Nature & Science
Voyageurs National Park is a mosaic of land and water, a place of interconnected waterways that flow west, and eventually north as part of the arctic watershed of Hudson Bay. It's a place of transition, between land and aquatic ecosystems, between southern boreal and northern hardwood forests, and between wild and developed areas.
Here in the heart of the continent lies a unique landscape formed by ancient earthquakes and volcanoes and more recently, glaciers. The most recent period of glaciation ended just over 10,000 years ago, exposing ancient Precambrian rocks. The forests that now cover the higher grounds of the park exist on a thin layer of soil that has formed in the comparatively short period of time since the last glacier receded.
This ecosystem has been affected and altered by fire, wind, logging, encroachment of non-native species, climate change, and more, but it still retains a rich diversity of plants and animals.
Over this landscape drapes the night sky. On a cloudless night in northern Minnesota, due to a lack of light sources, millions of stars glow brightly. On occasion, when an adventurous visitor stays up well past the typical bedtime, the greens, yellows, and reds of the Aurora Borealis flare overhead. Discover the park after dark.
Whether day or night, understand the science that connects the park to everything and all of us.
Although these waters are all natural lakes, the water levels of the largest lakes (Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point) in Voyageurs National Park are regulated by dams within and outside the park. The effects of these water level regulations on the ecology of Voyageurs have been the subject of considerable research in recent decades. What affects these waters affects both the ecology and the recreational use of the park as a whole.
Did You Know?
Voyageurs National Park is a great place to snowshoe in the winter. Bring your own or borrow a pair from the Rainy Lake Visitor Center for free!