Recreational Activities

Boating

Whether your choice of craft is a kayak, canoe, sailboat, tour boat, houseboat, or power boat, with nearly 84,000 acres of water (approximately 40% of the Park’s surface area) Voyageurs National Park is truly a boater’s paradise. The four “big lakes” offer opportunities to explore 655 miles of undeveloped shoreline, including numerous back bays and over 1,000 islands, and plenty of open water. Visitors seeking more solitude can paddle the inland lakes of the Kabetogama Peninsula, accessible from Rainy and Kabetogama Lakes by trails and portages. The boating season at Voyageurs typically runs from mid-Spring through mid-Fall, when the lake ices over until the following spring.

Kayak/Canoe

Voyageurs National Park is considered to have some of the best sea kayaking and canoeing in the country with opportunities for all skill levels. Although the major lakes are shared with power boats, the area is large enough that paddlers can avoid the traffic and still find plenty of solitude. At several interior lakes, the park service provides canoes or rowboats for a small fee to those who want the experience without the portage.

Fishing/Ice Fishing

Voyageurs National Park provides excellent fishing opportunities throughout the year. The lakes are known to have over 50 different species of fish, including lake sturgeon, walleye, northern pike, black crappie, and smallmouth bass. Many believe these waters have some of the best walleye fishing in the country (if not the world) and some of the best smallmouth bass fishing in Minnesota. A Minnesota fishing license is required.

Swimming

There’s little that is more refreshing than plunging into the crisp, clear waters of Voyageurs National Park, especially on the hottest summer days. The 84,000 acres of water cover in the Park offer plenty of swimming opportunities. Due to their smaller size, the inland lakes get a little warmer during the summer than the four big lakes, but a few of the islands on the big lakes do have some great sandy shore beaches.

Birding

Voyageurs National Park is a premier site for birding. The Park’s richly varied ecosystem supports some of the greatest diversity of bird life in North America with over 240 species, including bald eagles, loons, cormorants, hummingbirds, woodpeckers, osprey, white pelicans, and a myriad of songbirds. Each spring the Park hosts a 3-day “Birder’s Rendezvous” with opportunities to view birds during hikes, cruises, and canoe trips. To enjoy birds in any season, bring your binoculars and pick up a copy of Birds of Voyageurs National Park, produced by the Voyageurs National Park Association and published by the University of Minnesota Press.

* During your stay at the Park it is important to remember that you are the visitor. Please view all wildlife from a safe distance so as not to disturb them. Using binoculars, a spotting scope, or a telephoto camera lens will help you view animals “close up” without affecting their behavior.

Wildlife Watching

The combination of forest, bog, and lake environments at Voyageurs National Park provides a wealth of habitats where a diversity of wildlife flourishes. Listen carefully on a quiet night and you may hear the cry of a loon, the howl of a wolf, or the hoot of an owl. Wander in the forest after a freshly fallen snow and you might discover the tracks of fisher, mink, coyote, and possibly even moose and lynx. Focus your binoculars on the sky to see soaring bald eagles and osprey and on the trees to glimpse colorful and elusive warblers. The Park is either home or temporary host to over 240 different species of birds, 42 species of mammals, 10 species of reptiles and amphibians, 53 species of fish, and numerous invertebrates. Voyageurs is one of only two national parks in the continental U.S. that has indigenous populations of wolf.

* During your stay at the Park it is important to remember that you are the visitor. Please view all wildlife from a safe distance so as not to disturb them. Using binoculars, a spotting scope, or a telephoto camera lens will help you view animals “close up” without affecting their behavior.

Backpacking/Hiking/Nature Walks

Discover the tranquility of the Voyageurs National Park landscape as you meander through rolling hills and rocky cliffs, and around bogs, beaver ponds, swamps, and idyllic lakes. With fewer than 10 miles of roads in the Park, exploring the inland of Voyageurs demands travel by foot. Walking the Park offers exceptional solitude, a greater chance for spotting wildlife, and an opportunity to experience the landscape up close. Backpacking along the 24-mile long Kab-Ash Trail on the mainland or the more remote interior trails of the Kabetogama Peninsula can provide an unforgettable experience. For the day-hiker, Voyageurs has trails both short and long, and easy to more difficult. The Park also periodically offers guided, interpretive hikes (check at the visitors centers). The changing leaves make autumn a particularly enjoyable time to hike the Park. Some trails are only accessible by boat (check with area businesses for water taxi service), although many begin a short distance from one of the three visitors centers.

Snowmobiling

Experience expansive vistas while traveling over 110 miles of snowmobile trails maintained by the Park. Voyageurs National Park is one of the only national parks in the lower 48 states that allows snowmobiling, and the only one that allows off-road snowmobiling. All snowmobile trails travel over lake ice except for the overland safety portages that bypass unsafe ice and the ungroomed Chain of Lakes trail that passes through the heart of the Kabetogama Peninsula. Visit the Voyageurs National Park website at www.nps.gov/voya for weekly updates of trail conditions.

Snowshoe/Cross Country Ski.

Discover the tranquility of the winter landscape in Voyageurs National Park. Venture across frozen lakes and ponds amid the stillness of snow-covered forests, hills, and rocky cliffs. The Park has both groomed and ungroomed trails for all skill levels; most are accessible from either the Ash River or Rainy Lake visitorcenters. Ski rentals and snowshoes for loan are available at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center.

Camping

Enjoy quiet nights spent under the stars and northern lights at one of over 200 secluded boat-in campsites within the park. Designated tent and houseboat sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis. There are a few developed walk-in campsites on the Kabetogama Peninsula, but boat transportation is required to reach the trailheads. Camping is allowed elsewhere in the park, but not within 200 yards of designated camping or day use sites, on private and leased land, or within ¼ mile of any park structure or developed area. Overnight use requires a free, self-registration permit. Permits can be obtained at visitors centers during business hours or at permit stations located near all Park boat launch facilities. Drive-in campsites are available just outside the Park at Woodenfrog State Forest Campground on Kabetogama Lake and at Ash River Campground.

Interpretive Programs

Throughout the year, Voyageurs National Park hosts a number of special events and a variety of ranger and naturalist guided activities. Special events include the Birders Rendezvous in early June, the Autumn Rendezvous in late August, and the Winter Rendezvous from January through March. Activities offered include guided boat and canoe tours of the Park, a Junior Ranger program, interpretive walks and talks, tours of the gold mine on Little American Island, and a chance to paddle back in history aboard a 26-foot voyageurs’ North Canoe. Schedules for events and activities are available at the Park visitors centers or online on the Park’s special events and speaker series calendars.

Stargazing

The distance from city lights and the northern latitude location of Voyageurs National Park provides visitors with excellent stargazing opportunities. Constellations are prominent, the band of the Milky Way is often distinguishable, and sightings of the northern lights are not uncommon.

Sightseeing

There are many visitor destinations in the Park, ranging from historic structures with a unique past to extraodinary scenic outlooks. Popular destinations include the Ellsworth Rock Gardens, Kettle Falls Hotel, and the I. W. Stevens Pine Cove Resort. For a complete list of places to see, visit our Destinations/Visitor Information page.