VOYAGING IN VOYAGEURS

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One thing had remained elusive for me after six-and-a-half years worth of visits to my fiance’s hometown of International Falls, Minnesota.

Actually stepping foot in nearby Voyageurs National Park.

Obligatory posing with sign...

Obligatory posing with sign…

That’s because it is a park you can’t easily “step foot” in, unless you have a boat to take you around. Outside of a winter visit to their headquarters (a stone’s throw from her family’s house), I’d never really visited the actual park.

Voyageurs is a massive park tucked away in some of the most remote areas of Northern Minnesota. Short summers and difficult access means most of the park is out of reach for your typical tourist. Sure, the park service offers tours, but if you want to explore a bit on your own, you’re essentially left to your own devices, and a good majority of travelers don’t have the feasible means or desire to bring a boat or snowmobile everywhere they go.

Well, at this point, they're both dead... (display at Rainy Lake Visitor Center)

Well, at this point, they’re both dead… (display at Rainy Lake Visitor Center)

So the easiest way to explore Voyageurs? Know somebody with a boat. That somebody is Breeah’s brother – who purchased his first boat this year and generously took us on a ride around the entire northern end of the Kabetogema Peninsula, from the mouth of the Rainy River to the end of Rainy Lake, at the historic Kettle Falls Hotel, which also doubles as a local watering hole and restaurant. Out there the only parking lot is a boat dock and the only wheeled vehicles are golf carts. Heck, I’d be willing to argue that Kettle Falls is one of the furthest hotels in America from an interstate highway, so add-in the need for a good, long boat ride and you’re in true “out there” territory.

The park’s history and name origins coincide with with the European fur trading routes of the 17th and 18th centuries. Voyageurs were literally French-Canadian fur traders, who forged passageways through the islands dotted throughout the area. Today the park blends together a rare mix seemingly endless supply of freshwater, rugged, forested islands and a real element of escapism, not to mention the geographical curiosities of the park’s nearby border with Canada. The park’s generally difficult accessibility keeps it wild and remote, a haven for the locals who live up here and the more hardy tourists who don’t mind leaving most amenities behind.

Take a look at a few more photos from our trip below:

Huge houses adorn the Rainy Lake shoreline en route to the boundaries of the park

Huge houses adorn the Rainy Lake shoreline en route to the boundaries of the park

Yeah, apparently this is a "cabin"...

Yeah, apparently this is a “cabin”…

Little American Island is an island "enclave" of sorts, being park-controlled land just outside of the park boundaries. An old mining operation existed on this island and boaters can dock and walk through established trails to visit the site.

Little American Island is an island “enclave” of sorts, being park-controlled land just outside of the park boundaries. An old mining operation existed on this island and boaters can dock and walk through established trails to visit the site.

Looking into an old mine on another little island (this one is located within the park boundary)

Looking into an old mine on another little island (this one is located within the park boundary)

The park service has a tour boat that takes visitors around some of the more notable sites within the park.

The park service has a tour boat that takes visitors around some of the more notable sites within the park.

View from a beach well within the Voyaguers Nat'l Park boundaries

View from a beach well within the Voyaguers Nat’l Park boundaries

Kettle Falls sits on the easternmost arm of the Kabetogama Peninsula. Canada is literally on the other side of the water. In fact, from this spot, Canadian land sits directly north, east and south of you.

Kettle Falls sits on the easternmost arm of the Kabetogama Peninsula. Canada is literally on the other side of the water. In fact, from this spot, Canadian land lies directly north, east and south of you.

The historic and quaint Kettle Falls Hotel, this place has an interesting (and somewhat nefarious past). Its been on the National Register of Historic Places for 40 years as of 2016.

The historic and quaint Kettle Falls Hotel, this place has an interesting (and somewhat nefarious past). Its been on the National Register of Historic Places for 40 years as of 2016.

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2 thoughts on “VOYAGING IN VOYAGEURS

  1. I’ll take a timeshare at that quaint little “cabin,” if you don’t mind! Sheesh – pretty nice. Pretty unique park in that you have so access it by boat. Sounds like you had the right friends to get you there! Great pics.

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