|About the Site|
|Voyageurs National Park (6)|
There are several very nice visitor centers in the park which provide the usual information about geology, history, wildlife, park activities, etc. For some visitors the first of these they may encounter is the Ash River Visitor Center. This is a small center located on a 3 mile access road to the far eastern end of Kabetogama Lake.
In addition to the center building the area provides a nature trail and a dock on Kabetogama Lake. Looking across the lake here affords a view of Kabetogama Peninsula, the major land feature of the park.
There is a small dock near the visitor center. Standing on the pier provides a view of the extreme eastern end of Kabetogama Lake
Twelve miles or so to the northwest, along the southern shore of the lake, also on the shore of Kabetogama Lake is a larger center, the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center.
There is a sizeable marina and boat launch at the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center. Visitors can also arrange for tours on the lake or travel to places such as the Kettle Falls Hotel from this area.
Standing on the shore or dock here the visitor can get a panoramic view of Kabetogama Lake.This view looks north on the island toward Sugarbush Island in the center portion of the lake.
The largest of the park's visitor centers is located east of International Falls on Rainy Lake. In addition to maps, books, an information center,a theater, and the usual services provided at National Park visitor centers, there is a huge stuffed moose in the back part of the center.
As with the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center there is a sizeable marina and boat launch where people may begin their explorations of the lake.
The center is located on a straight called Black Bay Narrows, which connects a body of water known as Black Bay with Rainy Lake proper. The view below looks into the north section of the straight. In this direction, a short distance away, is Little America Island where gold was found in the last 19th century which triggered a short, and not very profitable, gold rush.
A valuable resource of the area around the Rainy Lake visitor Center is the Oberholtzer Trail. This beautiful nature trail was name after Ernest Oberholtzer, a resident of the area and northern Minnesota conservationist. His vision was one of those which ultimately led in the establishment of the national park.
The trail leads through the forest and skirts a marsh, seen below. Beyond the marsh is the waters of Black Bay Narrows.
Oberholtzer described the experience of traveling in north woods country as living in the past. He worked with Bob Marshall to create the Wilderness Society, and led opposition to unlimited exploitation of the resources in the Minnesota/Ontario area.
There an unusual feature on the north shore of Kabetogama Lake. This is not one of the scenic natural wonders which one is used to seeing in Voyageur National Park, but rather an artificial attraction built over many years by a single person. The unusual sign at the entrance to this garden is shown below.
The garden is reached by boat across Kabetogama Lake, where a dock exists. The garden itself is built on the side and the top of a small hill near the lake, as can be seen in the pictures above and below.
The garden was built over a great many years by a contractor from Chicago named J. E. Ellsworth. Ellsworth had a home on the shore of Kabetogama Lake and made the garden a person project over many years, from approximately 1944 to 1965. A park brochure describes it as a "personal grotto."
The garden contains a great many weirdly shaped rock statues and sculptures. In addition to the rock formations and there are quite a few flowers which add to the visual appeal of the garden.
The garden contains a great many unusual and even bizarre sculpted shapes. Some of the rocks look like monoliths, and others appear to be giant arrowheads which have been shot into the ground.
At the top of the hill is the teepee, one of the more unusual structures in the garden.
From the top of the hill on which the garden lies the visitor can look out across the meadow in front of the garden and Kabetogama Lake.
Opinions about this attraction vary considerably. Some consider this an unusual but fascinating place to visit, and consider the amazing effort made by this single man. Others consider it somewhat of a blight on a beautiful, natural area which otherwise is largely wilderness. Each visitor can decide for himself or herself about the rock garden.
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