Voyageurs National Park Association is the nonprofit partner of Voyageurs National Park. The following information is a guide to help you to plan a trip to the park. Information is subject to change. If you have specific questions, please refer to the National Park Service website, download a Visitor Guide (PDF), or speak directly with park staff by calling 218-286-5258 or 1-888-381-2873.
Know Before You Go!
There is no entrance fee at Voyageurs National Park.
If you wish to camp in the park, advanced reservations are required prior to your arrival. Detailed instructions on making a campsite reservation, as well as other options for camping and lodging nearby are found on our Camping & Lodging page.
Some park activities and events, such as boat tours, also require a reservation and vary in price. Check out our calendar of upcoming events for details.
Park Location and Features
Voyageurs National Park is located in the lake country of northern Minnesota. It is about a five-hour drive from the Twin Cities (or a three-hour drive from Duluth) to the shores of Crane Lake, Ash River, or Lake Kabetogama. Add 45 minutes to reach Rainy Lake, which is east of the city of International Falls.
The park spans 218,054 acres and includes 84,000 acres of water, many miles of undeveloped shoreline, and hundreds of islands. It includes a number of large lakes, suitable for boaters and paddlers. There are also many smaller “interior lakes” on the Kabetogama Peninsula.
The park’s 55-mile northern boundary is the international border between the U.S. and Canada. This includes an important segment of the “transcontinental highway” traversed by French-Canadian voyageurs during the late 1700s and early 1800s.
What Makes Voyageurs Unique?
The exposed rocks in Voyageurs National Park are some of the oldest in the world (2.8 billion years!) They are even older than the rocks at the bottom of the Grand Canyon. Glaciers, more than a mile high, scoured out the lake and riverbeds here and set the stage for vast forests. It is an exceptionally beautiful landscape.
The park is located where the southern boreal forest meets and mixes with the northern hardwood forest, providing vitally important habitat for wildlife. Voyageurs National Park is one of only two National Parks in the continental United States with a native population of Eastern timber wolves. It is also a great place to see bald eagles, pelicans, osprey, loons, otters, or catch a prize-winning fish.
Voyageurs is also rich in history and unique destinations, including the Kettle Falls Hotel, Ojibwe Ethnobotanical Garden and the Ellsworth Rock Gardens. And it offers a wealth of family-friendly activities. Summer visitors can enjoy boating, fishing, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, or guided tours and activities. Winter visitors drive the park’s ice roads, explore by snowmobile, cross-country ski, or snowshoe, and enjoy ice fishing.
Do you only have a short time to explore the park? Grab a Hike to Health brochure and explore the park’s many hiking trails. Visit the Ethnobotanical Garden in summer or borrow a pair of snowshoes from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center in winter. Take a boat tour or try one of the park's other guided activities and programs.
Climate and Seasons
There are four distinct seasons in Voyageur country. The summer is warm, with water temperatures perfect for swimming. The average high temperature in July is 79 degrees F, with a low of 54 degrees F. Winters are very cold, and ice may be more than three feet thick, allowing for visitors to explore the park by snowmobile trail or ice roads.
Voyageurs’ lakes usually freeze in late November or early December, then thaw in April or early May. The average ice-out date is May 3rd but varies from year to year. Annual precipitation (rain and snow) averages 25-28 inches in the park and average snowfall ranges from 55-70 inches.
Make sure to check the current conditions and weather forecast when you plan your trip. During the spring and fall, there are periods when the lakes are not navigable because the ice is either not thick enough for travel or has not yet melted completely.
During the winter season, the most recent trail and ice conditions are available on our current conditions page. For weather conditions and forecasts in any season, the National Weather Service is an excellent resource. You may also stop in at a park visitor center to find out the most recent weather forecast.
There are three visitor centers at Voyageurs National Park – Ash River, Kabetogama and Rainy Lake Visitor Center. Only one, the Rainy Lake Visitor Center is open year-round. There is also a ranger station on Crane Lake. Hours vary, so please check the most current information by visiting the links below or calling the number listed.
- Rainy Lake Visitor Center (218) 286-5258
- Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center (218) 875-2111
- Ash River Visitor Center (218) 374-3221
- Crane Lake Ranger Station (218) 993-2481
There are three access roads into Voyageurs National Park, which go to its three visitor centers – Ash River, Kabetogama Lake and Rainy Lake. From here, you may leave your car and go for a hike, canoe, kayak, use your own boat, or take a guided boat tour. The communities of Crane Lake, Ash River, Kabetogama, Ranier, and International Falls offer a range of services for visitors. It is wise to bring maps and information with you when traveling to the park, as cell phone service may be spotty or unavailable in some areas.
If you wish to explore the Kabetogama Peninsula’s interior lakes, the peninsula can be reached by boat or water taxi (a service provided by nearby resorts and outfitters). Hike the access trails, then use canoes or rowboats provided by the National Park Service to explore the interior lakes. In order to prevent the spread of invasive species on the interior lakes, visitors leave their own boats behind at each trailhead and use Park Service canoes or rowboats to explore these lakes. Reserve these rowboats or canoes in advance.
