Corbitt's National Parks
               National Park


1975: National Park

Size: 218,200 acres

2008 visitors: 221,585

Stamp: ?

Rating (1-5): Unrated

About the Site

On the border of northern Minnesota, 55 miles of the Park meanders along the Canadian border with Ontario. Voyageurs is a water-based park, and much of it is accessible only by boat. It's named for the voyageurs, the French-Canadian explorers and traders who plied their wares in birch-bark canoes from the Great Lakes to the interior of Canada and the western United States. This 'voyageurs highway' now stretches from the interior of the Pacific Northwest to the Great Lakes, and in its heyday carried trade items such as furs, food, and medicine.

This Park lies at the southern end of the Canadian Shield, and represents some of the oldest exposed rock in the world. The bedrock found here has been scoured by at least four ice ages; since the most recent cold spell, 11,000 years ago, a thin soil has developed, which supports the boreal forest that exists today. The interconnected lakes flow into the Rainy River and then further north, forming a part of the Hudson Bay watershed in Canada.

Humans arrived following the retreat of the glaciers. Early Native Americans were the first to make use of the abundant resources the lakes and forests provided, followed by Europeans and other native groups drawn to the area during the fur trade period of the late 1700's and early 1800's. Mining, commercial fishing, logging and recreational use brought more people to the region in the years that followed. Most visitors will find the best way to get around, still to this day, is by water.

What You're Going to See

Voyageurs boasts a varied landscape. Rocky outcrops are found next to bogs, swampy areas, beaver ponds, rivers, and four large lakes. The area is comprised of a variety of ecological systems. Mesic hardwood forests, wet forests, peatlands, fens, marshes, rocky outcrops and lakeshore environments are all part of what you will see. Pine, spruce, and fir are the main conifers in the park, with aspen and birch forming a high percentage of the deciduous trees.

Voyageurs is home to a broad spectrum of bird and animal wildlife, including over 240 species of birds, 10 species of reptiles and amphibians, 53 species of fish, 42 species of mammals, and who knows how many invertebrates. During summer months visitors might see thousands of migrating birds, including great blue herons, common loons, and white pelicans. Bears, red squirrels, white-tailed deer and other animals are also visible, searching for food and recovering from the lean winter. During the cold season of winter, the howl of wolves can be heard, hunting for snowshoe hares. Black bears retreat to their dens, turtles burrow into the mud, but fish remain active in the lakes and rivers, which may freeze over to a thickness of two feet.

Personal Observations

Well, I haven't been there yet. Someday, when I'm next in Minnesota ...

Getting There

From Grand Rapids, you can either go north or east. Going north, take Highway 38 for 79 miles to Big Falls. Continue north on US 71 for about 38 miles to International Falls. To get to the Rainey Lake visitors center, take Highway 11 east for about ten miles. To get to the Kabetogama visitors center, go southeast on US 53 for about 26 miles, turn north on Road 122 and follow it (about two miles) to Kabetogama. To get to the Ash River Visitors center, continue on US 53 (past the Road 122 turnoff) another 5 miles or so, and follow the signs. The turnoff will take you east on a road for about 10 miles.

Going east from Grand Rapids, take US 169 for 60 miles to Virginia. Go north on US 53 for about 68 miles to the Ash River visitors center turnoff -- watch for the signs. To get to the Kabetogama visitors center, continue on US 53 another 5 miles to Road 122. Take that north for a mile or to until you hit Kabetogama. To get to the Rainey Lake visitors center, continue on US 53 past the Road 122 turnoff for another 26 miles to International Falls, and take Highway 11 east for about 10 miles.

Nearby Attractions

There are no other National Park Service units within 100 miles.

Not visited yet.