Travel Travel Tips

Voyageur’s National Park Lodging & Best Things to do

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on
February 5, 2020

In this article, we’ll explain the dozens of Voyageurs National Park lodging options available to you during your getaway to Voyageurs National Park!

Your final Voyageur National Park lodging selection(s) will be based on what you plan to see and do during your visit to the Park and what Visitor Center and/or area of the Park that you want the closest access to.

Look no further for the ultimate guide to help you choose the Voyageur’s National Park lodging that will meet your family’s needs and desires.

We’ll cover resort and hotel options as well as cabin rentals, campsites, and houseboat sites.

As a Minnesota native, I’ll also share my insider tips for visiting the Park in order to help you make the most of your time when there.

Voyageurs National Park map
Map courtesy of NPS

Voyageurs National Park

Voyageurs National Park is located in Northern Minnesota with Canada bordering the entire north side of the Park.

The largest city near Voyageurs National Park is International Falls, MN (which happens to be my hometown!).

Voyageurs National Park consists of 500 islands, 655 miles of shoreline, and more than 200,000 acres of land and water, most of which are only accessible by boat. 

This solely water-based National Park is so different than its more popular counterparts (Yellowstone, Arches, Acadia, etc.) in that you absolutely must get out of your car to experience it. 

Popular summer activities here include camping, fishing, and boating.

Winter activities include snowmobiling, ice fishing, winter camping, and cross-country skiing.

You can find all, or part, of four major lakes within Voyageurs National Park:

  • Rainy Lake
  • Kabetogema Lake
  • Namakan Lake
  • Sand Point Lake

Crane Lake, though not located within the park, is the southern entry to Voyageurs National Park. It provides interconnected water access to all of the above lakes.

Fun Fact: The park is aptly named for the French Canadian voyageurs who traveled these waterways over 250 years ago in gigantic birch bark and cedar canoes. 

Voyageurs National Park was established to protect the beaver, otter, and mink that were trapped and transported by the voyageurs through these interconnected waterways in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Check our our ultimate guide to Voyageurs National Park lodging and everything that you need to know about where to stay! Get our tips of the best things to do and where to stay during your Voyageurs National Park getaway! From Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With a Plan, and Minnesota native! #voyageursnationalparkminnesota #voyageursnationalparkcamping #voyageursnationalparkhouseboats #voyageursnationalparklodging #voyageursnationalpark #wheretostayinvoyageursnationalpark
Voyageurs National Park waterway

Voyageur’s National Park Lodging

It is important to realize that the Kettle Falls Hotel is the only lodging located within Voyageurs National Park.

The only other overnight accommodations directly inside of the park include a combined total of 240 campsites and houseboat sites.

Many visitors, however, choose to lodge somewhere just outside of the park in the gateway communities of International Falls, Ranier, Kabetogama, Ash River, Crane Lake, and Orr.

Many resorts, cabins, and hotels exist in these communities and are aptly accustomed to hosting park visitors.

Kettle Falls Hotel
The historic Kettle Falls Hotel: Photo courtesy of NPS

Kettle Falls Hotel

Location: Namakan Lake in Kabetogema, MN

The Kettle Falls Hotel is located in a remote area of Voyageurs National Park on the far eastern side of the Kabetogama Peninsula. It is only accessible by water via boat or floatplane.

If you do not have a watercraft of your own, Kettle Falls Hotel will ferry their guests to the hotel in their own boat. Guests are picked up from the Ash River Visitor’s Center at prearranged times set at the time of booking.

Originally built in 1913, Kettle Falls Hotel still resembles an ‘old fishing camp-style hotel’.

Its modestly appointed villas and guest rooms are furnished with the bare minimum and do not boast of modern amenities or decor.

The hotel offers breakfast, lunch and dinner options and is a popular spot for boaters and houseboaters to stop for a meal.

Another popular draw here is the Lumberjack Salon and its world-famous sloped floor!

Having been given the nickname, the Tilton’ Hilton, the Kettle Falls Hotel is a fun and classic Voyageurs National Park experience.

Additional planning tip: The Kettle Falls Hotel is open seasonally from May through October.

Call or email the Kettle Falls concessionaires for more information or to make a reservation.

Voyageur National Park camping
Birch Cove front-country campsite, Namakan Lake: Photo courtesy of NPS

Voyageur National Park Lodging: Camping

Camping and campsites within Voyageurs National Park are only accessible by water, require a permit, and are categorized as either front-country or backcountry sites.

Most campsites in the park are front-country sites meaning that they are directly accessible by boat.

15 Voyageur National Park campsites are in the backcountry, meaning that 2 – 3 steps are required in order to access the campsite.

Backcountry camping requires that you:

  • Travel by boat across one of the main lakes to a trailhead.
  • Hike a trail into the backcountry.
  • Some backcountry sites also require you to use a canoe (available for rent by the Park and staged at the end of the trail) after hiking in order to reach the campsite.
Check our our ultimate guide to Voyageurs National Park lodging and everything that you need to know about where to stay! Get our tips of the best things to do and where to stay during your Voyageurs National Park getaway! From Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With a Plan, and Minnesota native! #voyageursnationalparkminnesota #voyageursnationalparkcamping #voyageursnationalparkhouseboats #voyageursnationalparklodging #voyageursnationalpark #wheretostayinvoyageursnationalpark
Backcountry site with canoe: Photo courtesy of NPS

All tent camping at Voyageurs National Park is now by reservation only.  Both front-country and backcountry tent sites are reservable online at www.recreation.gov.

Each campsite is equipped with the following amenities:

  • A privy or privy with a screen (outdoor toilet)
  • Tent pad
  • Picnic table
  • Food locker
  • Fire ring

Campsites are located on the 4 main lakes of the Park.

A complete list of the individual campsites, descriptions, amenities, and photos can be found here.

Voyageurs National Park Boat Rental

If you do not own your own watercraft and wish to explore the Park or access a Voyageurs National Park campsite, a list of local guides, rental craft, and water taxis can be found on the National Park Service website.

Camping near Voyageurs National Park

If you do not have a watercraft available, or if you are looking to car/tent or camper/RV camp, there are many private and state campgrounds located nearby.

Many visitors who do not camp directly within Voyageurs National Park choose to stay at either the following:

Check our our ultimate guide to Voyageurs National Park lodging and everything that you need to know about where to stay! Get our tips of the best things to do and where to stay during your Voyageurs National Park getaway! From Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With a Plan, and Minnesota native! #voyageursnationalparkminnesota #voyageursnationalparkcamping #voyageursnationalparkhouseboats #voyageursnationalparklodging #voyageursnationalpark #wheretostayinvoyageursnationalpark
Houseboat in Voyageurs National Park: Photo courtesy of NPS

Voyageur National Park Lodging: Houseboats

Houseboating is another fantastic Voyageurs National Park lodging option.

In fact, the Park is commonly known as Minnesota’s premier destination for houseboat vacations.

Not only is houseboating fun and unique, but it is a great way to get out and explore the Park while having the amenities of home right at your fingertips.

All houseboat rentals are commercially operated by companies located outside of the park boundaries. Keep in mind that houseboat rentals reservations should be made up to 1 year in advance.

Similar to camping within the Park, permits from www.recreation.gov are required for houseboat overnight stays.

Reservations are available starting November 15th annually for all of the next summer season and cost $10 per night.

It is important to know, however, that designated houseboat sites are on a first-come, first-served basis. By making a reservation, you do not get to select a specific site, instead, you simply reserving a general night’s stay.

Houseboat sites are located on the 4 main lakes in the Park.

A complete list of the individual houseboat sites, descriptions, amenities, and photos can be found here.

Additional planning tip: “A houseboat is defined as a registered vessel that contains sleeping facilities, cooking and food storage facilities, and a no-discharge toilet.

Cabin cruisers and sailboats with the required facilities fit in the definition of a houseboat.” (Per the National Park Service)

The following is a list of houseboat rental companies that service houseboats within Voyageurs National Park:

Check our our ultimate guide to Voyageurs National Park lodging and everything that you need to know about where to stay! Get our tips of the best things to do and where to stay during your Voyageurs National Park getaway! From Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With a Plan, and Minnesota native! #voyageursnationalparkminnesota #voyageursnationalparkcamping #voyageursnationalparkhouseboats #voyageursnationalparklodging #voyageursnationalpark #wheretostayinvoyageursnationalpark
Photo courtesy of Kabetogema Lake Association

Places to Stay Near Voyageurs National Park

If you are not staying directly within the park at either Kettle Falls Hotel, or at a campsite or houseboat site, the key is to find a close location to serve as your home-base for your Voyageurs experience.

As mentioned, the gateway communities surrounding the Park have ample hotels, resorts, and cabin rentals available depending on what activities and amenities you are looking for.

If you’re bringing your own personal watercraft, consider choosing your Voyageurs National Park lodging based on its proximity to the boat ramps (water entrances) that are found at the park’s three visitor centers.

  • Rainy Lake Visitor Center, International Falls, MN (open year-round)
  • Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center, Kabetogama, MN (open mid-May through September)
  • Ash River Visitor Center, Orr, MN (open mid-May through September)

For the purposes of listing out your Voyageurs National Park Lodging options that are near the Park, we have categorized them according to the gateway cities of Ranier, International Falls, Kabetogama, Ash River, Crane Lake, and Orr.

Hotels near Voyageurs National Park

Ranier, MN

  • Cantilever Hotel: A brand new botique hotel featuring an on-site distillery and rooftop hot tub overlooking Canada. Located 10 minutes from Voyageurs National Park.

International Falls, MN

Orr, MN

(Kabetogema, Ash River, and Crane Lake = no hotels)

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at Tripadvisor

Resorts and Cabin Rentals near Voyageurs National Park

Ranier, MN

  • Tara’s Wharf: Rainy Lake Inn and Suites
  • Woodsport Cottages

International Falls, MN

  • Bear Ridge Guest House
  • Camp Idlewood
  • Island View Lodge & Cabins
  • Sha Sha Resort on Rainy Lake

Kabetogema, MN

  • Arrowhead Lodge & Resort
  • Birch Grove Resort
  • Birchwood on Kab
  • Grandview of Lake Kabetogama
  • Herseth’s Tomahawk Resort
  • Idlewild Resort
  • Kec’s Kove
  • Krueger’s Harmony Beach Resort
  • Mahaffey’s Moosehorn Resort
  • Northern Lights Resort & Outfitting
  • Park Point Resort
  • Pine Aire Resort
  • Pine Tree Cove Resort
  • The Pines of Kabetogama
  • Sandy Point Lodge & Resort
  • Voyageur Park Lodge
  • Voyageurs Sunrise Resort

Ash River, MN

  • Ash Trail Lodge
  • Ash-Ka-Nam Resort
  • Frontier Resort
  • Ash Riviera Resort

Crane Lake, MN

  • Cabins on Crane
  • Nelson’s Resort
  • Norway Lodge Resort & RV Park
  • Pine Point Lodge & Resort
  • Pine Ridge
  • Sand Point Lodge
  • Scott’s Resort and Seaplane Base
  • Trail’s End Resort
  • Voyagaire Lodge & Houseboats
Rainy Lake Visitor Center
Rainy Lake Voyageurs National Park Visitor Center

Things to do

Featured activities at Voyageurs National Park include hiking, boating, paddling, fishing, and swimming.

Visiting the interactive exhibits in one of the park’s 3 visitor centers and attending park programs are also must-do activities.

Popular park programs at the Visitor Centers include navigating Rainy Lake and its islands aboard the Voyageur Tour Boat.

These 2 ½ hour boat tours are seasonal and come with a fee of $30 per adult and $15 per child.

Another fun thing to do at Voyageurs National Park is to take an interactive guided canoe tour aboard a 26-foot Voyageur Canoe.

After learning the voyageur paddle salute, this unforgettable experience finds you paddling along the waters of Rainy Lake while exploring the life of a voyageur. 

Canoe tours are free and reservations are recommended.

