Nature & Science

Voyageurs is a mosaic of land and water.

A Mosaic of Land and Water
Voyageurs National Park is 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.

Otters bask in the sun on the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center dock

Iconic North Woods animals such as moose, gray wolves, black bear, beaver, and amphibians inhabit the forests and wetlands year round. Bald eagles, loons, double-crested cormorants, owls, and warblers are common residents of the park's forests, waters, and skies.

Within Voyageurs, boreal tree species from the north such as spruce, fir, aspen, and paper birch coexist with pines, oaks, maples, and basswood from the south and east. It is a place where wildflowers are abundant. Blueberries, raspberries, and strawberries are plentiful (and delicious). It is a place where human and plant interactions have defined the history of the region.
Natural Features and Ecosystems
When we think of the changes that have occurred in what is now Voyageurs National Park over time, natural features that define it take on a kaleidoscopic quality--as glaciers, lakes and forests advance, retreat, change, disappear, and return again and again over time.

Night Skies
The night sky is filled with wonder. From the moon to Mars, the Milky Way to meteors, when you look to the sky, a whole new world awaits. Half the park comes out after dark.
A park biologist looking inside a birdhouse
A park biologist uses a mirror to view Tree Swallow eggs in a nest box.


Water is the life blood of Voyageurs. Forty percent of the park are the waters of Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point Lakes. These waters were the transportation corridors for the park's namesake, the voyageurs, and they are the basis for recreation in the park today. These waters are home to walleye, northern pike, lake trout, and sturgeon. Unfortunately, they are also home to some unwanted non-native species such as spiny water flea. Although these waters are all natural lakes, the water levels of the largest lakes (Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point) 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.

Voyageurs research programs range from inventory & monitoring to air quality to animal and plant studies. The park is always looking for better ways to manage the lakes, forests, wildlife, viewsheds, soundscapes, and the many other components that make up the park.

Last updated: July 15, 2022

Park footer

Contact Info

Mailing Address:

Voyageurs National Park Headquarters
360 Hwy 11 East

International Falls , MN 56649



Contact Us


Stay Connected