Voyageurs National Park
Along the Rainy Lake Shoreline at Voyageurs National Park
Voyageurs National Park is a 218,200-acre property in northern Minnesota. The park was established in 1975 near the town of International Falls (famous for being one of the coldest localities in the lower 48 states). The park was established to preserve and protect some absolutely gorgeous real estate and to commemorate the French voyageurs who were the first Europeans to explore the area and get to know the locals. The major land area in the park is the Kabetogama Peninsula, totally within the park but accessible only by boat in the summer or across the ice in winter. Downstream to the east of the park in Superior National Forest is the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, one of the most popular wilderness areas in the United States.
The landscape of the park is part of the Canadian Shield. Billions of years ago the landscape was littered with volcanoes erupting beneath an ancient ocean. Over time that molten lava cooled and formed the Vermillion Batholith, an expanse of granitic rock that has been laid bare on the surface by eons of erosion of the original overlying rock. The Laurentia Craton (the Canadian Shield) is estimated to have been formed around 3.9 billion years ago, during the Archean Eon. Since then the jagged high volcanic peaks have been worn into a landscape of rolling hills and broken rocks that varies only a few hundred feet in elevation. Most recently (geologically speaking), the area was scraped bare by glaciers during the Ice Age and life has since reestablished itself on a clean slate. Most people come to Voyageurs to explore among the waters of the area.
An island in Rainy Lake
There are more than 50 miles of hiking trails in the park, many of those miles on long, backcountry trails in the interior of the park. The park also offers more than 270 campsites, most accessible only via water. There are backcountry campsites along some of the trails on the Kabetogama Peninsula.
Voyageurs National Park is open year round. The Rainy Lake Visitor Center is open daily (except Mondays, Tuesdays and Federal holidays) from 10 am to 4:30 pm from early January to late May. From late May to late September the visitor center is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm. From late September to early January the visitor center is open daily (except Sundays, Mondays and Federal holidays) from 10 am to 4 pm. The Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center is open daily from 9 am to 5 pm from late May to late September. The Ash River Visitor Center is open daily from 10 am to 4 pm from late May to late September. There is no entrance fee to the park but there are fees associated with camping.
Photos and maps courtesy of the National Park Service