Home Trips Destinations Guide To Canoe Tripping In Voyageurs National Park

Guide To Canoe Tripping In Voyageurs National Park

Feature photo: Robert Layton // @robs_travelss

Once a thoroughfare for French fur traders who traveled thousands of miles by canoe each summer, the interior of Voyageurs National Park in northernmost Minnesota remains accessible only by watercraft. Nearly 40 percent of this unique national park’s 218,000 acres is comprised of lakes and rivers, dotted with around 500 granite islands. Four vast interconnected lakes sprawl 56 miles along the Canadian border, and the Kabetogama Peninsula wilderness shelters chains of smaller lakes. So it’s no surprise the park is one of Minnesota’s most rewarding canoeing destinations. Tripping opportunities are diverse, with 655 miles of undeveloped shoreline to explore and 150 water-access campsites to pitch your tent on.

Often overshadowed by its famous neighbor, Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Voyageurs shares the same watershed, yet is one of the least-visited national parks in the Lower 48. Paddlers who visit will be rewarded with plenty of solitude, set amid a quintessential North Woods landscape. Loons trill haunting cries from one lake to the next, stately white pines mirror on tranquil waters, hidden waterfalls tumble over mossy boulders, and trophy walleye, northern pike and smallmouth bass swim just below the surface.

Unlike the Boundary Waters, motorized boats are allowed in Voyageurs, but exploring the secluded interior lakes is a quick way to leave the houseboats behind. Meanwhile, the park’s four big lakes—Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan and Sand Point—offer scenic paddling and uncrowded camping for folks who may not want to heft a canoe from lake to lake.

In this guide, we’ll cover Voyageurs National Park canoe trips for beginners and seasoned backcountry pros alike.

Photo: Peter MacMillan/Wilderness Inquiry

Visiting Voyageurs National Park

How to get to Voyageurs National Park

First of all, where is Voyageurs National Park located? Minnesota’s only national park sits at the top of the state, east of Lake of the Woods and bordering the Canadian province of Ontario. The international border extends through three of Voyageur’s largest lakes—Rainy, Namakan and Sand Point—forming the northern boundary of the national park. In fact, with proper planning and documentation, you can paddle across the border on an extended canoe trip.

Since the park is water-based, you may be wondering, can you drive to Voyageurs National Park? The answer is, yes—it’s about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Minneapolis-St. Paul (or a three-hour drive from Duluth) to reach park access points at Crane Lake, Ash River or Lake Kabetogama, all of which are easily accessible off U.S. Hwy 53. Add 45 minutes of travel time to the Rainy Lake Visitor Area, which is east of the city of International Falls, Minnesota.

Rather than trying to hurry from one part of the park to another, choose one area to explore for the most relaxing trip experience. There are no roads in the park interior, so plan to leave your vehicle at one of the visitor centers (parking is free) for the duration of your stay.

What makes Voyageurs National Park worth visiting?

Spectacular scenery, serene campsites, and a rich history make Voyageurs National Park a destination park that is well worth visiting. Voyageurs National Park canoe trips offer the best of both worlds—paddling the big waters of Kabetogama, Rainy and Namakan lakes, along with the smaller inland lakes on the wild Kabetogama Peninsula. Even better, paddlers who aren’t keen on shouldering their canoe between lakes can tap into the park’s supply of inland-lake canoes. This allows canoe trippers to explore the beautiful Chain of Lakes or Shoepack Lakes and enjoy pristine backcountry campsites, using a different canoe at each lake (you’ll still have to carry your camping gear across the portage trail).

Factor in the great fishing, access to hiking trails, and abundance of bald eagles and other wildlife—not to mention the astonishing nightly heavens of this International Dark Sky Park—and many canoe trippers find themselves returning to Voyageurs season after season.

Photo: Wade Watson/Voyageurs Adventures

How big is Voyageurs National Park?

Voyageurs National Park covers 341 square miles (218,200 acres), nearly 40 percent of which is water. The park extends 56 miles along the Minnesota-Ontario border, with four major lakes and 26 smaller lakes offering 655 miles of undeveloped shoreline.

