Situated along the Canadian border in northern Minnesota, Voyageurs National Park is home to a stunning variety of lakes, forests, and islands. This remote park’s natural landscapes draws visitors hoping to experience unique wildlife and the serenity of nature. Once you’ve had your fill of Voyageurs National Park, head to the following nearby destinations to continue your trip.
Minneapolis, Minnesota – Head to the Twin Cities just 4.5 hours outside of Voyageurs National Park. Renowned for its parks, lakes, and stretch of the iconic Mississippi River, Minneapolis has much to offer visitors, from cultural landmarks to natural scenery.
Superior National Forest – 2.5 hours from Voyageurs National Park lies Superior National Forest. Situated along the shores of Lake Superior, this gorgeous national forest is a haven for nature enthusiasts, canoers, kayakers, and fishermen.
Winnipeg, Canada – Under 5 hours outside of Voyageurs National Park and across the border sits Winnipeg, Canada. The capital city of Manitoba, Winnipeg is home to historic and cultural sites, art galleries, shops, and restaurants. Don’t forget your passport!
Red Lake Reservation – Head to the Red Lake Reservation to experience fascinating history and breathtaking landscapes. The historic home to the Ojibwe people, Red Lake Reservation is just over 2 hours outside of Voyageurs National Park.
Isle Royale National Park – One of the most remote national parks in the country, Isle Royale National Park lies only 7.5 hours from Voyageurs National Park. Head to Isle Royale for pristine nature, spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities, fishing, canoeing, and more.
Voyageurs National Park protects a vast landscape in northern Minnesota, near the US/Canadian border. The park is home to a variety of wildlife, waterways, lakes, and forests that draw visitors from around the country. If it’s your first time visiting Voyageurs National Park, you’ll want to be sure to explore the main points of interest!
Ash River Visitors Center
Situated in the historic Meadwood Lodge, the Ash River Visitor Center offers a variety of resources to park visitors. Watch an informational film, speak with a park ranger, and learn more about the history and features of the park. Ash River Visitors Center includes a boat launch and paddle launch area as well.
Ellsworth Rock Gardens
Created by Jack Ellsworth on the north shore of Kabetogama Lake, the Ellsworth Rock Gardens comprise a gorgeous terraced rock garden worth visiting. Rife with flowers and sculptures, the gardens are one of Voyageurs National Park’s main points of interest.
One of the more noteworthy lakes in this largely water-based park, Rainy Lake offers visitors a variety of activities. Hiking trails and boat tours are available, and the Rainy Lake Visitor Center offers guests a chance to learn more about the park and speak to a ranger to help plan their trip.
A gorgeous lake in Voyageurs National Park, Namakan Lake is dotted with small scenic islands. Perfect for boating, canoeing, fishing, hiking, and exploring, this lake offers visitors endless outdoor activities to enjoy.
Kettle Falls now consists of a large scenic dam that replaced the original waterfalls once in its place. The powerful dam is a result of the waters of Namakan Lake entering Rainy Lake, creating a truly breathtaking feature in Voyageurs National Park. Visit the historic Kettle Falls Hotel nearby for a charming dose of history.
Situated in northern Minnesota alongside the Canadian border, Voyageurs National Park protects a vast amount of forests, lakes, and waterways. Visitors to Voyageurs National Park should take the necessary safety precautions to ensure a smooth trip.
Weather in Voyageurs National Park can change dramatically and without warning, so it’s best to be prepared for anything. Bring sturdy, waterproof hiking shoes and wear plenty of layers to easily adapt to changing weather conditions. Winter in the park can be excruciatingly cold, so if you plan to visit during the winter months, come prepared with sufficient clothing.
You’re likely to encounter your share of wildlife when visiting Voyageurs National Park. Never approach or feed wildlife, and always maintain a safe distance from all wild animals. Make sure to store your food, trash, and scented items securely when visiting the park to avoid bears and unwanted visitors.
Much of Voyageurs National Park must be explored via water. As a result, water and boating safety are imperative to ensure a safe visit. Be aware of common lake buoys and markers. Some park activities require a permit, including camping and a Minnesota fishing license for fishing.
