10 Days Paddling Voyageurs National Park

Northern Lights with the boat dock in the foreground with people on it
The view from the group fire-it area at the Pines of Kabaetogama Resort

Voyageurs National Park is a stunning destination that offers visitors a chance to experience the natural beauty of Minnesota’s Northwoods. One of our goals was to see the Voyageurs National Park northern lights. Another goal was to witness the voyageurs National Park eagles. The park’s many lakes, waterways, and forests provide endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking, fishing, boating, and wildlife watching. Whether you’re interested in exploring the park’s many trails, paddling through its pristine waters, or simply relaxing in its peaceful surroundings, Voyageurs National Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. With its scenic vistas, abundant wildlife, and countless recreational opportunities, a visit to Voyageurs National Park is sure to be an unforgettable experience, and maybe witness the Voyageurs National Park Northern Lights.

We took 3 days driving to Voyageurs National Park. We stayed the first night at the Lakeside Campground in Jamestown North Dakota. It was a nice campground with water and electricity and a dump station. We drove to Bemidji Minn. and stayed the night in a Walmart parking lot which was a first for us.

To use this map click on the icon in the upper left corner to pull down the menu and select points of interest from there.

It was good to finally get to The Pines of Kabetogama. This is a beautiful resort with some upper Cliffside RV sites, some of them with a view. We opted to stay in a Lake Level site which was on the same level as the office, marina, grass areas with large fire rings, and a small beach where we could launch our kayaks. All sites have full hookups. For a link to the beautiful resort click HERE

The Pines of Kabetogama Resort

We loved this resort and if it wasn’t so far from our home I think it would be a yearly trip for us. The owners of this resort and the staff were among the friendliest and most helpful that we have experienced. The Lake by the resort is sparsely populated with a Visitor Center about a mile away but after launching the kayaks it only took about 15 minutes to get to the closest uninhabited island with small islands as far as you can see.

kayaking the lakes

Boating and wildlife

It was so peaceful and relaxing paddling around the islands and the only people you saw were the occasional fisherman.

We saw many bald eagles on our paddling trips but it was difficult getting photos because it just wasn’t feasible to take a long lens out in the kayak.

The resort does have 7 or 8 boats that you can rent and we did on 2 occasions. The boat had an electric trolling motor which made it easy to move around the islands without disturbing the eagles. Lorna did the driving and I took the photos. On the 2nd day, we had the boat we made the run from the resort down to the Ash River and motored up the river. On the way back we saw lots of eagles again and some loons, one with a loonlet she was feeding.

The bald eagle and loon photos were taken with a Tamron 150-600mm lens. Check it out in the Photography Gear Guide

We drove over to the Ash River Visitor Center and did a couple of short hikes in the area. We also drove up to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center and into International Falls.

International Falls

From International Falls we drove into Fort Frances, Canada. When we were planning this trip a friend told us to be sure to visit Fort Frances but I didn’t research it before the trip so I thought there was an actual fort. Well, there isn’t, so when we pulled up to the Canadian entrance and the officer asked us what we were going to do in Fort Frances I said we were going to visit the fort she just rolled her eyes and told us to pull up to the office and talk to another officer. This officer wasn’t too happy since we didn’t fill out the online forms before trying to enter but he eventually let us in. Since there was no fort to visit, and most things were closed on Sunday, all we did was go to Walmart and do some grocery shopping.

The Northern Lights

We had planned our next leg to visit Isle Royale National Park and take a ferry from Grand Portage to the island but the day before we were going to leave The Pines of Kabetogama we got an email saying all ferries to the island had been canceled and since it was Labor Day weekend we couldn’t find another spot locally. The wonderful owners of the Resort let us stay in a spot generally used for seasonal employees.

We are so glad they found a place for us because, for the next three nights, we were treated to The Voyageurs National Park Northern Lights. light show. Having never seen the Northern Lights before it was a real treat. We ended up staying here 11 nights and enjoyed our stay. This resort is a very special place. One couple said this is a place that you don’t just come and observe but become a part of.

Northern Lights with a boat dock sound with  Voyageurs National Park Northern Lights.

Northern Lights with a boat, dock and trees in the foreground with  Voyageurs National Park Northern Lights.

For the camera set-up that I use for nighttime photography of the Voyageurs National Park Northern Lights.see the Photography Gear Guide

I couldn’t end the post without mentioning the beautiful sunrises and sunsets.

The orange and purple sky reflected in the lake

Blue and pink sky reflected in the lake with trees


Our stay at The Pines of Kabetogama was a memorable and enjoyable experience. The resort’s stunning location and well-equipped facilities provided us with a comfortable and relaxing stay. The staff and owners were friendly and accommodating, making us feel welcome and at home throughout our visit. The peaceful and sparsely populated lake allowed us to enjoy kayaking and boating, where we could spot bald eagles and other wildlife. We also took the opportunity to explore the nearby visitor centers and hiking trails. The beautiful sunrises and sunsets were the perfect way to end each day. Although the resort is far from our home, we would definitely recommend it to others and hope to return in the future.

It was a 250-mile drive to Taylor Falls MN and our next destination Interstate State Park, Minn.

Lorna’s Tips and Lessons

Voyageurs National Park is definitely one of my favorite places I’ve ever been to. During my visit, I talked to a couple who said that many national parks are places where you can only observe, but at Voyageurs, you become a part of it. I was going through a rough patch in my life, as I lost my favorite pet a week before the trip, a good friend had passed away, my mother was dying and one of my best friends got the news her breast cancer had returned. Being in nature is a great healing mechanism, as it reduces stress, lowers blood pressure, improves mental outlook, provides essential nutrients such as Vitamin D, and decreases pain. It felt like a hug from God being here at this moment in my life.

During our trip, we spent our days kayaking and trolling in the waters of Voyageurs lake. I had previously mentioned kayaks in an earlier Huntington Lake post about this trip, but I did not mention the life jackets we use. I do not like wearing bulky life vests, and I feel comfortable enough kayaking to know it is unlikely I would be submerged in the lake unless by choice. Therefore, the automatic/manual inflatable life vest has been perfect for me. I do recommend keeping an extra CO2 cartridge or a regular kayaking life jacket just in case.

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