Quick Links

Travel to Minnesota all the way up to where America meets its friendly northern neighbor, Canada, and one will find Voyageurs National Park. Voyageurs is famous for its outstanding bodies of water and is a magical place to explore by kayak, canoe, or other boats. Most of the area of the park is made up of the Kabetogama Peninsula, and most of the land area of the park is only accessible by water.

There are many reasons why Voyageurs National Park is so amazing, but one will need to get a boat to find out why. Voyageurs is a great part of any ultimate Midwest national park road trip, and it offers much of the same scenery that Canada does across the border.


Voyageurs National Park - The Ideal Boating Park

Voyageurs National Park was first established in 1975 and is a place best explored by boat (or snowmobile, skis, and snowshoes in the wintertime). The park is home to boreal and northern hardwood forests and miles of interconnected waterways. The lands east of the park are also great for exploring by boat and are part of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

  • Established: 1975
  • Visitors: Around 240,000 Yearly

It is one of the lesser visited national parks in the United States, attracting only around 240,000 visitors in 2018.

One can explore the park by hiking, but perhaps the best way to explore it with by houseboat, kayak, or even by a ranger-led boating tour.

Related: 10 National Parks In The US Worth Visiting Now (And 10 To See Later)

The National Park Service Offers Boating Tours

The National Park Service offers a few guided boat tours from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center, primarily from June to August. If one doesn't have a boat of one's own, then these can be a great way to explore the park. Their tours can be anything from a one-hour excursion to a full-day boating trip.

  • Season: Mostly June to August
  • Duration: Varies - One Hour to a Full Day

The ranger-led boat tours explore parts of the park that can only be accessed by boat. These include places like the former gold mine at Little America Island, Ellsworth Rock Gardens, and the Kettle Falls Hotel.

On the tour, keep one's eyes peeled for local North American wildlife like loons and bald eagles. To see their schedule or to make reservations for the boating tours, visit www.Recreation.gov or call them on 1-877-444-6777.

The tours are not free, and they do tend to sell out. So take care to plan ahead. It is also possible to get a walk-in ticket if there is still availability.

Examples Of Park Ranger-Led Guided Boat Tours

Little American Island Tour:

The NPS's Little American Island Tour takes guests to Little American Island at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. On reaching the island, passengers can disembark from the boat with a park ranger to tour the area's mining heritage.

  • Duration: 2 Hours
  • Distance: 20 Miles


  • Adult: $40.00
  • Child: $20.00 (Aged 3 to 16)

Related: Why The Murray River Is One Of The Most Underrated Parts Of Australia (For Outdoor Enthusiasts)

Kettle Falls Cruise (Kabetogama Lake):

The Kettle Falls Cruise starts at the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center and explores the cultural and natural history of the park. The tour includes a 2-hour ride to the hotel, then 2 hours exploring the site and dam, and then a 1.5-hour return ride.

There is also the option of dining at the Kettle Falls Hotel.

  • Duration: 330 Minutes
  • Distance: 40 Miles


  • Adult: $60.00
  • Child: $30.00 (Aged 3 to 16)

There are plenty of other park ranger-guided boating tours to choose from.

Other Boating Options At Voyageurs National Park

Another way to explore the park is by renting a houseboat. Houseboating is one of the fun and immersive ways to explore the park. There are houseboats available for rent just outside the park boundaries. Note that permit reservations are required for houseboating.

Houseboating.org is one of the several companies that offer fully self-contained houseboating tours.

For many, the best way to explore the park is by bringing (or renting) a canoe or kayak. The park is famous for its world-class sea kayaking and big water kayaking.

  • Kayak: Available For Rent

Voyageurs Outfitters is one company that offers kayak, canoe, pontoon, and other rentals. They also offer a range of guided boating tours of the national park.