The American Midwest road trip takes you across much of the country’s heartland and to several underrated national parks. Find out what makes these natural treasures among the most interesting places to explore in America.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Begin your road trip just 20 miles south of Cleveland at Cuyahoga Valley National Park, a verdant oasis compared to city life. The Cuyahoga River cuts through the valley, and the park encompasses around 33,000 acres of pristine forests and fertile farmlands. Ohio residents are rewarded with endless outdoor recreation that includes hiking, fishing, kayaking, skiing, and more. The park also reveals the foundations of the Ohio & Erie Canal and its importance to America’s growth and expansion. You can trace the canal’s original 19th-century path by venturing down the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Ride the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad for glimpses of the lush forest or watch Brandywine Falls plunge against the cliffside.
Mammoth Cave National Park
The next stop along your road trip is Mammoth Cave National Park. Kentucky doesn’t always fall into the Midwest category, but Mammoth Cave was worth adding to the itinerary. Featuring the largest known cave network in the world, this park opens your eyes to the geological wonders beneath the surface. The immense network contains more than 400 miles of caves, and more passageways are discovered every year. Guided cave tours reveal striking limestone formations in passageways like Diamond Caverns and Crystal Onyx Cave. Above ground, Mammoth Cave houses a diverse variety of plants and wildlife residing in the lush woodlands. Hikers can wander through 80 miles of trails, and the park’s waterways give you access to kayaking and boating excursions.
Gateway Arch National Park
Continue on to Gateway Arch National Park. This engineering feat is one of the rare national parks located smack dab in the middle of a bustling metropolis. The memorial honors the Lewis & Clark Expedition and the duo’s quest to map the uncharted territories acquired with the Louisiana Purchase. In addition to honoring American pioneers, the gateway arch remembers the controversial Dred Scott case that sparked the debate over slavery. Perched along the Mississippi River, the arch is unquestionably the most recognizable symbol of St. Louis, Missouri. Make sure to stop by the visitor center beneath the arch to view the exhibits on westward expansion and the arch’s creation. For the grand finale, ride the elevator to the top of the 630-ft arch for remarkable views of the Old Courthouse.
Indiana Dunes National Park
The next stop on your road trip is Indiana Dunes National Park. One of America’s newest national parks, Indiana Dunes sits on the shores of Lake Michigan and is an outdoor lover’s paradise. Wander the sandy beaches to find incredible wildlife, hike the steep dunes, and fish on its scenic waterways. The Little Calumet River is the ideal place to begin your adventure with its top-notch fishing spots and enchanting forests along the water. Bikers have access to the Calumet and Porter Brickyard Trails for exhilarating runs through temperate forests. Mount Baldy is among the park’s more challenging treks, but a swimmable beach provides a refreshing way to cool off. Glenwood Dunes Trails welcomes horseback riders, and snowshoeing comes alive during winter.
Isle Royale National Park
From Indiana Dunes, head to Isle Royale National Park in Northern Michigan. Isle Royale ranks as the least visited national park in the United States due to its remote location. The island is roughly 45 miles long, 9 miles wide, and is the largest in Lake Superior. Ferries are available to reach the island, and you can park your car at Hat Point Marina. Once you reach Isle Royale, rugged wilderness and complete solitude awaits. The park includes more than 160 miles of hiking trails, and there are hundreds of smaller islands to explore. Renting a canoe, kayak, or motorboat is the best way to navigate the waterways at your pace. There are no cars allowed inside the park which increases the odds of encountering wild animals.
Voyageurs National Park
Finally, you’ll arrive at Voyageurs National Park. Prepare to trade your car for a boat or kayak once again as you meander along the waterways of this park. This complex water-based transport system guided French-Canadian fur traders who traversed the paths centuries ago. There are only a few public access roads within the park and renting a boat or kayak will be essential to getting around. The park encompasses thousands of lakes and islands that are connected by the vast water highways. Rainy Lake, Kabetogama Lake, Namakan Lake, and Sand Point Lake are the primary bodies of water, and several sit on the United States-Canada border. The interconnected lakes attract anglers and boaters, hikers head to the interior peninsula, and some visitors camp within the boreal forests dotting the islands.
When to Go
If crowds don’t bother you, then summer provides suitable weather conditions for each park on your itinerary. You’ll have an easier time getting around in spring and fall due to the shoulder seasons’ thinner crowds. The winter can be brutal at each park, and you face the possibility of adverse road conditions in sub-freezing temperatures. Overall, spring or fall offers the best combination of gorgeous scenery, fewer crowds, and comfortable temperatures.