.
When returning to the U.S., visitors must report to a U.S. Customs office, unless they are in possession of Form I-68, which is part of the Canadian Border Boat Landing Program. Though Form I-68 permits entrance into the U.S. without reporting in person, you are still required to telephone customs to notify them of your entry. Form I-68 can only be obtained in person at a port of entry. U.S. customs offices are located at the Crane Lake Public Landing or at the International Falls Bridge. For more information about Form I-68 see the U.S. Customs website.
Q: Where are pets allowed?
A: Dogs are only allowed at developed areas, such as visitor centers, and at overnight or day use sites. Dogs are not allowed on park trails or portages. Dogs must be on a leash and attended at all times. Dogs are not allowed on park trails because they can disturb wildlife and could potentially spread disease. Other pets fall under these same guidelines.
Q: Where can I fish? Is ice fishing allowed in the park?
A: You can fish anywhere in the park except Beast Lake on the Kabetogama Peninsula. Ice fishing is allowed. All Minnesota State fishing regulations apply and anglers must possess a Minnesota State fishing license. If visitors want to fish in Canadian waters they must have a Canadian fishing license.
Q: How do visitors get to Kettle Falls? Can you drive there?
A: There are no roads to Kettle Falls. Visitors can get there by starting from Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, or Crane Lake. Visitors can get there by private boat, the Kabetogama Lake tour boat (The Otter), commercial water taxi, or floatplane.
Q:When do the ladyslippers bloom?
A: They usually bloom in late June. The best place to see them is near the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center. The ladyslippers bloom on a grassy island in the parking lot.
Q: When do the lakes freeze and thaw?
A: The lakes usually freeze in late November-early December. They thaw in late April-early May. The thickness of the ice varies depending on how cold the winter is. The ice can be 3 + feet thick.
Q: How far is it to…?
A: A list of relevant distances by car and boat:
Distances by car to the Park
Twin Cities = ~ 270 miles
It’s about a five-hour drive from the center of the Twin Cities to the shores of Lake Kabetogama. Plan on the same amount of time to reach Crane Lake or Ash River. Add 45 minutes to reach Island View, which is east of International Falls.
Duluth = ~ 140 miles
It’s a little less than three-hour drive from the center of Duluth to the shores of Lake Kabetogama
Distances by boat between park destinations
- Ash River Visitor Center to Kettle Falls = ~ 13 miles
- Brule Narrows to Kettle Falls = ~ 20 miles
- Crane Lake Ranger Station to Kabetogama Lake VC = ~ 39 miles
- Crane Lake Ranger Station to Kettle Falls = ~ 30 miles
- Kabetogama Lake VC to Ash River VC = ~ 8 miles
- Kabetogama Lake VC to Kettle Falls = ~ 21 miles
- Kabetogama Lake VC to Gold Portage = ~ 7 miles
- Kabetogama Lake VC to Ellsworth Rock Gardens = ~ 5 miles
- Rainy Lake VC to Kettle Falls = ~ 34 miles
- Rainy Lake VC to Brule Narrows = ~ 14 miles
- Rainy Lake VC to Cranberry Bay = ~ 7 miles
- Rainy Lake VC to Anderson Bay = ~26 miles
Distances by car between park visitor centers
- Ash River VC to Crane Lake Ranger Station = ~ 78 miles
- Kabetogama Lake VC to Ash River VC = ~ 19 miles
- Kabetogama Lake VC to Crane Lake Ranger Station = ~ 71 miles
- Rainy Lake VC to Kabetogama Lake VC = ~ 36 miles
- Rainy Lake VC to Ash River VC = ~ 49 miles
- Rainy Lake VC to Crane Lake Ranger Station = ~103 miles
- Distances from major highways to visitor centers
- Highway 53 to Kabetogama Lake VC = 3 miles
- Highway 53 to Ash River VC = 11 miles (8 miles to entrance road, 3 miles to VC
- International Falls to Rainy Lake VC entrance road = ~ 11 miles
Q: Are there any motor restrictions for boats in the park?
A: No. As long as the boat and motor comply with state and federal regulations. However, personal watercraft (e.g. jet skis) are prohibited in the park.
Q: How do I find my way around the lake without getting lost?
A: Visitors can find their way by using navigation maps of the park lakes. These maps mark channel buoys and rocks. Maps are sold in the bookstores at all visitor centers.
Q:What kind of permit do I need to get into Voyageurs and what does it cost?
A: No permit is required and it does not cost anything to enter the Park. However, anyone staying in the Park overnight, year-round, is required to have an overnight permit. Visitors can obtain permits from any of the visitors centers or from one of the permit boxes located at each of the boat launches. Be aware that park campsites are becoming more popular each year and they fill up early most weekends in the summer. Eventually the National Park Service could require advance campsite permits to ensure that people who drive great distances to the park will be guaranteed a campsite when they arrive.
Q: Where can I leave my car while I am visiting the Park overnight? Can visitors park an RV overnight near a visitor center?
A: Visitors can leave their vehicles at any of the three visitor centers – Ash River, Kabetogama, and Rainy Lake – for the duration of their stay, however occupied vehicles are not allowed overnight in the visitor center parking lots. You can also call the local resorts and ask about their policies for overnight parking.
Q: Are there any roads in the park?
A: Yes. There are approximately 10 miles of roads in the park. The only roads are the access roads to the three visitor centers – Ash River, Kabetogama, and Rainy Lake. During the winter months, the park maintains a 7-mile ice road that starts from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center boat launch and ends at Cranberry bay.
Q: Where can we get the weather forecast?
A: A two day weather forecast from the National Weather Service is posted each morning at each visitor center. Most park radios have a weather forecast channel. A weather forecast is broadcast via telephone at (218) 283-4615.
Q: Does your office have basic information on the park-area resorts?
A: Yes we do. We have the annual park service newsletter, The Rendezvous, which lists the resorts by lake area and describes the services each resort offers. We will send you a copy on request. We also have limited information on individual resorts and outfitters for those with specific requests.
Q: Are there water taxis to take me to the Kabetogama Peninsula trail heads?
A: There are many resorts on Lake Kabetogama that offer water-taxi service to the Kabetogama Peninsula. There is also water-taxi service, from the Kettle Falls Hotel or the Rainy Lake Visitor Center, to reach the peninsula trail head on Rainy Lake’s Anderson Bay. The Park also operates a shuttle service from the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center to the Peninsula’s Locator Lake Trailhead, one day a week only during the summer season. Telephone numbers for these services are all found in the annual park service newsletter, The Rendezvous.
Q: If I take my family to Voyageurs NP, what can we do besides fishing?
A: There’s a wealth of activities for families at the park. The National Park Service publishes a daily list of interpretive activities, from a beaver pond hike to a night-time boat tour or a ride in a big lake-size “Voyageur” canoe. There are trails to hike and beautiful sand beaches on many of the islands. With little effort, you’ll see eagles, pelicans, osprey, turkey vultures, loons and golden eye ducks. Raspberries and blueberries are ripe for picking in mid-summer. Climb huge glacial boulders or sun yourself on the ancient rock of the Canadian Shield. Stop at a park visitor center or ask a resort owner about their favorite activities. A week at the park will be gone before you know it. See our list of popular recreational activities.