The 1.1-million-acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is located just east of Voyageurs National Park. For a longer journey, experienced paddlers can plan extended Boundary Waters canoe trips that connect with canoeing Voyageurs National Park.

How many islands are in Voyageurs National Park?

There are more than 500 islands to explore in Voyageurs National Park. Less important than the exact number is the experience of paddling in this sprawling archipelago. Myriad islands stud the park’s four major lakes, inviting paddlers to explore sheltered channels and revel in the solitude of private island campsites. No two routes are ever the same through this island mosaic; just remember you’ll need to carry detailed navigational maps or charts to ensure a safe and enjoyable park experience.

How many waterfalls are in Voyageurs National Park?

Countless small falls spill over water-polished granite in Voyageurs National Park, inviting canoe trippers to discover as many of these hidden gems as they can find. One of the loveliest waterfall areas is accessible from the southwest corner of Namakan Lake, at the head of Junction Bay. Paddle up the bay to where the Johnson River flows into Namakan Lake in a series of cascades known as Junction Bay Falls. The falls are especially scenic in autumn when the surrounding forest is ablaze with red maples and golden aspens.

Another rewarding area for waterfall-hunters is the Gold Portage between Kabetogama Lake and Black Bay on Rainy Lake. This half-mile trail is also a terrific place to spot some of the park’s more elusive and iconic wildlife such as moose, bears and maybe even wolves.

Voyageurs National Park northern lights

With its northern latitude and inky nights, Voyageurs National Park is one of the best places in Minnesota to see the northern lights—so much so, it’s a designated International Dark Sky Park. Here in the farthest reaches of the North Woods, far from any light pollution, the aurora borealis glimmers brighter and bolder than anywhere else in the Lower 48.

Photo: Erik Fremstad

Voyageurs National Park offers sweeping vistas of the night sky from its expansive lakes, rewarding campers with unrivaled stargazing and—if your visit coincides with a bump in solar activity—aurora viewing. The luminous swirls and waves are the result of space weather, primarily the solar wind stream and solar flares of the sun. Use a northern lights forecasting site like Spaceweather.com to predict aurora activity during your visit.

The aurora borealis are in no way seasonal—you can witness exceptional northern lights at any time of the year. Still, the early sunsets and long, star-filled nights of fall can make autumn canoe trips especially rewarding. For the best views, choose a campsite on the south shore of any of Voyageurs’ large lakes; as their name implies, northern lights are often most visible in the northern part of the sky.

Are dogs allowed in Voyageurs National Park?

Wondering if you can bring your canine pal along on your canoe trip? Good news—dogs are allowed at the 137 frontcountry campsites located on the shores and islands of Voyageurs National Park’s large lakes. Pets are not allowed at the backcountry sites located within the Kabetogama Pennisula.

Leashes are mandatory to keep your dog under control. It’s critical to take responsibility for your pet in the wilderness to keep them from disturbing the experience of other visitors and harassing wildlife. Always clean up your pet’s waste; domestic dogs can spread canine diseases that are deadly to wolves and other park wildlife.

For overnight trips, pack dog food in waterproof packaging and be sure to secure it well away from bears, just as you would human food. Be sure your dog’s vaccinations are up to date and travel with the appropriate paperwork. Include a few dog first aid items; talk to your veterinarian for suggestions before setting off on a trip.

Does Voyageurs National Park have cell service?

Like any remote area, cell service in Voyageurs National Park may be limited. Main tourist areas of the park, including the visitor centers, roadways, and surrounding communities are places to seek out if you do not have reception.

For safety, it’s good practice to carry a satellite communication device, such as an inReach, SPOT or satellite telephone for backcountry Voyageurs National Park canoe trips. Be sure you’re familiar with the technology before setting out, and check that your batteries are fully charged.

Photo: Lucy Cornwell // @lucy_cornwell77

Voyageurs National Park canoe routes

With hundreds of sprawling lake miles and over 150 canoe-access campsites, there are more than enough Voyageurs National Park canoe trip options to keep paddlers busy. Regardless of whether you plan to slip away for a week or two, or if you just want a taste of what the North Woods has to offer, you’ll find some great ideas for where to start below.

