Voyageurs National Park sits at the border of Minnesota and Canada, and is full of water adventure, wildlife and beautiful scenery. While there are a couple of things you can do on land, the park is best experienced by getting out onto the water. In this article, I will be outlining the must-do experiences at the park! But before I do so, let me introduce myself.
My name is Lydia Weigel (@lostwithlydia), and I’ve always had a passion for traveling and exploring new places. When the pandemic hit in 2020, I had more time on my hands after being furloughed from my job and canceling many trips. So instead of traveling, I started to explore local parks. My love of hiking and adventure slowly expanded, and now it’s my greatest joy.
Through my blog my mission is to help others get outside, and do it safely and responsibly. I love to share beginner hiking tips and help get people started. I also write travel itineraries and guides, so others don’t have to spend a ton of time on the trip-planning process. Whether you’re searching for a new local hike or looking to plan an epic road trip, I have you covered!
My Experience at Voyageurs National Park
I’ve visited 39/63 US national parks so far. Voyageurs piqued my interest because it seemed to be different from just about every other US national park. It’s a remote park, mostly water-based and located right on the Canadian border. It also sees fewer crowds than many other parks. While it doesn’t have quite the iconic views that some other parks offer, I really enjoyed my time there – especially my backcountry camping experience!
My favorite place in Voyageurs was Shoepack Lake. This is a backcountry lake we reached via a water taxi, then hiking and through the use of a canoe. Being out in the backcountry was so peaceful, and it was an amazing chance to disconnect from technology and enjoy time in nature. It was magical to canoe around the lake and camp next to it. We had this area all to ourselves and enjoyed lily pads. We even saw a beaver dam!
Things To Do at Voyageurs National Park
- Take a Ranger-Led Boat Tour Around the National Park: This is a great way to learn about the park’s history and nature from knowledgeable guides. I took the Grand Tour and saw several bald eagles along the way.
- Visit the Famous Kettle Falls Hotel: A historic inn in the national park that can only be reached via boat. You can take a day trip to Kettle Falls Hotel and enjoy lunch or a drink at the famous tilted bar, or spend the night. Make sure to take a walk to see the dam, right on the Canadian border.
- Reserve a Backcountry Campsite: If you’re up for an adventure, book yourself a backcountry campsite. Ours involved hiring a water taxi, and hiking through some overgrown and buggy areas – but it was worth it to enjoy the peace of the backcountry. We saw no other people, watched a beaver swim around our own private lake and loved the tranquility!
- Rent a Houseboat to Explore the Park Via Water on Your Own: There are several houseboat campsites all around the park and this is a great way to enjoy the natural beauty of the area without sacrificing comfort.
What You Need to Know Before You Go
International Falls is the largest nearby city to Voyageurs and is located just a few minutes away from the Rainey Lake Visitor Center. There are several different hotel options in the area. You can either stay in the city, or look for a waterfront resort lodge and enjoy water views during your visit.
Voyageurs National Park is open year-round but looks different depending on the time of year you visit. The lake freezes during the winter and you can go snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, driving on the ice road and more.
In the spring, the park thaws out and people return for activities such as hiking. Summer is a great time for outdoor recreation such as fishing and houseboating, but does bring mosquitoes. The fall is said to be the best time to visit, as the park experiences fall foliage and you’ll have fewer bugs.
If you visit in the summer, make sure to be prepared for mosquitoes and biting flies. The park had the worst mosquitoes we’ve ever experienced and this was by far the biggest downside to our visit. Bring powerful bug spray and a head net if you’ll be doing any hiking. It’s also helpful to treat your clothing ahead of time with picaridin. Apart from that, just enjoy your trip!
Lydia shares detailed travel guides on her blog, www.lostwithlydia.com! You can join her email list there to receive monthly travel tips directly to your inbox. You can also find her on TikTok, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter.