Top Ten Offbeat Summer Parks

Voyageurs National Park
Fishing in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Fishing in Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota (NPS)

Voyageurs National Park

218,200 acres

238,000 annual visits

Attractions: Water and its various inland incarnations are what make Voyageurs such an attractive summer destination. The park is comprised of four main lakes, 30 smaller lakes, about 900 islands, and rolling hills interspersed between bogs, beaver ponds, and marshes along the Minnesota/Ontario border.

Abundant orchids and water lilies are a welcome sight during mid-summer visits. And if Voyageurs whets your appetite for paddling adventure, you can continue on to Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, which is adjacent to the east.

Activities: What do expect from a park named after canoe explorers? Canoeing and houseboating are the watchwords in this park. Canoes (and houseboats) can be rented from outfitters in Ash River. Fishing is also a big draw in the park—thousands of miles of forested shoreline will provide the backdrop as you hone your skills catching walleye, bass, and northern pike. However you will find hiking trails, and cross-country ski and snowmobile routes in the winter.

Finding Solitude: Boating is about the only means for exploring the 55- by ten-mile region bounded by the park, which is one reason why visitation remains consistently low. For those with canoe or sea kayak, a suggested route to seclusion is north from the Ash River Visitor Center across Kabetogama Lake to the Lost Bay trailhead. If you leave your boat you can then hike 4.5 miles to Cruiser Lake, or continue north to the Anderson Bay overlook on Rainey Lake.


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