Remember that travel on the big lakes can be taxing or impossible due to high winds and waves, and weather can change suddenly. Be honest about your paddling skills and fitness when studying maps to plan a Voyageurs canoe trip. Think about your expectations; for example, do you want the focus of the trip to be fishing, relaxing, having fun as a family or pushing yourself to cover distance? Then develop an itinerary to match.

Visitor centers and local outfitters are excellent sources of route information. They know the lay of the land and can recommend the perfect route for your experience level and expectations.

Best Voyageurs Day Trips

Chief Wooden Frogs Islands

If you only have a day, explore the archipelago extending north to Chief Wooden Frogs Islands at the top end of Kabetogama Lake. Departing from the beach at Woodenfrog State Campground and Day-Use Area, the stretch offers scenic touring for all experience levels, including beginners. You might see loons and eagles, and the walleye fishing is superb. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the Hacksaw Pass day-use site just north of the islands. With good weather and a bit more time, you can continue on to the Gold Portage to stretch your legs and view the rushing rapids. Or make your way southwest into Tom Codd Bay to discover quiet, rocky wetlands and abundant wildlife.

Dryweed Island

For a rewarding day trip to Voyageurs National Park, launch from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center or the boat launch at the end of Highway 11 to reach this 2.75-mile-long island in Rainy Lake. With fair weather, you can paddle around the island in a day, taking a break at scenic day use picnic areas on the east end of the island and in Harrison Bay. Ridges rising up to 100 feet above the lake make up the core of the island, providing important forest bird breeding habitat. Stop off at Little American Island on your return paddle to walk the quarter-mile interpretive trail and learn about the mini gold rush that swept through here more than a century ago.

Best 2- to 3-day Voyageurs canoe trips

Anderson Bay

Anderson Bay is one of the most photographed areas of the park, with exposed white granite cliffs soaring 80 feet above the water and spectacular views of the bay and Rainy Lake from a two-mile hiking loop. Charter a water taxi from Ash River to cut more than 20 miles of open water paddling off your journey and make this canoe trip manageable in a long weekend (or allow five to six days for the 44-mile round trip paddle from the Ash River Visitor Center). Along the way you’ll also pass through Kettle Falls historic area and the secluded island campsites of Namakan Lake.

Grassy Bay

This out-and-back paddle from the Crane Lake Ranger Station travels through the less-visited eastern reaches of Voyageurs National Park, passing through Sand Point Lake and culminating in one of the park’s most impressive sights: the sheer, 125-foot granite cliffs of Grassy Bay. Pitch your tent at one of the campsites in nearby Brown’s Bay to enjoy the view of the cliffs turning rosy pink in late afternoon.

Best 4-day Voyageurs canoe trips

Chain of Lakes

Rated moderate-to-difficult, a canoe trip into Voyageurs’ Chain of Lakes combines the challenge of big water paddling on Kabetogama Lake with a strenuous paddle-and-portage route through the Kabetogama Peninsula’s smaller inland lakes. Launch from Woodenfrog State Forest Campground and cross to the trailhead for Locator Lake. Here, you’ll stash your boat and portage your gear 1.9 miles into Locator Lake, where you’ll find the first of the park’s backcountry-specific canoes, included with your camping reservation. Paddle across the lake to the campsite and spend the next two days exploring the peaceful daisy chain of War Club, Quill and Loiten lakes—all of which have their own canoes, so no heavy lifting is necessary.

Shoepack Lakes

Accessible from the south end of Kabetogama Lake, the intimate Shoepack Lakes offer an easy and enticing alternative for paddlers intent on exploring inland lakes in Voyageurs National Park. Starting at the Ash River Visitor Center, this beginner-friendly, out-and-back journey follows a protected channel to Lost Bay and the trailhead for Quarter Line, Jorgens and Shoepack lakes. Stash your canoe on the shore and make the 1.7-mile hike into beautiful Little Shoepack and Shoepack lakes, where you’ll find backcountry park canoes—and two lovely campsites—waiting.

