National Geographic and Heart of the Continent Partnership Introduce Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide and Website

Geotourism: Tourism that sustains or enhances the geographical character of a place — its environment, culture, aesthetics, heritage and well-being of its residents Travelers seeking unspoiled places and culturally authentic experiences now have a valuable new resource in a comprehensive “Geotourism MapGuide” and website for the Heart of the Continent region. The landmark project has taken two years to plan and execute and is a historically significant asset for everyone who visits or lives in the region.

The Geotourism MapGuide, with its Heart of the Continent Mobile App, highlights the enchanted landscapes and enduring people of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario. It is designed to showcase to local, national and international audiences the natural, cultural and historic attractions that define the region.

Roll-out events are planned for the Heart of the Continent Geotourism Mapguide and website:

  • March 19, 10:00 AM at Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, Minnesota
  • March 19, 4:00 PM at Grand Portage National Monument in Grand Portage, Minnesota
  • March 20, 10:00 AM at Fort William Historical Park in Thunder Bay, Ontario

All sites and attractions that have been nominated and now reside on the website are invited to attend and receive their certificate of participation from National Geographic Society. The keynote speaker is James Dion, Director of Tourism Programs, Maps Division for National Geographic Society.

National Geographic’s acclaimed mapmaking and sustainable tourism expertise helped produce the Geotourism website along with the U.S. Forest Service, Ontario Parks, Voyageurs National Park, Fort William Historical Park, Tourism Northern Ontario, Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation Board, Thunder Bay Tourism, St. Louis County, City of Duluth, Arrowhead Regional Development Corporation, Atikokan Economic Development Corporation and many others.


The Heart of the Continent area designated for the map stretches from the outer boundaries of Duluth, Minnesota northeast along the North Shore of Lake Superior to Thunder Bay and Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, then west to International Falls/Fort Frances and south along St. Louis County’s western border, including communities and private and public lands. Since the project was launched in February 2014, locals have nominated for inclusion more than 400 of their favorite points of interest; historic, cultural and natural landmarks; events; artisans; and attractions that capture the region’s unique character and beauty. The website may be viewed at Residents and visitors may continue to nominate new sites, events and special places for the website, which will be dynamic and constantly changing.

"The Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide and website showcase what makes the region so culturally and geographically significant,” said James Dion, Director of Tourism Programs, Maps Division for National Geographic Society. “More than ever, this project underscores the importance of connecting the local trans-border communities, smartly sharing the region’s tremendous scenic, historic and cultural assets, and helping them thrive together for future generations."

The Heart of the Continent Geotourism MapGuide:

  • Is one of only 22 Geotourism programs worldwide
  • Showcases many of the 400-plus sites nominated by local residents
  • Is a resource designed to improve local, rural economic development
  • Provides access to a niche national market of “geo-tourists”
  • Will grow with the addition of hundreds of more sites and events
  • Highlights the resources of the region encompassing a major portion of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario, including communities and over five million acres of public land
  • Provides a long-term resource for promoting the Heart of the Continent to the nation and the world.

"Heart of the Continent Geotourism partners see this project as a great opportunity to work closely with other groups to promote the region and its assets," said Paul Pepe, Tourism Manager for the City of Thunder Bay.

“The Geotourism strategy for the Heart of the Continent will strengthen the case for responsible, meaningful tourism by embracing all tourism assets uniquely distinctive to the locale. Effective stewardship of these economic assets will produce benefits in a way that encourages the type of investment needed to preserve our unique heritage. We’re thrilled to see the partnership that has developed with National Geographic and local organizations in this regard,” said Frank Jewell, St. Louis County Commissioner.

The National Geographic Society has worked with community-based alliances to develop similar Geotourism MapGuides and websites in other regions around the world. Geotourism MapGuide projects have been completed or are ongoing including in the Central Cascades (Oregon, Washington), Four Corners (Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah), Greater Yellowstone (Idaho, Montana, Wyoming), Lakes to Locks Passage (New York, Quebec), Newfoundland, Portugal’s Douro Valley, Redwood Coast (California), Sierra Nevada (California, Nevada), and the Western Balkans (Albania, Bosnia-Herzagovina, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo and Serbia.)

