Is Voyageurs National Park Worth Visiting? 6 Reasons Why (+3 Reasons to Stay Away!)

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Have you ever wanted to explore a hidden corner of the world, with land covered in crystal-clear lakes, untouched wilderness, and seemingly endless stars? If so, then Voyageurs National Park may be the place for you, but visiting Voyageurs is not for everyone.

Is Voyageurs National Park worth visiting for you?

Nestled in the very northern tip of Minnesota, Voyageurs offers an unforgettable experience. From its breathtaking scenery to its diverse array of wildlife, this park has plenty to offer. Whether you’re looking for a quicker getaway or a week-long adventure, there are plenty of reasons why Voyageurs National Park is worth visiting.

In this article, we’ll explore six reasons why this national park should be at the top of your travel bucket list and three reasons why it might not be right for you.

Is Voyageurs National Park Worth Visiting?

Voyageurs National Park is an incredible place filled with beauty and adventure. From its many fish-filled lakes to its stunning scenery, this park offers visitors the chance to experience nature in its most pristine form.

The park is located in northern Minnesota near the Canadian Border and includes Rainy Lake, Kabetogama Lake, Namakan Lake, and more. There are several visitor centers that provide information on local attractions, as well as boat tours available during the summer months.

Visitors can also take water taxis to explore more remote areas of the park or hire fishing guides to help them land some Northern Pike or Black Bear.

But if you’re on the fence, is Voyageurs National Park worth visiting? If you’re looking for a truly unique outdoor experience, then Voyageurs is worth visiting. There’s plenty to do in this beautiful area including camping, hiking, fishing, and bird watching.

Plus, with minimal light pollution, there’s nothing like stargazing from one of the many secluded spots within the park! So if you’re ready for an unforgettable journey into the wilds of Minnesota, here are a few reasons why we think that Voyageurs is worth visiting.

Is Voyageurs National Park worth visiting? This view out over Kabetogama lake framed by greenery shows many of the tiny islands in the lake, too.
A beautiful view we saw out over Kabetogama

6 Reasons to Visit Voyageurs

Voyageurs National Park offers a unique outdoor experience. Here are six reasons why you should make the trip:

1. You Enjoy Wildlife Watching, so Have your Binoculars Ready

When it comes to wildlife watching, it’s tough to beat Voyageurs National Park. This vast wilderness is home to an impressive variety of animals, including some of the most iconic creatures you can see in the United States.

One of the most exciting sights in Voyageurs National Park is the bald eagle. This majestic raptor is found throughout the park and is often seen soaring over the water in search of fish. In fact, Voyageurs is one of the top places in the country to see these birds in the wild, and you’ll have a great chance of spotting one during your visit.

Another species that you’ll want to keep an eye out for is the moose. These large mammals roam the park, especially near waterways where they can graze on aquatic plants. While we haven’t been lucky enough to observe any during our visits, we have heard that the best places to have a chance to spot them are on the Kabetogama Peninsula, often along the Cruiser Lake Trail. 

But the wildlife experience in Voyageurs National Park isn’t confined to these iconic species. You’ll also have the chance to see other animals such as turtles, fish, and a variety of birds and small mammals. Whether you’re hiking through the forest or paddling along the park’s lakes and rivers, there’s always the possibility of encountering one of these fascinating creatures.

Voyageurs National Park is home to many pairs of bald eagles, nesting in the park.
There is an eagle’s nest near the top of the bare-looking tree!

2. You Enjoy Fishing

Voyageurs National Park is a fisherman’s paradise. With over 20 lakes in the park, both large and small, there are endless opportunities to catch a variety of fish species. Some of the most common fish found in these waters include walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and crappie.

The park’s lakes offer a unique fishing experience, as many of the best interior angling spots are only accessible by boat. This means that you can explore remote areas of the park and fish in waters that are less heavily fished than other areas. You can also fish from the shore or wade in the shallows of some of the smaller lakes.