Best 7-day Voyageurs canoe trip

Kabetogama Peninsula circumnavigation

At 70 miles give or take, circling the wild Kabetogama Peninsula is the ultimate Voyageurs National Park canoe trip challenge. It’s also the ideal way to experience all this beautiful park has to offer; reap the rewards of hidden campsites, spectacular night skies and great wildlife viewing opportunities on the remote shores of the park’s largest lake. Plenty of big water and wind exposure make this route best for intermediate canoe campers.

Voyageurs National Park camping

The allure of camping in Voyageurs National Park is that all of the park’s more than 200 campsites are accessible only by water. Canoe trippers can choose from two main options: first, bring your own canoe (or rent one nearby) and camp at frontcountry sites on the park’s large lakes—all 147 sites are directly accessible from any park boat launch. Alternatively, plan a hike-and-paddle camping trip into the 14 backcountry sites located on the small, secluded interior lakes of the Kabetogama Peninsula.

Frontcountry campers enjoy sweeping vistas from the shores and islands of the park’s large lakes—Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point and Crane—with the option to basecamp or paddle to a new campsite each night. The vast waters and myriad islands make for nearly infinite route options, with some campsites easily accessible within a half-mile of a park launch and others as far as 27 miles away from the nearest access point. Keep in mind that strong winds and waves on these large lakes can make it too dangerous to paddle, so planning extra time and having a backup plan in case of inclement weather is essential.

Photo: Ryan Brady/Wilderness Inquiry

Frontcountry campsites at Voyageurs National Park offer a very comfortable experience, especially for experienced canoe campers used to “roughing it.” All frontcountry campsites feature tent pads, picnic tables, bear-proof food lockers, pit toilets and fire rings, and many also have a dock for easy landing. Even better, sites are well-spaced to ensure privacy and seclusion.

Canoe campers seeking a more rugged and intimate experience on smaller waters can combine paddling and hiking in the Chain of Lakes or Shoepack Lakes areas of the Kabotogama Peninsula. Backcountry campsites located on these interior lakes require travel by water from any mainland boat launch to access the trailheads that lead to them. Arrange a water taxi, board a park tour boat, or paddle and leave your canoe or kayak secured at the landing. If you reach the trailhead with your own watercraft, it must be left at the trailhead and not portaged in. To prevent the spread of invasive aquatic species, access to backcountry-specific canoes at each lake is included with your camping reservation.

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The backcountry areas of Voyageurs National Park are wild, remote and breathtakingly beautiful. They offer more secluded and serene camping, hiking and canoeing experiences, since they are smaller, more protected and less traveled than the frontcountry lakes. Backcountry campsites offer limited amenities; you’ll find a pit toilet and fire ring but little else. Campers must bring their own bear-proof food containers or a length of rope to create a bear hang for food storage.

Whichever option you choose, visitors can camp in the park for 14 consecutive days and 30 calendar days each year. If you’re arriving by vehicle, it can be parked free of charge at a park visitor center for the duration of your trip.

Finally, if you’re looking for a drive-in campground, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources operates two vehicle-accessible primitive campgrounds just outside the national park—Woodenfrog State Forest Campground on Kabetogama Lake and Ash River State Forest Campground near the Ash River Visitor Center. Additionally, numerous resorts in gateway communities offer developed campsites for tents and RVs.

Photo: Andrew Parks

Reservations at Voyageurs National Park

One of the big differences between Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is the fact that you reserve its campsites rather than claim them on a first-come, first-served basis. Knowing ahead of time which campsite you’re getting provides many visitors with much-needed peace of mind—although it also means you’re restricted to camping at that particular site. Fortunately, there’s no such thing as a bad campsite in Voyageurs; wherever you land, you’re guaranteed spectacular vistas and quiet seclusion. And, unlike some parks, apart from the busiest holidays, you should have no trouble finding a site.

Campsite reservations are available online at Recreation.gov. Here you can view campsite info and photos, search for campsite availability, and build an itinerary showing mileage between sites. You can also make camping reservations through Recreation.gov’s national call center at 1-877-444-6777. Print your camping permit and bring it with you; campers are not required to check in or out at the park.