Founded in 1915 as the Map Department of the National Geographic Society, National Geographic Maps is responsible for illustrating the world around us through the art and science of mapmaking. Today, National Geographic Maps continues this mission by creating the world’s best wall maps, outdoor recreation maps, travel maps, atlases and globes that inspire people to care about and explore their world. For more information, visit



Chris Stromberg

HOCP Coordinator

807 598-1074 RESOURCES

Oberholzer Trail Highlight; Voyageurs Winter Ice and Trail Conditions Report - Feb. 4, 2015

Grab a pair of snowshoes and experience the 2 mile round-trip Oberholtzer Trail. Visitors to the park often hike this trail in summer due to its convenient location - near the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. In winter, the ice and snow cover creates a completely different trail experience. Oberholzer Trail in Winter

The Oberholtzer Trail was named after conservationist Ernest Oberholtzer, who lived not far from the doors of the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. Ober (as he was known) built his home on Mallard Island in 1915. Years earlier, Ober met an Ojibwe Indian guide - Billy Magee and became fast friends. They traveled, by canoe, thousands of miles throughout the area and into Ontario, Canada.

American explorer, author and conservationist Ernest Oberholtzer (right) with dog Skippy and Ojibwe trapper and guide Billy Maggie (left) holding cabbage.

After years of travel with his Ojibwe companion, Ober realized the area should be set aside for all to enjoy and spearheaded a movement to stop dam development in the region. Oberholtzer’s persistence led to the passage of the Shipstead-Newton-Nolan Act in 1930. This legislation, based largely on Ober’s alternative plan for the region, prohibited the changing of water levels in the Superior National Forest. It was the first legislation ever passed by the U.S. Congress that mandated wilderness values on federal lands.

Ober and the many other conservationists, with whom he worked, were successful in setting aside nearly three million acres of wilderness known today as the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Many of his fellow conservationists would later help establish Voyageurs National Park.

After enjoying the Oberholtzer Trail, if you need a little more adventure, snowshoe across landscapes under water spring, summer, and fall; trek across frozen wetlands, across lake ice, and around the nearby islands for a unique winter view. On Saturdays, starting February 7, join a ranger to explore these different frozen landscapes, the history the snow shrouds, and the wildlife that adapts, survives, and thrives, during northern Minnesota’s winters.

The park has a variety of snowshoes styles and snowshoe sizes for all ages to enjoy. They are free-of-charge (donations welcome) and can be checked-out at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center Wednesdays through Sundays from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

The most up to date winter trail conditions are available at

Snowmobile Trails

Pressure ridges, places lake ice has buckled or heaved due to winds or currents, have developed both on and off designated snowmobile trails within Voyageurs National Park. Pressure ridges have settled down but will continue to be monitored. Slush conditions have gotten better with the lower temperatures but pockets of slush exist off the trails. Trails are rerouted as hazards are found, but visitors are encouraged to check each pressure ridge prior to crossing due to changing conditions.

  • International Falls to Kettle Falls (Purple Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • Rainy Lake/Black Bay to Kabetogama Lake to Ash River (Green Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • Ash River to Crane Lake (Green Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • Chain of Lakes (Dashed Black Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • Ash River to Kettle Falls (Yellow Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed
  • East Namakan Lake to Sand Point Lake (Blue Trail) – Open, staked, and groomed

Ice Roads

  • Rainy Lake Ice Road – Open to Cranberry Bay and around Dryweed Island
  • Kabetogama Lake Ice Road – Open

Ski Trails

  • Echo Bay Ski Trail – Open, packed, and tracked
  • Black Bay Ski Trail – Open, packed, and tracked – Pine Loop rocky in places.
  • Tilson Connector Trail – Open, packed, and tracked
  • KabAsh Trail – Open

Snowshoe Trails

  • Black Bay Beaver Pond Trail – Open, not packed
  • Blind Ash Bay Trail – Open, not packed
  • Oberholtzer Trail – Open, not packed
  • Sullivan Bay Trail – Open, not packed

Need to borrow cross-country skis or snowshoes? They're available at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center.



Voyageurs National Park’s Campsite Reservation Program Is Underway

Voyageurs National Park’s new reservation/fee amenity program is up and running on The 51 campsites on the reservation system are filling fast. Don't miss your opportunity to reserve yours! Here's how to find and reserve a campsite using the new system:

  • Where it says "Search for places and activities" choose Voyageurs National Park.
  • Select "Permits and Wilderness."
  • Then, select the area you are interested in.

You may also make a reservation using the National Call Center at 877-444-6777. Just ask for "permits."