Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park

National Park · Minnesota, United States


Voyageurs National Park is a United States National Park in northern Minnesota near the town of International Falls established in 1975. The park's name commemorates the voyageurs, French-Canadian fur traders who were the first European settlers to frequently travel through the area. The park is notable for its outstanding water resources and is popular with canoeists, kayakers, other boaters, and fishermen.

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The Northern Minnesota winters bring a deep freeze to Voyageurs National Park. Crossing this frozen wonderland takes extra precaution this time of year, but driving is permitted on the park’s ice highways. Ice roads through the park depart from Voyageurs’ visitor centers, and the leisurely 30-mph speed limit gives you a chance to truly admire the remote winter beauty from the warmth of your car.
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Similar to Channel Islands, Voyageurs National Park is free to visit—once you get there. It’s mostly accessible by boat, so bring or rent a kayak or canoe, or charter a ride out to one of the visitor centers. There are options for hiking, but boating among the waterways and islands is also enjoyable. In the winter, you can snowmobile, snowshoe, or ski across the frozen lakes to reach the main body of the park.
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A mosaic of waterways that flow west and eventually as north as the Hudson Bay, Voyageurs National Park features aquatic ecosystems, forests, and wild landscapes. Named for the “voyageurs” – the French-Canadian canoe-men who traveled these waters from the Great Lakes to the interior of the U.S. and Canada – this park is water-based, so bring your own watercraft or to take a boat tour with a ranger!
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The Jun Fujita Cabin at Voyageurs National Park pays tribute to Jun Fujita, of the earliest Japanese Americans to achieve prominence in the Midwest. A noted photographer and poet in the first half of the 20th century, Fujita used his rustic cabin on a remote island near Ranier, Minnesota (now within Voyageurs National Park), as a retreat and a source of inspiration for his artistic work.
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At Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park, you can catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, shooting stars, and even the International Space Station! The best stargazing locations include the Voyageurs Forest Overlook, Beaver Pond Overlook, and the Kettle Falls Dam area, as well as many of the park’s lakeshores, clearings, or campsite docks with unobstructed views. The park hosts night programs throughout the year, so check their website’s calendar before heading out.
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In the winter, waterways — and this entire Minnesota park — become a frozen paradise. Plan an excursion on snowshoes and cross-country skis. From Rainy Lake, where equipment rentals are available, you can use the Tilson Connector Trail to access the Tilson Creek Ski Trails, a 10-mile interconnected network, or strap on your snowshoes and hit the Oberholtzer Trail.
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Located along the Canadian border with the Boundary Waters as a backdrop, Voyageurs National Park caters primarily to canoers and fishermen. About four hours from Minneapolis by car (and seven hours from its sister park, Isle Royale), Voyageurs is open year-round, though the summer months are best for hiking and boating. In addition to its island-dotted lakes, Kettle Falls and The Ellsworth Rock Gardens are a couple more of the park’s highlights.
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