Voyageur Tour Boat
Rainy Lake Visitor Center and Voyageur Tour Boat

Tips for Your Visit

  • Roads approach the park from four points along U.S. 53 between Duluth and International Falls.
  • There is scheduled airline service to International Falls, MN as well as to Fort Frances, Ontario, Canada.
  • Unlike many National Parks that have a gated entrance where you pay to enter, access to Voyageurs National Park is free! 
  • With less than 10 miles of roads, visitors must leave their cars behind to tour the Park via motorboat, tour boat, canoe, houseboat, kayak, or sailboat.
  • If you plan to fish in the park, review the Minnesota Fishing Regulations. It is essential to know the regulations for transportation, shipment, and storage of fish.
  • Minnesota has four distinct weather seasons of spring, summer, fall, and winter. The warmest months are June, July, and August.
  • Official waterway markers within Voyageurs National Park are in the form of buoys, signs, or lights, either in the water or onshore.
  • Approximately 150 black bears live in Voyageurs National Park. For this reason, campsites must be cleaned during and after use and food must be stored in a food locker.
Check our our ultimate guide to Voyageurs National Park lodging and everything that you need to know about where to stay! Get our tips of the best things to do and where to stay during your Voyageurs National Park getaway! From Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With a Plan, and Minnesota native! #voyageursnationalparkminnesota #voyageursnationalparkcamping #voyageursnationalparkhouseboats #voyageursnationalparklodging #voyageursnationalpark #wheretostayinvoyageursnationalpark
Boating on the open water of Voyageurs National Park

Voyageur National Park Map

It is important when considering Voyageur National Park lodging, and how to maneuver your way around, that you consult a detailed Voyageur National Park map.

Area maps, camping, houseboat, hiking, and day-use maps can all be found on the National Park Service website here.

*Before leaving, be sure to check our Travel Resources Page to find exclusive travel discounts and to book hotels, rental cars, and guided tours.*

If you like our Voyageurs National Park lodging summary, click here to check out our Related posts:

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Check our our ultimate guide to Voyageurs National Park lodging and everything that you need to know about where to stay! Get our tips of the best things to do and where to stay during your Voyageurs National Park getaway! From Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With a Plan, and Minnesota native! #voyageursnationalparkminnesota #voyageursnationalparkcamping #voyageursnationalparkhouseboats #voyageursnationalparklodging #voyageursnationalpark #wheretostayinvoyageursnationalpark
Find out your many Voyageur National Park lodging options while on your getaway to Minnesota's water-based National Park! From hotels, resorts, cabins, camping, and houseboats, there are several options for lodging awaiting you! Check it out now! #voyageursnationalparklodging #wheretostayinVoyageursNationalPark #thingstodoatVoyageursnationalpark #voyageursnationalpark #minnesotanationlaparks
Check our our ultimate guide to Voyageurs National Park lodging and everything that you need to know about where to stay! Get our tips of the best things to do and where to stay during your Voyageurs National Park getaway! From Top U.S. family travel blog Travel With a Plan, and Minnesota native! #voyageursnationalparkminnesota #voyageursnationalparkcamping #voyageursnationalparkhouseboats #voyageursnationalparklodging #voyageursnationalpark #wheretostayinvoyageursnationalpark
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8 Comments
  1. Reply

    Kelly

    February 11, 2020

    I can’t believe how many things in this park are “water access only!” That’s so cool! What a unique place to visit. I love that about our National Parks!

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 12, 2020

      Right? VNP is a truly unique place and one of our lesser talked about National Parks!

  2. Reply

    Kevin Wagar

    February 10, 2020

    I have been dying to get up to Voyageurs. I’m planning a trip up north next summer, so hopefully, with this great information, I can pull off a side trip from Sleeping Giant!

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 10, 2020

      Awesome Kevin! I’m hoping to write another post on more detailed things to do when there, but I know that lodging is a big one that people wonder about, so I started there 🙂

  3. Reply

    Lauren Stites

    February 10, 2020

    What a beautiful park! I had never heard of this park until this post and now I’d love to visit. especially to stay on one of those houseboats!

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 10, 2020

      The houseboats are awesome! Some of them have slides off of the top, hot tubs, and so many other cool features! It is definitely an awesome family experience!

  4. Reply

    Julie

    February 9, 2020

    What a great comprehensive post!! We love spending time on the water so I know we’d love the park!

    • Reply

      Jen

      February 9, 2020

      The natural beauty here is absolutely breathtaking! I haven’t been anywhere like it!

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