Voyageurs Overview

Voyageurs National Park, situated in northern Minnesota of the United States along the border with Canada, is a unique and captivating wilderness area that spans over 218,200 acres (about 883 square kilometers). Established in 1975, the park is named after the French-Canadian fur traders, known as “voyageurs,” who once navigated these waters in large birch bark canoes on trading expeditions between the late 17th and early 19th centuries. This water-centric park is characterized by its vast network of lakes, waterways, and islands, making it a haven for adventurers and nature lovers seeking to explore its remote and pristine landscapes.

The park’s geography is dominated by four major lakes: Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point, interconnected by smaller lakes, rivers, and streams. This aquatic maze forms a natural border between the United States and Canada, offering visitors over 30,000 acres of water to explore. Voyageurs National Park is a testament to the beauty and diversity of the North Woods ecosystem, featuring dense boreal forests, rocky bluffs, and wetlands that provide habitat for a wide array of wildlife, including moose, wolves, bears, and bald eagles.

Voyageurs is a year-round destination, offering a variety of recreational activities tailored to each season. During the warmer months, boating, kayaking, fishing, and hiking are popular, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the park. The unique water-based geography of the park requires many visitors to access its interior by boat, enhancing the sense of adventure and exploration. In winter, the frozen lakes transform into routes for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing, showcasing the serene beauty of the North Woods under a blanket of snow.

With its rich history, stunning landscapes, and abundant recreational opportunities, Voyageurs National Park invites visitors to disconnect from the modern world and immerse themselves in the tranquility and splendor of the great outdoors.

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Park Map
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Voyageurs National Park Highlights


Voyageurs National Park, a mosaic of waterways and forests in Minnesota, offers a refuge for a variety of wildlife, showcasing the rich biodiversity of this unique ecosystem where visitors can connect with nature and observe the animals that thrive in its lakes and forests.

Bald Eagle Majestic Bald Eagles are commonly sighted soaring above the water or perched in tall trees, symbolizing the wild beauty of Voyageurs National Park.

Moose The elusive Moose, the largest member of the deer family, is often seen browsing in the park’s marshes and forests, a thrilling sight for visitors.

Gray Wolf The Gray Wolf, a symbol of the wilderness, roams the park’s vast forests, part of the complex predator-prey dynamics that maintain ecological balance.

Common Loon The haunting call of the Common Loon, Minnesota’s state bird, resonates across the park’s lakes, embodying the spirit of the Northwoods.

Beaver Engineers of the aquatic world, Beavers are frequently seen building dams and lodges, shaping the park’s waterways and creating habitats for other species.

American Black Bear The American Black Bear, adaptable and omnivorous, forages through the park’s forests, occasionally seen by visitors on quiet mornings or evenings.

River Otter Playful River Otters glide through the park’s waterways, often spotted by kayakers and boaters, their antics a joy to watch.

White-tailed Deer Graceful White-tailed Deer roam the park, especially visible at dawn and dusk in meadows and along roadways, a common encounter for hikers.

Red Fox The Red Fox, with its distinctive orange fur and bushy tail, can occasionally be seen darting across meadows or along forest edges, a sight that delights visitors.

Great Blue Heron Standing silently in shallows, the Great Blue Heron fishes in the park’s lakes and rivers, its presence a testament to the health of aquatic ecosystems.

Voyageurs National Park’s wildlife, from the iconic Bald Eagle to the industrious Beaver, offers visitors a window into the interconnected life of the Northern wilderness, making it a premier destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Voyageurs National Park Pictures

Engaging Voyageurs National Park

Boating is a quintessential way to explore the interconnected waterways of Voyageurs National Park. With vast lakes and hidden coves, renting a canoe, kayak, or motorboat offers an intimate encounter with the park’s aquatic environment. Navigate through the pristine waters, discover remote islands, and enjoy fishing, swimming, or simply the tranquility of the wilderness that surrounds you.

Hiking in Voyageurs National Park unveils a different aspect of its beauty. The park features trails for all levels, from short walks to more strenuous hikes. Trek through the lush forests, walk alongside picturesque lakes, and climb to scenic overlooks that offer breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Keep an eye out for wildlife and the diverse plant life that calls this park home.

Fishing is a popular activity in Voyageurs National Park, offering abundant opportunities to catch walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and other species. The park’s clean, clear waters are home to a rich aquatic ecosystem. Whether you’re an experienced angler or trying your hand at fishing for the first time, the experience of casting a line in these serene waters, surrounded by stunning natural beauty, is unparalleled.

Voyageurs National Park Trails

Kabetogama Lake Overlook Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.7 miles round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: This trail offers a gentle hike suitable for all skill levels and provides stunning views of Kabetogama Lake and the surrounding forest. It’s an excellent choice for birdwatching and wildlife spotting, including deer and eagles. The trail is well-maintained, making it accessible for families and a perfect way to experience the natural beauty of Voyageurs National Park.

Blind Ash Bay Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2.5 miles round trip with an elevation gain of about 150 feet (46 meters)

Description: Starting near the Ash River Visitor Center, this trail winds through a diverse forest landscape before culminating in breathtaking views of Blind Ash Bay. It’s a moderately challenging hike with some elevation changes, offering opportunities to see local flora and fauna. The trail’s endpoint provides a serene spot to relax and enjoy the peaceful waters of the bay.

Cruiser Lake Trail

Rating: Strenuous

Distance and Elevation Gain: Up to 9.4 miles one way (18.8 miles round trip) with an elevation gain of about 450 feet (137 meters)

Description: For those seeking a more challenging adventure, the Cruiser Lake Trail offers an extended hike through remote areas of the park, passing several lakes and offering potential wildlife encounters, including moose. The trail’s length and remote nature make it a rewarding experience for experienced hikers, showcasing the park’s wilderness.

Ethnobotanic Garden Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 0.25 miles loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: Located at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center, this short, easy loop provides an educational experience about the local plants and their traditional uses by the indigenous people and early settlers. The trail is accessible and offers a quick, informative outdoor activity suitable for all ages.

Oberholtzer Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.5 miles loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: This easy loop trail offers a peaceful walk through a mix of forested areas and along the shoreline of Rainy Lake. It’s named after Ernest Oberholtzer, a key figure in the establishment of Voyageurs National Park. The trail provides beautiful views of the lake and is an excellent choice for a leisurely hike.


1. What is Voyageurs National Park known for?

Voyageurs National Park, located in northern Minnesota, is renowned for its stunning water-based landscape, encompassing a network of pristine lakes, waterways, and islands.

This unique national park is a haven for boaters, kayakers, and anglers, offering visitors the chance to explore its scenic beauty through extensive water activities. The park is named after the French-Canadian fur traders, known as “voyageurs,” who navigated these waters centuries ago.

Voyageurs is also known for its diverse ecosystems, which include northern boreal forests and abundant wildlife such as bald eagles, moose, and wolves.

Its dark skies make it a fantastic location for stargazing, including views of the Northern Lights under the right conditions.

With its combination of historical significance, natural beauty, and recreational opportunities, Voyageurs National Park provides a unique wilderness experience in the heart of the American Midwest.

  • All Trails, Best Trails in Voyageurs National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, Rainy Lake,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Britannica, Voyageurs National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • National Geographic, Complete National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Publishing, Washington DC.
  • National Geographic, Guide to the National Parks of the United States, National Geographic Society, 2003.
  • National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
  • National Park Service, Voyageurs,, retrieved April 2024.
  • Voyageurs National Park Association, Voyageurs,, retrieved April 2024.