Frontcountry campsite fees range from $22 to $32 per night from May 15 to October 15; backcountry campsite fees for the same period are $30 per night (with canoe) or $16 per night (hike-in only). A $10 reservation fee applies for all bookings. There are no entrance fees for Voyageurs National Park.

Canoe rentals at Voyageurs National Park

Canoe rentals and water taxi service are available from outfitters and resorts at each of the park’s four gateway communities—Ash River, Crane Lake, International Falls and Lake Kabetogama. Along with basic canoe and kayak rentals, some of these outfitters can provide all-inclusive, complete outfitting packages that include everything you’ll need for a wilderness adventure. They also have the expertise to assist with route and campsite selection. Many Voyageurs outfitters also provide (or can help you arrange) water taxi boat shuttles to reach farther flung areas of the park.

Photo: Anderson’s Canoe Outfitters

For canoe trips into Voyageurs National Park’s interior lakes and backcountry campsites on the wild Kabetogama Peninsula, the park has a limited number of canoes available for rent through the Backcountry Canoes on Interior Lakes program. The Park Service only rents canoes that remain stationed in the backcountry; these cannot be portaged to other areas. This is to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species from the park’s large lakes into the pristine waters of its backcountry lakes. It’s important to note that visitors arriving with their own watercraft—or canoes rented outside the park—are not permitted to portage these into the interior lakes.

Voyageurs Outfitters

With convenient access to the Rainy Lake Visitor Area of the park, Ranier-based Voyageurs Outfitters provides customized outfitting for canoe trips throughout Voyageurs National Park. Along with multiday canoe rentals, they offer complete outfitting packages, a water taxi service and trip-planning assistance. If you’re only visiting for the day, inquire about their self-guided interpretive day trip on Rainy Lake.

Rainy Lake Aquatics

Based in Ranier, Rainy Lake Aquatics is another fine option for canoe and kayak rentals on Rainy Lake. This outfitter works in partnership with Rainy Lake Charters to shuttle you and your rental equipment to the campsite of your choice—perfect for those who have limited time or are eager to explore harder-to-reach areas of the park.

Northern Lights Resort & Outfitting

On Lake Kabetogama, Northern Lights Resort and Outfitting rents out canoes, sea kayaks, tandem kayaks, fishing kayaks and paddleboards, with daily rates available.

Arrowhead Lodge

The family-owned Arrowhead Lodge on Lake Kabetogama offers canoe and kayak rentals for trips departing from the resort. The knowledgeable owners are happy to assist with trip planning and help you choose the best route for your group.

Anderson’s Canoe Outfitters

Based in Crane Lake, Anderson’s Canoe Outfitters has over 60 years of experience outfitting canoe adventures in the Boundary Waters, Voyageurs National Park and Canada’s Quetico Park. In addition to canoe rentals, they can rent camping equipment and have a shop filled with last-minute supplies to complete your trip.

AshKaNam Resort

Situated on the Ash River just a few minutes from Voyageurs National Park, AshKaNam Resort offers daily canoe rentals for trips departing from the Ash River Visitor Area.

Guided trips

First-time canoe trippers, families and experienced campers alike will enjoy a guided canoe trip in Voyageurs National Park. For those with limited time, a guided trip makes for a simple, hassle-free vacation. All gear and meals are provided, and the route planning and permits are taken care of. Perhaps best of all, you’ll gain the valuable insight of your experienced guide, with the opportunity to learn more about park landscapes, wildlife and history.

Voyageurs Adventures

Consider Kabetogama-based Voyageurs Adventures if you’re a die-hard angler looking for an all-inclusive, guided Voyageurs canoe trip with lots of great fishing and an insider scoop. Day trips and guided camping tours are available.

Voyageurs Guide Service

Based in Crane Lake, this outfitter offers personalized guided canoe and boat trips in Voyageurs National Park and the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Their guides will teach you the camping and paddling skills you’ll need for future trips, while providing insight into the local history and your natural surroundings.

