Our final destination of the summer road trip (yes, it’s December and I’m finally finishing up the summer recap…..) was to Voyageurs National Park. Have you heard of this one? It is a magical place of lakes in Minnesota on the border of Canada. We have dear friends that are from Minnesota and one of them grew up in International Falls, the closest town to the park. His family still owns a cabin on Rainy Lake, one of the major lakes of the park.
All this to say, we have been hearing about Voyageurs for a long time and were really excited to finally get a chance to visit. The park was the perfect end to our long road trip. We were able to celebrate being with friends and relax with people who knew their way around the park. We visited a short trail near the visitor center and went on a short hike in International Falls. But Voyageurs is not a hiking park. Instead, it’s all about the water. We were lucky enough to have friends with property on the water, and who own a boat for cruising.
The best way to see the park is to get a campsite (accessible only by boat) and tour around. We headed out early one morning, got to our campsite and set up, and then spent the afternoon exploring the island where we were camping, paddling around in a canoe, and napping in the hammock. That night a predicted rain storm just missed us but the next morning, the looming clouds did not look promising. Faced with the prospect of a day spent hiding from the rain in the tents, or an early departure, we decided to bail on our second night of camping and get back to the cabin. The worst of the storm never reached us but it looked awfully terrifying from a distance.
We spent the day working on a puzzle, talking and laughing, and enjoying the views of the water from the cabin. An extra night out on the town, a spin on the lake for a mesmerizing sunset, and a waterfront bonfire capped off the stay at Voyageurs.
If you don’t have friends in the area with a boat, we recommend either bringing your own, if you’re close enough, or checking out one of the local houseboat companies in town. They’ll set you up with what you need to get deep in the park to really enjoy it. There’s also a historic lodge on an island in one of the lakes where you can ferry to and bunk for a few nights.
Pro Tip: Summers in Minnesota are delightful. But the bugs are frightful. No amount of bug spray could keep them fully at bay. Bring pants. And long sleeves. And all the bug spray. None of the gentle stuff. Deet or bust. Go ahead and pack your favorite anti-itch cream as well (my personal recommendation is a blend of topical Benadryl and Hydrocortisone).