Whether you’re a seasoned angler or a beginner, Voyageurs National Park offers fishing access. There are plenty of outfitters in the area that can provide you with all the gear you need, and the park’s rangers can offer guidance on where to fish and what to use for bait.

3. You Don’t Go to Sleep Early

If you’re planning a visit to Voyageurs National Park, don’t go to sleep early! Thanks to its northern latitude location and the lack of light pollution, the park is one of the best places in North America to experience the night sky.

You’ll be able to see many different constellations throughout the year. The band of the Milky Way is often distinguishable. It’s also possible to see the northern lights from Voyageurs when conditions are right!

The park’s staff even offers night sky programs that provide visitors with an insight into what they can expect to see while stargazing in Voyageurs National Park.

4. You Don’t Need Cell Phone Service

Cell phone service may be an important factor for visitors considering a trip to Voyageurs National Park, but we wouldn’t recommend relying on it all the time, as you may not have access.

While the park has done its best to provide limited cell coverage throughout the park, Kabetogama Lake and Rainy Lake have some coverage, but as you move east on the other lakes, it is more hit or miss. 

Plan to get out and enjoy the area’s natural beauty while being unplugged. Park rangers and visitor centers are available in case of emergencies.

A satellite communicator is also a great option to have in case of emergency, so you can reach emergency services. We love our Garmin inReach Mini 2!

backcountry campsite in Voyageurs National Park that includes a fire ring, bear pole, and tent spot
Our private, backcountry campsite at Voyageurs

5. You Don’t Mind a Little Insect Repellent

No matter what kind of adventure you have planned for your trip to Voyageurs National Park, insect repellent is an absolute must-have during the warmer months.

This beautiful park is teeming with nature and wildlife, which also includes plenty of bugs. Mosquitos, ticks, gnats, and more can make a day in the park much less enjoyable if you’re not prepared.

Luckily, there are many effective insect repellents available. To pretreat for protection against mosquitos, ticks, and other biting insects, we suggest using Permethrin spray on the clothing you plan to wear before heading out into the park. It lasts up to 6 weeks and offers long-lasting protection against various pests. 

Then, when you arrive and begin to explore the park, you can apply your favorite insect repellant to your skin.

If you plan to hike any trails, especially those in the “backcountry” that you’ll need a boat to access, you’ll want to wear pants tucked into your socks, no matter how hot it is. The ticks on these trails are some of the worst we’ve ever experienced. We could just see them piling up on the blades of grass along the trail, and made frequent stops along the way to remove pesky hitch-hikers. Shorts and sandals are not a good idea on those trails!

6. You Want to Experience Your Own Private Island

One of the most unique features of Voyageurs National Park is the opportunity to camp on small, secluded islands in the park’s lakes. These campsites are only accessible by boat, which makes them a popular choice for those who enjoy outdoor adventures and a bit of privacy.

The island campsites are a popular option for those who want to really get away. The islands provide a sense of exclusivity and isolation that can’t be found at other campsites. They are also less crowded and offer a peaceful retreat.

Despite their remote location, the island campsites in Voyageurs National Park are equipped with all the amenities you need for a comfortable stay, such as fire pits and picnic tables. They are also well-maintained and cared for by park rangers to ensure that visitors have a safe and enjoyable experience.

Some are set up for tent camping, while others are specifically designed to accommodate a houseboat! Spend some time in northern Minnesota in luxury on a houseboat on your own strip of national park lakefront at one of the great campsites.

If you’re planning a camping trip in Voyageurs National Park, be sure to stay at one of the island campsites. Whether you’re looking to relax and unwind, explore the park’s many lakes, or enjoy some of the best fishing in the country, these campsites offer a truly unique and unforgettable experience. 

rushing water coming from the Kettle Falls Dam
Visit the Kettle Falls Hotel and view the Kettle Falls Dam

3 Reasons Voyageurs Might Not Be Worth Visiting for You

If you’re considering a trip to Voyageurs National Park, there are a few things you should consider before making the trip. While the park is stunningly beautiful and offers plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation, it may not be worth visiting for everyone.

