|About the Site|
|Voyageurs National Park (10)|
There are virtually no roads at all in this park, so the visitor who wishes to explore the land portions of the park must travel by foot. There are approximately 32 miles of hiking trails in the park, including old "tote roads" built by the lumber industry years ago. The Ash River Falls Trail System, on trail of which is pictured below, contains about 12.5 miles of trails.
The trails in the park can be a little difficult to hike in some places, as they are fairly rocky. As always when hiking in the woods, it's a good idea to watch where you are going.
So much of the park is covered by water, so one of the predominant means of transportation is some sort of boat. Unlike the nearby Boundary Waters Canoe Area, the lakes in Voyageurs National Park permit motorized boats. The primary means of traveling to the Kettle Falls Hotel, for example, is via motorboat, which covers the trip across the park from the Ash River area to Kettle Falls in less than half an hour.
For the sport fisherman the vessel of choice is the motorized fishing boat, seen below. This enables the angler to move quickly from place to place on the lake, in relative comfort. The boat below floats in Rainy Lake north of American Channel.
However, when rain, wind, or thunderstorms come up these small craft can be tossed about by the choppy water.
Out in the center of a large lake like Rainy Lake it is possible to move quickly and safely in a motorboat. However, in the narrow channels between lakes and bays the water can be relatively shallow, and there are many rocks close to the surface which can damage the propeller of an outboard motor. Therefore, channels which can be safely followed are marked.
A channel between two areas of land can be seen below, photographed from a boat.
To aid in navigation in hazardous waters, a buoy system marks the channel. Buoys The red nun buoys are marked with even numbers and should be kept on the right when going up lake. One can be seen below.
Green can buoys are marked with odd numbers. They have to be kept on the boaters left when going up lake. This can be a little disconcerting at first, particularly when knowing that going on the wrong side of the buoy may result in the destruction of your outboard motor. But it becomes pretty routine very quickly.
One popular mode of transportation combines lodging and travel. Houseboats can be leased and used to travel about the lakes in the park. Visitors may often drag a fishing boat behind the houseboat which might provide access to areas unreachable with the bigger craft.
According the Rendezvous, a park brochure, a houseboats is defined as "motorized vessel that a person can walk through standing upright, from bow to stern, and that has sleeping facilities, a bathroom (permanent or portable), and cooking facilities." This pretty much describes what people can do with these crafts.
Some of these vessels have decks on top where people can lay in the sun or sightsee.
Many places in the park provide docks where 2 or 3 houseboats can dock. This houseboat is docked a short distance from the Kettle Falls Hotel.
There are several vendors which provide boat tours of the lakes in the park. In the picture below, one such boat is seen at the marina near the Rainy Lake Visitor Center. Another service is available at the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center, and some of the pictures shown below were taken from this boat.
The park is beautiful all of the time, but it takes on a special quality as the sun approaches and then drops below the horizon. First, of course, comes the "golden hour" when the light takes on a warm, golden tint. Below is a picture of the shore of Kabetogama Lake not long before sundown.
The evening is beautiful, but it is also a time of activity. Many animals are nocturnal and are most easily spotted in the minutes before sundown.
The period in the minutes before sunset is a magic time in the park. As the light fades, animals and the landscape provide just silhouettes and strange shapes across the lake.
Sunsets are particularly beautiful on lakes which are oriented in an east-west direction, such as Kabetogama Lake, shown below. The rays of the sun on the horizon fall across the water in a very beautiful way.
And, finally, the sun drops below the horizon and darkness envelops the park. For a short while after sunset the sun cannot be seen but its light is reflected off the clouds.
Information about Voyageurs Park has been drawn from personal experience, maps, interpretive material, brochures, and other data available in the park itself, and a number of other sources, including:
- The Sierra Club Guide to the National Parks of the East and Middle West New York: Stewart, Tabori, and Chang, 1996.
- Wolverton, Ruthe, & Wolverton, Walt. Thirteen National Parks With Room To Roam. Bedford, MA: Mills & Sanderson, Publishers 1990.
- Breining, Greg. Voyageurs National Park. International Falls, MN: Lake States Interpretive Association, 1987.
- Dufresne, Jim. Voyageurs National Park: Water Routes, Foot Paths, and Ski Trails. International Falls, MN: Lake States Interpretive Association, 1986.
- Huck, Barbara, et al. Exploring the Fur Trade Routes of North America. Winnipeg, Canada: Heartland, 2002.
- Whiteway, Doug. The Beaver. In Huck, pp 22-23.
- First Page for Voyageurs National Park -
- All photographs ©Patrick Holleran, Shannon Digital Imaging, 1994-2012
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