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Wilderness Inquiry

Minneapolis-based Wilderness Inquiry is a long-standing Voyageurs National Park canoe guide service delivering five-day family and women’s canoe trips on Kabetogama Lake. Explore waterfalls, hidden coves, trails and wildlife hot spots along the way. Guests learn new paddling skills in fast and stable 24-foot North canoes, tracing the path of the 18th-century French-Canadian fur traders for which the park is named. Several departure dates are offered throughout the summer months.

Voyageurs National Park map

When it comes to hard-copy maps for canoeing Voyageurs National Park, paddlers have a variety of options: National Geographic produces an excellent waterproof map for Voyageurs National Park with all the campsites, portages, day-use and houseboat sites marked. McKenzie Maps and Fisher Maps also produce Voyageurs National Park maps as well as coverage of the adjacent Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Another unique option is True North Maps. These field-ready cloth maps are screened on durable, functional bandanas, providing an additional layer of versatility—and a neat conversation starter around the campfire.

All these maps can be purchased online and many are also available at park visitor centers or from local outfitters.

Paddlers looking for basic park maps to aid with trip planning can view interactive campsite maps and download a copy of the general Voyageurs National Park map from the park website. These tools provide a good overview of park geography and attractions, but should not be used for navigation.

Voyageurs National Park animals

When you venture into the North Woods of Voyageurs National Park, you are entering the domain of wildlife (and bugs!). But you need not be afraid of bears and mosquitoes—just be aware, pack the right gear, take a few simple precautions and feel fortunate to be part of the wilderness.

The park is home to nearly 50 species of mammals. Sun-basking otters, stately bald eagles, howling wolves, prehistoric sturgeon, industrious beavers, reclusive bobcats and many other types of animals live among Voyageurs’ diverse habitats. With more than 200 resident bird species, Voyageurs National Park is also a bird-watching paradise. Pick up a local bird checklist, bring binoculars and a field guide, and get ready to update your life list.

Photo: Anderson’s Canoe Outfitters

Voyageurs National Park serves as an important refuge for moose. The intimate lakes and wetlands of the Kabetogama Peninsula are the best places to see a moose—especially at dawn and dusk. Moose are most commonly observed during black fly and mosquito season, typically June, when insect pests drive them to seek respite in open areas. With warmer summers and less snow, moose face big challenges due to climate change—give them a wide berth and observe them from afar to minimize your impacts on their routine.

Several wolf packs also roam throughout the park, however encounters with humans are exceedingly rare. They are especially secretive in the summer months when packs are raising young. Hearing the stirring call of a wolf pierce the evening silence is a very special Voyageurs privilege, indeed.

Bears in Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs boasts a healthy population of black bears, which serve as a good indication of a pristine natural environment. Black bears do their best to avoid humans, so encounters are unlikely. However, a few precautions will keep you and your food safe. Use bear-proof food lockers and bear poles where available, and read Bear Safe Hanging Tactics to learn how to safely hang your food.

Places to stay near Voyageurs National Park

Lodging options within Voyageurs National Park are limited to basic campsites and the historic Kettle Falls Hotel, both accessible only by boat. Just outside the park, however, you’ll find plenty of other accommodation options on offer in the nearby communities of Crane Lake, Kabetogama and International Falls. These are great places to stay before or after a trip, or serve as a base camp for day trips on nearby lakes. Choose from cozy cabins, waterfront lodges, resorts, boutique hotels and drive-in campgrounds.

Photo: Ryan Brady/Wilderness Inquiry

Inside the Park

Kettle Falls Hotel

Isolated in the heart of Voyageurs National Park at the junction of Namakan and Rainy lakes, the historic Kettle Falls Hotel lies 13 miles by boat from the nearest road. Built by a timber baron in 1910, the hotel was an epicenter of bootlegging during prohibition. Choose from antique-filled rooms in the main building or a cabin that sleeps up to eight. There’s also a dining room and the original on-site saloon retains its uneven wood floors with pockmarks from the loggers’ hobnail boots.

Crane Lake

Pine Point Lodge, Resort & Lakeview Motel

Paddlers exploring the eastern end of the park can choose from two lakefront locations at the well-appointed Pine Point Lodge, Resort & Lakeview Motel in Crane Lake. The Lakeview Motel offers easy vehicle access and waterfront cabins or motel rooms right in the community of Crane Lake. Alternatively, treat yourself to a lakeside housekeeping cottage, room or houseboat on a private peninsula one mile across the water and reached via boat shuttle.

