Founded in 1975, Voyageurs National Park in Minnesota is an oasis of interconnected waterways, ancient rock, and forest land in the heart of the continent, straddling the Canadian border. Remote and rugged, the park preserves the cross-country trade route canoed centuries ago by French fur traders known as voyageurs. Most of the 218,000-acre park is a peninsula accessible only by water--but still vulnerable to modern-day pollution problems.
The most popular reason to visit Voyageurs is the water. Four large lakes plus 26 smaller inland lakes together make up more than a third of the total park area, creating a paradise for boaters. The park also boasts two of the top ten lakes for walleye fishing in the country, Lake Rainy and Lake Namakan. If you don’t have a boat you can still enjoy NPS-run tour boat rides to historic sites and wildlife-viewing areas. There are also a few areas on the mainland that are accessible by car, such as Crane Lake, with opportunities for fishing, stargazing, and viewing wildlife. The park also offers about a dozen hiking trails, accessible by both land and water. Winter visitors, on the other hand, will find very different types of activities, including snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing.
Due to the remote location, the park offers excellent opportunities for viewing wildlife. While many tourists visit the park in the hopes of seeing a moose or a wolf, sightings of white-tailed deer, beavers, otters, and muskrats are more common. Some 240 bird species also make their home in the park, as do more than a hundred black bears.
NPCA at Work in the Parks
Although Voyageurs National Park feels remote, the impact of air pollution is a particular problem in this part of Minnesota. Older power plants in the region and facilities that mine a type of iron ore known as taconite contribute to hazy conditions in the park. NPCA has been working to strengthen the EPA’s plan that governs coal-fired power plants in the state.
View the Slideshow
View NPCA's slideshow with beautiful images of Voyageurs National Park.