Planning a Voyageurs National Park camping trip is an exhilarating experience that you are sure to remember for years to come. The park offers a unique landscape with plenty of fulfilling activities that will keep you and your family entertained throughout the duration of your stay.
Whether looking to book a short weekend trip or a weeklong excursion, keep reading for all you need to know about camping in Voyageurs National Park!
5 Things to do at Voyageurs National Park
Hiking at Voyageurs National Park is a rewarding endeavor that suits everyone from eager novices of all ages to even the most experienced hiking enthusiasts. With over 10 trails that range in difficulty and length, check out these trails that you may want to explore during your Voyageurs National Park camping trip!
Accessible by Land
- Blind Ash Bay Trail – This trail is a moderate 2.9-mile loop that twists and turns through the forest while simultaneously offering stunning views of Kabetogama Lake. Birds and wildlife are commonly spotted enjoying this area – when on the lookout, make sure to watch your step! This trail has a rather rocky terrain.
- Beaver Pond Overlook Trail – This moderate hike is a short 0.4-mile trail that takes you up a hill. At the top are rewarding views of Beaver Pond, a place aptly named for the likelihood of seeing beavers lounging around or going for a swim!
- Sullivan Bay Trail – An easy 1.5-mile hike, Sullivan Bay Trail is the perfect place for a picnic with a view. The trail ends with a beautiful overlook of the bay and has picnic tables and a fire ring. Pack a lunch or something to grill and don’t miss this fantastic hike!
Accessible by Water
- Locator Lake Trail – If you’re looking for a bit more of a challenging hike, you won’t want to miss this trail! This strenuous trek is four miles round trip and involves scaling various ridges that offer delightful views of both the forest and Locator Lake.
- Cruiser Lake Trail – For true peace and quiet with an adventurous twist, this secluded trail is an eight-mile one-way trip filled with serene scenes guaranteed to be worth the journey. If you’re lucky, you may even catch a glimpse of a moose or hear wolves in the distance!
If you’re looking to go fishing during your Voyageurs National Park camping trip, there is certainly no shortage of options. Throughout the park, there are four large lakes and 26 smaller interior lakes that offer an array of fish for you to catch.
54 species of fish have been spotted within the waters of Voyageurs National Park. From Walleye to Northern Pike, Yellow Perch, and even Longear Sunfish and Lake Trout—you never know what’ll be on the other side of your fishing line!
If you’d prefer that your Voyageurs National Park camping trip is spent keeping your eyes on the sky, you won’t want to miss the endless opportunities to go birdwatching.
There are many birdwatching areas throughout the park. Anderson Bay, Rainy Lake Visitor Center, Dryweed Island, and Echo Bay are all great spots—just to name a few!
From the majestic great horned owl to the adorable little pine warbler, you’re guaranteed to check off an impressive find on your birdwatching list. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a bald eagle!
Almost 40% of Voyageurs National Park is water. The many lakes make up such a large part of what this picturesque park has to offer! Canoes, kayaks, and motorboats are all available to rent at the park.
Whether just a short kayak ride or an exciting motorboat adventure, adding time on the water to your Voyageurs National Park camping trip is a rewarding activity that you surely won’t forget!
5. Guided Tours
If you’d like to make the most out of your stay at the park, various guided tours are available throughout the year that can help elevate your camping trip to the next level.
Many ranger-led programs take place throughout the summer, such as hiking, canoeing, and even guided boat tours. Although the summer months are great for enjoying the park with minimal gear, don’t let cold temperatures stop you from enjoying the true beauty of a Voyageurs National Park camping trip!
Throughout January to March, guided tours that highlight stargazing, skiing, snowshoeing, and night hiking are all activities to be celebrated. If conditions are right, it’s even possible to get a glimpse of the northern lights!
Places to Stay
When planning a Voyageurs National Park camping trip, it’s important to note that all campsites apart from primitive camping are only accessible by watercraft. Various companies offer canoes for rent within the park, although utilizing a water taxi is another convenient option. Always wear a life jacket when on board a boat.
Each campsite requires a reservation/permit, and this can easily be booked online by accessing the Voyageurs National Park Camping Permits website. Reservations may also be made by calling Recreation.gov at 1-877-444-6777.
All 137 frontcountry campsites can be found on the shores and islands of the park’s four main lakes. After traveling via watercraft, your frontcountry campsite is just a short distance away, offering stunning views of the water you’ve just traversed.
When booking your campsite, make sure to take a good look at the location of where you’ll be setting up camp. Some campsites are up to 27 miles away from the closest boat launch. While choosing a far campsite may seem like an exhilarating option, make sure that it’s a feasible one.
Never underestimate the journey via boat, and never forget to give yourself enough time to reach your campsite! Making sure you have plenty of time to set up camp before the sun goes down is a major key to starting your Voyageurs National Park camping trip off right.
15 adventurous backcountry campsites are scattered throughout the interior lakes of the Kabetogama Peninsula. These campsites are a great option for thrill seekers who want to truly immerse themselves in the beautiful nature that camping in Voyageurs National Park offers.
The campsites are located in a very low-trafficked area of the park, which offers ultimate serenity and seclusion. To reach these sites, you must first boat out to the trailhead closest to your site. A hike ranging in length will lead you to your overnight abode.
Depending on the site you choose, you may have to hit the water again for another short trip across the lake before accessing your spot. If this is the case, a backcountry canoe is included with your campsite reservation.
These canoes are already conveniently placed where you will need them and may be accessed with a code that you will receive via email prior to your stay. Private boats are not allowed in the backcountry in order to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.
Within the park are two primitive camping sites that do not require a boat to access. Campers hike along the Kab-Ash trail until reaching their campsite.
Unlike other campsites in the park, these primitive sites do not come with any sort of bear pole or food locker. To ensure safety while camping in these areas, make sure to bring a rope to tie up your food or any odorous items that could attract bears to your area!
Houseboating is an incredibly unique way of camping at Voyageurs National Park. Guests may rent a houseboat from a nearby company just outside the park. Designated sites are marked with a sign and include a metal fire ring and secure post to secure your houseboat.
Undesignated sites are areas at least 200 yards from developed zones. Both types of houseboat campsites operate on a first-come, first-served basis, however, a camping permit is still required. Tents are not permitted at these campsites.
Winter camping at Voyageurs National Park is a remarkable experience that allows you to appreciate the beauty of the park during a time that many guests forgo.
Each of the campsites is still available during the winter time, but frozen lakes change the way that they’re accessed. Snowshoeing, skiing, or snowmobiling provide an easy way to reach all your favorite summer camping spots!
During wintry months, be sure to always check ice and trail conditions before heading out into the park.
What to Expect From a Voyageurs National Park Camping Trip
Camping in Voyageurs National Park is a great way to disconnect and take a break from the rush of everyday life. Because campsites are so spread out, it’s common to never even come across another camper while in the park!
Cell phone service is spotty, but the Ash River Visitor’s Center offers free wifi to help you stay connected if needed.
There is no entrance fee to enter Voyageurs National Park. Camping fees are a separate price. If you’d like to take your furry friend with you, dogs on a leash are welcome at frontcountry campsites!
Planning Your Voyageurs National Park Camping Trip
Now that you’ve discovered all you need to know about a Voyageurs National Park camping trip, the only thing left to do is get excited about your upcoming travels!
Want to know more about campgrounds at other national parks? Check out our other guides on national park camping for all you need to know!