Historic sites and visitor destinations such as the Ellsworth Rock Gardens are accessible by boat or by taking a guided tour of the park on one of the two park boats. The schedule of these tours is available on our events calendar or on the National Park Service website.
In the winter, the park also maintains two ice roads and a number of snowmobile, snowshoe and cross-country ski trails that link to nearby communities.
All activities considered to be a special event including but not limited to: public gatherings, wedding, commercial filming/photography, sporting events and outings sponsored by 501(c)3 nonprofit organizations that conduct activities requiring a participant fee, are required to obtain a Special Use Permit (SUP). Commercial activities in the park also require a permit. Have a large group or do you want to make a special event more memorable? It is possible to charter a park boat.
Protect your park for the future! Take only photographs. Damaging or removing park property is prohibited. For example, do not collect plants, animals, artifacts, rocks, driftwood, flowers or pine cones. You may harvest up to one gallon of berries for personal consumption. Carry out your trash and leave day-use sites and campsites just as beautiful as you found them.
Do not feed or approach wildlife for any reason. Be especially careful to avoid nesting birds on the shoreline. Black bears will typically avoid people, but it is very important to keep your food properly stored. All food, garbage, scented items, and cooking equipment must be stored in a vehicle, metal bear-proof locker, or hung at a minimum 10 feet high and 4 feet out from a pole or tree. Bears can easily open a cooler, even with rocks on the lid.
Hunting is not allowed in the park.
Firearms information: As of Feb. 22, 2010, federal law allows people who can legally possess firearms under federal, Minnesota, and local laws, and who possess a valid state permit to carry, to possess firearms in Voyageurs National Park. The laws of Minnesota prohibit the possession of rifles, shotguns or BB guns in public places, including Voyageurs National Park; federal law does not alter the existing regulatory restrictions on the use and possession of these firearms within the park. In addition, federal law prohibits possession of firearms on tour boats and certain facilities within the park, which are posted with signs at public entrances. For any questions, please contact the Chief Ranger at 218-283-6600.
Jet-skis and similar watercraft are prohibited in the park.
The weather can change rapidly. Please dress for the weather and bring extra layers with you, especially in the spring and fall when conditions for hypothermia are especially present. To prevent Lyme disease from ticks, wear long pants if you are planning to hike in tall grass. Check yourself for ticks after hiking. It is also recommended that you wear bug repellent to help deter mosquitoes. Black flies are sometimes present in the park, particularly in July and August. The best defense against black flies is to wear long sleeves and pants. Filter or treat water before drinking.
Help us prevent the spread of invasive species in the park.
- Prevent the spread of spiny water fleas. These are a species of zooplankton from Eurasia that threaten the park’s aquatic ecosystems by competing with native fish for food. Spiny water fleas and their eggs can be spread by bait buckets, anchor ropes, fishing line, boats, waders, nets and any other gear that has come in contact with infested waters. Because the park’s main lakes are infested, the park would like your help to prevent them from spreading into the interior lakes on the Kabetogama Peninsula. Leave your own boat behind and use National Park Service boats to explore the interior lakes.
- Emerald ash borer has devastated ash trees in Michigan and is spreading westward. Do not bring firewood into the park unless it has been purchased from a MN DNR approved vendor. You may collect dead and downed wood near your campsite.
- Eurasian watermilfoil is an aquatic plant that interferes with boating, fishing and swimming and crowds out native plants. Even tiny fragments of this plant can grow into a new plant. Remove all vegetation and clean your boat before moving it from one body of water to another.
- Rusty crayfish are more aggressive than native crayfish and can disrupt aquatic habitat. Never release any pet or aquarium species of crayfish. Using live crayfish for bait is prohibited.
For the safety of your pet, there are a few important rules to follow. Pets are only allowed in certain areas of the park. These include visitor center parking lots, and the 2-mile Oberholzer Trail adjacent to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. Pets are also allowed at campsites on the four major lakes of the park (referred to as frontcountry campsites), but not the backcountry campsites of the Kabetogama Peninsula.
Pets must be on a 6-foot leash, under control and attended to at all times. All excrement must be collected and disposed of properly in a trash receptacle. All pets must be vaccinated and possess a valid vaccination tag as required by Koochiching and St. Louis Counties.
Dog teams and dog sleds are permitted on frozen lake surfaces within the park when adequate ice and snow conditions are present. A written Special Use Permit is required for dog teams and dog sleds traveling on designated snowmobile portages. Please contact the park directly to obtain one.
International Border & Customs
Always know where you are on the water. Check with Canadian and U.S. Customs before crossing the international border. Canadian Customs services are available by water at Portage Bay on Sand Point Lake and by vehicle at the Crane Lake Public Landing and at the International Falls Bridge. If you plan to fish on the Canadian side, you will need a Canadian fishing license. For detailed information, please visit the National Park Service website.
Get Involved With Your Park!
Do you love Voyageurs National Park and wish to support enhanced youth programming, visitor services, environmental protection and wildlife research? Please consider becoming a member of Voyageurs National Park Association today or volunteer at an upcoming event. Thanks for your support.