Cabins on Crane

Cabins on Crane offers family-friendly cabins and cottages right on the shores of Crane Lake, with access to a private boat launch and free use of canoes, kayaks and bicycles for guests. Expect a rustic yet modern ambiance with all the comforts of home.

Scott’s Peaceful Valley Resort

Living up to its name, Scott’s Peaceful Valley Resort is a laid-back, kid-friendly option in Crane Lake. Cozy cabins, serene views, a sandy swimming beach and a playground make this a family favorite.

Voyagaire Houseboats & Lodge

Voyagaire Houseboats & Lodge offers top-rated luxury houseboat rentals for exploring Voyageurs National Park, as well as a comfortable new lodge with 14 pet-friendly guest rooms nestled among the pines. The lodge’s restaurant and lakeside patio also make a great place to grab a tasty meal before or after your canoe trip.

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Ash River

AshKaNam Resort

Situated on the Ash River just a few minutes from Voyageurs National Park, AshKaNam Resort is a fine option for paddlers planning to start or finish their trip from the park’s Ash River Visitor Center. Family-owned and operating year-round, this fishing resort offers log cabin rentals, condos and hotel rooms, as well as a full-service restaurant.


Overlooking beautiful Kabetogama Lake and within striking distance of the alluring wilderness of the Kabetogama Peninsula, it’s no surprise the community of Kabetogama supports a wide selection of well-established resorts and campgrounds. Start your search below, or find more options here.

Pine Aire Resort

Pine Aire Resort has a prime location right on the lake, just a six-minute walk from the Kabetogama Visitor Center. With 20 cabins, a campground and a sandy beach, it’s a perfectly located home base for visiting Voyageurs National Park.

Grandview of Lake Kabetogama

Grandview of Lake Kabetogama offers five quiet, cozy cabins with fantastic views of its namesake lake. All the cabins are steps from the water and have fully equipped kitchens, large decks and modern amenities.

Arrowhead Lodge

Located adjacent to Woodenfrog State Campground and Day-Use Area, family-run Arrowhead Lodge offers classic waterfront cabins and cozy rooms in the rustic log lodge. It also offers outfitting and canoe/kayak rentals for trips into the national park.

Idlewild Resort

For a bit of pre- or post-trip pampering, look no further than Idlewild Resort. Each of the resort’s 11 housekeeping cabins offers easy lake access, full kitchens and spacious sun decks. There’s also a heated swimming pool, spa and game room on-site.

Photo: Anderson’s Canoe Outfitters

International Falls/Rainy Lake

The city of International Falls provides a convenient launch pad for forays into the west side of Voyageurs National Park. Choose from lakefront resorts and lodging just minutes from the Rainy River Visitor Center, or settle into a modern hotel in downtown International Falls.

Island View Lodge

The Island View Lodge is just a three-mile drive from Rainy Lake at the entrance to the national park. The resort offers delicious meals, lodge rooms with spectacular lake views, and private lakefront cabins to suit groups of all sizes. From the shore, guests can see Little American Island, the historic isle where a short-lived gold rush took place.

Cantilever Hotel & Distillery

The closest hotel to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center is the Cantilever Distillery & Hotel, which sits 10 miles (15 minutes) away in the historic village of Ranier. It’s a modern and upscale boutique hotel with just 31 rooms, a rooftop hot tub and sauna, free weekly yoga classes for guests, and an on-site distillery where you can enjoy a craft cocktail made from Minnesota grain.

Falls Motel

Looking for a more affordable place to crash on your way to or from the park? The Falls Motel on Highway 53 southbound in International Falls has some of the most budget-friendly rooms in the area. It’s a clean, no-frills roadside motel that gets the job done, with breakfast muffins and an airport shuttle service.

As you’ve seen, the depths of Voyageurs National Park are vast, and this is just a slice of all there is to explore in Minnesota.

Feature photo: Robert Layton // @robs_travelss




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