One of the parks that I’ve always wanted to visit is Voyagers National Park in northern Minnesota. I’ve had some friends that have been to the Park at least once a year for the last several years and they always have such wonderful stories to tell. Voyageurs National Park is one of two or three Parks that I can think of that share the border between the United States and Canada. The Canada–United States border is the longest international border in the world between two countries, and this whole area in northern Minnesota and southern Ontario is gorgeous, dotted with lakes and is an absolute boaters paradise. The stories my friends used to tell were particularly interesting because they were kayakers and canoeists and they always had to portage their canoe or kayak as they crossed into the backwoods.
This park was named after French-Canadian fur traders who helped to open up trade routes in the American North. The word Voyager is French, meaning traveler. Over 40% the Park is water…Plan ahead before coming to this water park by bringing your own boat, renting a watercraft, or taking a park ranger boat tour. To the east of the National Park lies the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. The Boundary Waters area is huge and also contains the Superior National Forest in northeastern Minnesota, and in Canada, it includes La Verendrye and Quetico Provincial Parks in Ontario. Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota is also considered part of the Boundary Waters.
Voyageurs National Park covers a total area of 218,054 acres. Voyageurs was made a national park on January 8, 1971, although European exploration began about 1688. The demand for beaver pelts brought fur traders into the area, but as competition in the east depleted the beaver, the voyageurs expanded their range into the northwest territories of North America. Prior to the fur traders being here along the modern border of the United States and Canada, the Ojibwe were the primary residents on the border in the 1780’s.
From Duluth, MN. drive north about 110 miles on US 53. For the Crane Lake entrance, turn east at Orr and drive 28 miles on County Roads 23 and 24. For the Ash River entrance, stay on US 53 for 25 more miles, turn right at the Ash River Trail sign, and continue for 10 miles. For Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center, stay on US 53 for 3 more miles, turn right onto County Road 122, and drive to the lakeshore. For the Rainy Lake entrance, stay on US 53 to International Falls, then head east for 12 miles on Minn. 11 to the park’s entrance road. The airports in this area are at Duluth and International Falls, Minnesota; and Fort Frances, Ontario.
There is no charge for entry into this National Park. Voyageurs National Park has more than 270 campsites, houseboat sites, and day use sites within its boundaries. The campsites inside the Park are “boat-in” and cannot be reached by car. Houseboat sites for camping are also available. Frontcountry and Backcountry tent camping sites are available inside the park by permit and reservation at one of the 270 designated sites.
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!Voyageurs National Park there are 8 free campsites within 50 miles of Voyageurs National Park.
—-Hiking & Boating—-
One of the best hiking trails (but far from the only one, as there are tons of trails here) is Blind Ash Bay Trail. This trail is a 3.6-mile loop located near Kabetogama, Minnesota that features a lake. The trail is rated as moderate and offers a number of activity options. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on a leash.
—-Things To Do—-
The Kettle Falls Hotel is the only lodging option within the national park, and it has a fascinating past too. The charming white-and-red-trimmed building with screened-in wraparound porch has brought travelers to the area since 1918 when Robert Williams purchased the hotel for $1,000 and four barrels of whiskey.