Proposed Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
NPS Logo


The area under study is of unusual interest because of its varied scenic, natural and historical resources which in combination are of national and possibly international significance. Among these resources are: an outstanding representation of Precambrian geology and a land surface shaped by continental glaciation; the superlative scenery of an unusually beautiful system of lakes, streams and forests; and historical associations with the fur trade and the era or exploration along the International Boundary.

These natural, historical and recreational resources are not adequately represented in the National Park System today. The area also meets suitability and feasibility requirements for a National Park.

Based on these conclusions it is recommended that this section of superlative lake country located between Black Bay of Rainy Lake and Namakan Lake, including Kabetogama Peninsula and Kabetogama and Rainy Lakes, plus a portion of Namakan Lake, be established as the Voyageurs National Park.

A fuller and more leisurely enjoyment by water

It is further recommended that the adjacent Crane-Namakan Lakes area of the Superior National Forest, which also has significant scenic, natural, and recreation resources and historical values, be studied by the Forest Service and the National Park Service to develop coordinated management plans to provide for public use and enjoyment and to further identify areas of historical significance and other features of interest.

It would also be most desirable if our good neighbors in Canada could institute a similar program so that management of the natural resources on both sides of the International Boundary would be comparable. The history as well as the natural resources of both Nations is so closely interwoven here that they are inseparable.

Boats will be the primary means of travel in the area.

The Proposed Area and its Administration

The proposed Voyageurs National Park covers approximately 168,000 acres of land and water--108,000 acres land, and 60,000 acres water. It is irregular in shape, about 24 miles long from east to west, and varies in width from about 3 to 15 miles.

Preliminary studies disclosed that this area would be adequate for preservation and use of the varied resources involved and to provide for desired public and administrative facilities. The boundary bordering Kabetogama and Namakan Lakes was located close to the shoreline wherever possible so that present management and commercial use of the forest resources would be disturbed very little. The primary objective was to assure preservation of the lakeshores as seen by boaters, with shore-land extending to hill and ridge tops to accomplish this.

The Voyageurs National Park, water-resource based, is proposed as a unit of the National Park System to be administered under thepro visions of the 1916 Act which established the National Park Service. Preservation for public enjoyment, therefore, would be the basic guiding principle.

Proposed Development and Use

The area offers an intriguing opportunity for a somewhat unusual pattern of use and enjoyment. A formula which is being considered would continue to limit access by roads, very much as it is now. All travel and use beyond the termini of these roads would be by water, with appropriate controls to limit boating to the more compatible types, allowing for motors, but also perhaps reserving some of the waters for canoes or hand-propelled craft. The whole idea would be to key developments, interpretation, and use to a fuller and more leisurely enjoyment by water and by trail. This approach could provide high quality experience, with essentially no scarring of the surroundings and a minimum of visible intrusive developments. Primary dependence on travel by boat instead of by car will greatly simplify preservation of the area.

Major park developments would probably be close to but separated from the existing communities of Kabetogama and Ash River Trail, and also to International Falls, which is the logical access point to the Rainy Lake section of the park. These communities and the surrounding areas should benefit from the project. The park developments would consist of administrative, interpretive, and visitor facilities which would, together with private facilities in the surrounding area, give each visitor the kind of accommodations and services best suited to his likes and means. Such developments would be concentrated within comparatively small areas but would be so located as to achieve a spacious park-like atmosphere. Primary planning consideration would be to preserve the naturalness of the area as much as possible and to make all developments blend inconspicuously with the landscape, especially as viewed from the lakes. Limited acreage outside the proposed park boundary shown on the map in this report would be required for such developments.

Above: Access and development at Kabetogama Village, Kabetogama Lake.
Below: Ash River access and development.

Boat rental facilities, from canoes to inboards, would be available, and docking facilities would be provided for all, boat owners and renters alike. Every means possible to assure the visitor an opportunity for travel over the waters would be provided. Guided tours would be available. These would be made by various means of transportation--roomy outboards for exploring the shallow bays and sparkling streams; and foot travel perhaps ending with a canoe experience on a small, intimate inland lake. Regularly scheduled boat service would also be provided to take campers to isolated campgrounds, leave them, and return for them later.

Camping is an enjoyable activity in this country and indeed a necessary one for those who want to penetrate into the more remote wilderness portions. Campgrounds, from the modern types accessible by road to those reached only by boat or trail, would be provided. The latter would be strategically located on islands and along the shores of lakes and streams.

A wilderness camping experience on a lakeshore could be enjoyed by many.

From Canoe Country by Florence Page Jaques,
Illustrated by Francis Lee Jaques
Courtesy the University of Minnesota Press

Hiking trails would be developed extensively within the park because of the great potential and anticipated popularity of this activity.

The varied opportunities in this park would provide rewarding experiences for those with interests in geology, botany, wildlife and history--as well as for those primarily interested in boating, fishing, camping, hiking, birdwatching and photography.

All these activities would be encouraged and made more meaningful by park naturalists and historians who would interpret the rich natural and human history of this region for the benefit of the visitor. Conducted boat trips, nature walks, and campfire, programs would enable those interested to have unforgettable experiences in the park. Interpretive markers, self-guiding nature trails, and wayside exhibits would provide interesting details of the natural and historical scene for the benefit of those exploring on their own.

From Canoe Country by Florence Page Jaques,
Illustrated by Francis Lee Jaques
Courtesy the University of Minnesota Press

Proposed Voyageurs National Park. (click on image for a PDF version)

Proposed Voyageurs National Park (Land Ownership) (click on image for a PDF version)

<<< Previous <<< Contents>>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 03-Feb-2009