Voyageurs Video: The Spirit of the Park
Voyageurs National Park was named after the famed French tradesmen who paddled tons of trade goods up to 3,000 miles per summer in the waters between the U.S. and Canada.
We will never be able to emulate quite that spirit (and definitely not those awesome colorful beanies!), but going in to Voyageurs National Park, our 50th park visited this year, we knew we’d be paddling at least a little.
Water is the only way to really access the park, anyway. A little bit of shoreline is protected by the park, but the majority lies in the string of lakes and islands dotting the U.S. boundary.
We are lucky and have our own kayak. But there are a few alternatives to capturing the spirit of Voyageurs if you are without your own boat:
- Guided park tour: the park runs several guided boat tours, including a free one where you paddle a 26-foot long canoe with other visitors
- Water taxi + cached canoes: the park leaves a number of cached canoes for visitor use (with a small fee) at Locator Lake, accessed by a 2-mile ferry from the main lake. Nearby resorts run water taxis that can you can reserve.
- Houseboat: Voyageurs claims to be the country’s premier houseboat vacation spot. We saw a few private ones you can rent and they are no joke: hot tubs, water slides, and some had room for 12-15 people.
Neither of us had even heard of Voyageurs before this trip, and the huge network of water and land was almost empty when we explored it in mid-June. It is one of the National Park Service’s best kept secrets.
When we planned our trip, we wanted to hit the highlights: Rainy Lake, Kabetogama Lake, and Ash River. Had we had our own boat with a motor, we would have hit up Kettle Falls, too! From there, we headed to the visitor center to make campsite reservations. We should have booked online ahead of time, because there was no service at the visitor center and all reservations had to be made online in advance. Thankfully, the rangers were helpful and we were able to book using their system, and we walked away with our permits for the next two nights.
Our first day at Voyageurs was spent paddling Rainy Lake, around several of its small islands, and a couple of miles to our campsite for the night (R67 – HIGHLY recommend for sunset & sunrise views!)
On our second day, we headed back to the Rainy Lake dock, drove around to Kabetogama Lake, and put in at the Wooden Frog Campground for our second day on the lake. We paddled many more miles (like 5 or so!) to the Locator Lake Trailhead, where we hiked a short (and buggy) two-mile trail to Locator Lake, where the park caches canoes for visitor use. When we booked our campsites, we had also reserved the use of one of these canoes, so we hopped in and paddled another two miles to our campsite for the night.
Day three started with making our way back to the car. In the afternoon, we drove to Ash River and Cole hiked a few of the trails there. I sat in the car being tired and needing alone time badly 🙂
For the night, we camped at the Ash River state campground. But first we grabbed a much needed beer down the road at Ash Trail Lodge. Delicious beer and delicious wifi!
Alright, now that you have a summary, check out the sights and sounds of Voyageurs National Park for yourself in our latest video below: