Voyageurs National Park, MN: 8/11 – 8/15/2021

The first time we were in Minnesota was back in 2018 when we began our journey. We came in from the east and travelled along Route 90 along the southern border of the state. This time, we were coming from the west and traveling along the northern border. Minnesota is known as the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

To the north, Minnesota borders Canada and Lake Superior, the largest of the five Great Lakes. We found a campsite at Echo Lake Campground, located about 60 miles southwest of Voyageurs NP. It features 24 campsites at $12/night, with only a few “First Come, First Serve” FCFS sites. We were lucky to get the “premier” site with only a short walk to the water.

Site #16

In the morning, we drove a little over an hour to the Ash River Visitor Center entrance to the park.

Voyageurs is a water-based park. Travel to the 500-plus islands and 655 miles of shoreline is by water-craft. Many years ago, these waterways include an important segment of a 3,000-mile fur trade route of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The big demand was for hats – beaver hats desired by fashionable Europeans. As the fur trade expanded, it relied on the “voyageurs”, or French-Canadian canoe men, to muscle trade goods and furs between Montreal and the Canadian northwest. It is interesting to note that the voyageurs shaped the international boundary between the U.S. and Canada, and the legacy of these voyageurs inspired the naming of this national park.

We enjoyed a short .5 mile hike to Vermillion Falls, and then drove to the trailhead for a longer 3.2 mile hike on the Vermilion Gorge Trail.

Overlooking a beaver dam
Vermillion Gorge near Crane Lake

We enjoyed sunny and pleasant, dry weather with low 70’s during the day and low 40’s overnight. For August, this was pleasantly enjoyable!

Our next planned adventure was a drive along Minnesota’s North Shores, which is the shoreline of Lake Superior that runs from Duluth, Minnesota, in the south, up to Ontario, Canada. The shore is characterized by cobblestone beaches, rocky cliffs and ridges, scenic rivers and waterfalls, and hillside forests. Since we planned to stay at state parks, we purchased a $35 year-round vehicle permit that provides unlimited visits to all 75 Minnesota state parks and recreation areas for a full year from the month of purchase. We had no prior camping reservations, and soon found out that there was NO room in the inn along the shoreline. So, we had to nix our trip to Isle Royale National Park as there was no place to park our RV. Instead, we drove south to Duluth, enjoying the scenery from the comfort of our truck. We found a campsite in Duluth at Jay Cooke State Park for one night only. It was time to adjust our plans again. Next stop, Apostle Islands, Wisconsin!


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