1. You Get Motion Sickness on the Water

If you’re considering visiting Voyageurs National Park and you get motion sickness on the water, it’s important to take this into account when planning your trip. The park is known for its stunning views of lakes Kabetogama and Rainy, and visitors often take water taxis or guided boat tours to explore the area. Unfortunately, these can be a bit too much for those prone to motion sickness.

To really enjoy and explore the park, we definitely recommend taking a tour of the park on a boat. Whether that’s just a short and leisurely trip to the Ellsworth Rock Gardens or a longer trip out to the Kettle Falls Hotel, you really need to get out on the water to enjoy it.

While there are certain remedies for those who do get motion sick out on the water, if you really can’t stand being in a boat, visiting Voyageurs may not be worth it for you.

2. You Only Have 1 Day to Visit

Visiting Voyageurs National Park in only one day can be challenging. It will only give you a taste of what the park has to offer. Although it’s tough to have time to explore everything at any of the national parks across the United States, Voyageurs is quite spread out and boat travel makes things even more difficult.

A trip to Voyageurs National Park isn’t complete without taking in its breathtaking night sky views, and if you only plan a day trip, you’ll miss out on those views! Thanks to its remote location near Canada’s border, light pollution is almost nonexistent so star gazing is a popular activity among park visitors.

Because it is so far north and farther from major cities, you’ll want to make sure you have at least a few days, or even a week, to plan a Voyageurs itinerary.

3. You need 5-Star Amenities

While Voyageurs National Park has many natural wonders to explore, visitors should be aware that there are limited amenities within the park. Some of the amenities that are available are not as common or readily available as in other parks.

For instance, there are no stores or restaurants within the park itself, so visitors need to bring all of their own supplies and food. While there are a few small towns and resorts located just outside the park, they can be quite a distance from some of the more remote areas of the park. As such, it’s important to plan and pack accordingly.

As far as overnight accommodations, the only hotel in the park is the Kettle Falls Hotel. While staying there can be a great experience, you might have a hard time getting cell service there. Bathrooms are shared, and the food is basic. It’s not a 5-star resort!

Additionally, there are limited medical facilities available within the park, so visitors should come prepared with any necessary medications or first aid supplies. While park rangers are available to offer assistance in emergencies, medical care may require a trip to a hospital outside the park.

However, this is part of what makes the park so unique – visitors can have a true wilderness experience under the stars with limited distractions from daily life.

A dirt road leads back to the Kettle Falls hotel with it's red roof and white siding
We spent the night at the Kettle Falls Hotel and it was a unique experience, stepping back in time.

Where to Stay Near Voyageurs

Voyageurs National Park is a stunning natural paradise that should be on everyone’s bucket list. But if you’re planning a trip to the park, you’ll need to know where to stay. Fortunately, there are several great lodging options in the area ranging from cabins and campsites to resorts and hotels.

While we would definitely recommend camping in the park, we realize that not everyone wants to camp, or you might not be able to bring all of your camping gear on your trip if you’re flying.

If you’d rather stay in a hotel or resort, check out International Falls – one of the closest towns to Voyageurs National Park. Here you’ll find a variety of accommodation options from budget-friendly motels to luxurious bed & breakfasts. 

We’d recommend staying at the Cantilever Hotel, a boutique hotel with prohibition-era influences. Now, there is an on-site distillery!

No matter what type of lodging you choose near Voyageurs National Park, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. So make sure to plan ahead and book your stay early.

Voyageurs National Park is absolutely worth visiting for those who enjoy camping and spending time on the water. From its vast wilderness to its unique camping experiences and excellent fishing, the park offers a unique getaway opportunity.

While the park may have some logistical limitations and challenges, the stunning scenery, wildlife, and sense of solitude that can be found in this remote corner of Minnesota more than make up for any potential inconveniences for most visitors. Whether you’re an experienced outdoor enthusiast or just looking for a place to enjoy a relaxing retreat in the midst of nature, Voyageurs National Park provides an experience that you won’t soon forget.