Frontcountry camping is accessible directly by boat. Like all campsites at Voyageurs, both frontcountry and backcountry, it requrires traveling by watercraft to arrive at your site. Backcountry Camping requires traveling by boat to the trail head where visitors then hike and/or canoe from where your boat is docked towards inner Kabetogama Peninsula.
If you do not have boat acess and want to drive your vehicle to a campsite on land, there are public and private campgrounds within the surrounding gateway communities.
If you want to rent a canoe from the mainland to explore Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point, or Crane Lakes (instead of the Backcountry), Local Area Businesses offer rentals. To avoid competing with these local businesses, the National Park Service does not rent canoes for the large lakes from visitor centers.
The Basics for Traveling to your Frontcountry Campsite
Parking: Camping Permit holders can park their vehicles overnight at any park visitor center for up to 14 days during their trip.
Have a basic understanding of camping rules and regulations before you start your trip. Make sure to secure a boat, watercraft, or water taxi to travel to the trail head and secure plans for pick-up at the end of your backcountry itinerary.
Items below are required; our safety page also shows camping supplies that can help make your trip safer and even more enjoyable.
Camping Permit - Printed and placed in clear box at campsite
Permits are available to print using your recreation.gov account no earlier than 5 days before your trip
One Personal Floation Device (PFD) for every individual using a boat or canoe
Food Storage Plansfor Bear Safety (can your cooler fit in the bear box)
Trash Plans (Please Pack it in, Pack it out - everything you brought to your campsite must go with you when you leave.)
Houseboats must be moored at least 200 yards (600 feet) away from any developed site; houseboats cannot pitch a tent at houseboat sites. If houseboaters want to pitch a tent, they must reserve a tent site on Recreation.gov for those in their party who want to tent camp.
The exception is group campsites; houseboats may moor at R-74 on Rainy Lake and K-54 on Kabetogama Lake. The group campsite limit is a minimum of 14 and a maximum of 30 people, and the group must have a permit for the group site plus a permit for each houseboat.
Check-in for your first day at a Frontcountry campsite begins at 3 pm. Visitors have 24 hours from their check-in time to set up at their reserved site. Checkout is at 12 noon on the day after your last night.
Between noon and 3 pm, unused campsites may be used temporarily for swimming, picknicing, etc. Only visitors who reserve a canoe in the Backcountry need to stop at a visitor center before checking in. All others may go straight to their campsites if they have a valid printed permit.
Example: Lee has reserved a Frontcountry campsite on Sphunge Island, and his start date is August 8. He will camp overnight there that evening, as well as August 9, and will leave on August 10.
Check-in for his campsite is at 3 pm on August 8. If he arrives earlier, he may find people at his site. If the site is unoccupied, he can arrive as early as noon; check-in is still at 3 pm.
Because this is a Frontcountry site, he does not need to check in at a visitor center beforehand (although he is welcome to do so anyway if he wants to learn about the park, purchase maps, etc.)
Checkout is at noon on August 10.
Check-in and checkout times for Frontcountry sites are different than Backcountry rules. Check the Backcountry camping page for check-in times at Backcountry sites.
Tent campers in Voyageurs can park their vehicles for free overnight at any park visitor center for up to 14 days during their trip. If you prefer to park somewhere else, consider asking about parking arrangements at the local resorts and businesses near the park.
If you plan to paddle on Rainy, Kabetogama, Sand Point, Namakan, or Crane Lakes to your campsite, the tips below can make your trip safer and more enjoyable.
If it looks too rough to leave, don't. Even if you are already at one campsite and have a permit for another one, your safety is the top priority. If you're stuck at a site, either of these options are possible:
Stay at the site. If it is vacant, you may be able to get a permit. If others arrive at the same site, it is not uncommon for multiple groups to stay at a single site during bad weather. Safety for both groups is the highest priority.
If campsite disputes occur, consider calling Park Headquarters (see contact information at bottom of page) or any other visitor center for assistance.
Have a Plan B. Windy conditions—especially winds over 10 miles per hour and winds from the northwest—can make headway very challenging for paddlers of any ability due to the size of the lakes. If you have doubts on the day you expect to depart, consider staying on the mainland at one of the nearby public campsites or private lodges until conditions calm down.
The park's campsites are open all year, and winter camping is an exhilarating, memorable opportunity in Voyageurs for those who are prepared. Driving the park's ice roads, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing are all unique ways to travel to your campsite.
Recommended Winter Camping Gear Checklist
Snowshoes (regardless of how you get to your campsite)
Tools to maintain gear (e.g. extra straps, duct tape, rope, patch kit)
Backpack or tow sled
Tent or bivy
Insulated, water resistant outer coat and snow pants
Long undergarments (upper and lower)
Gloves or mittens with removable shells
Scarf or balaclava
Sleeping bag (rated to at least -50 Fahrenheit)
Sleeping pad and additional padding to insulate bottom of tent
Enough food for at least one extra day
Cooking pot to melt snow
Camp stove fuel (plus at least one day's worth of extra fuel)
At least 2 extra layers of clothing, gloves, and hats
8. See which resorts and businesses are open year-round if you plan to purchase gear, hire a winter guide, or stay overnight at a resort either before or after your trip.
9. Plan to cover less ground and to spend more time setting up/breaking down camp. Everything takes longer during winter.
10. Test your equipment in cold temperatures. Stoves, fuel, and water filters don't work as well in the cold, so test them in cold conditions before you have to rely on them. Also test your shelter to ensure it has enough ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning (especially if you are using an ice fishing house).
12. Triple-check your clothing. Having enough layers and the right kind of clothing (e.g. packing wool or synthetics, not cotton) can become a matter of survival while enjoying an inspiring and powerful Voyageurs winter.