Voyageurs & Isle Royale 2018
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2018 03:46 PM

Added pictures in my profile   10.4.18

On a quest to see national parks, we decided to go north to Minnesota and Michigan. There we explored Voyageurs NP and Isle Royale NP as well as other parks. Both national parks are rarely visited. Voyageurs is water-based and Isle Royal is an island. Boats were utilized in each case and also in other parks. So you don't like boat rides, this excursion is not for you. I had never seen any of the Great Lakes so I was ready to remedy that. Also on my bucket list was the headwaters of the Mississippi.


Lake Itasca State Park - Mississippi River Headwaters

International Falls, Minnesota

Voyageurs NP, Minnesota

   Kabetogama VC - boat tour to Kettle Falls

   Rainy VC - exhibits and trails

   Ash River VC - trail

Grand Portage National Monument, Minnesota

Grand Portage State Park, Minnesota

Ferry from Grand Portage to Windigo, Ise Royale, Michigan

Gooseberry Falls, Minnesota

Pictured Rocks National Seashore, Michigan

Keweenaw Peninsula, Michigan

Apostle Islands Natural Seashore, Wisconsin

St. Croix Riverway, Wisconsin


July 5- Travel Day. Flew to Minneapolis, rented a car then drove to Lake Itasca State Park, home of the Mississippi River Headwaters. Walked across the Mississippi on very slippery rocks, only luck kept me from busting it. Continued to International Falls for the night. Fort Frances, Canada could have been visited by crossing the Rainy River but we didn't.

July 26- Voyageurs NP. There are three visitor centers in the park: Rainy Lake, Kabetogama and Ash River. Drove to Kabetogama to take 1.5 hr boat tour to Kettle Falls where we were sometimes in US and other times in Canada. No problem since we didn't stop to fish along the way. If we had, we would have needed a Canadian fishing license. We hopped from island to island looking for bald eagle nests, other wildlife and historical sights. Saw Namakan Lake. Weather was mild. The Kettle Falls Hotel was interesting.

July 27- Drove to Rainy Lake VC to check out the trails and view. Did part of the Oberholtzer Trail then continued on to Ash River Area on the way to Grand Portage NM. Ash RIver seemed to be where one could rent canoes and kayaks for ones younger than us. We did a small part of the Kab-Ash. Continued on to Grand Portage State Park where we saw High Falls on the Pigeon River, the river that caused the voyageurs to take the 7 mile grand portage to Ft Charlotte upstream. High Falls was impressive.

July 28- Left early in the morning in a tour boat to Windigo on Isle Royale. This is the west access to Isle Royale and is only about 1.5 hours. The east access is from Michigan's Copper Harbor and is much longer - 3+ hours to Rock Harbor, Isle Royale. We originally planned to take that tour also but skipped it in favor of a peninsula. We enjoyed the solitude at Windigo but did not see moose---had reports they were everywhere. Did the Windigo Nature Trail. The return trip was cold!!!! Wearing a t-shirt, long-sleeved shirt, sweat shirt, wind-breaker and poncho were not enought to keep me from freezing!! No matter what time of the year you are there, Lake Superior is cold. Course we didn't complain having left hot weather at home. Driving to Ironwood, MI we stopped at Gooseberry Falls on the North Shore of Lake Superior.

July 29- We took the extended boat tour at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the South Shore in Michigan. It was different. Took the Miners Falls Trail to the falls. We stayed the night at Calumet MI. I should mention that the heavy spring rains in Wisconsin caused us detours.

July 30- Before planning this trip I had never heard of the Keweenaw Peninsula. Exploring it was one reason that we skipped the Copper Harbor boat tour to Rock Harbor, Isle Royale. Another was the length of the boat ride. Calumet and other places on the peninsula have a history of copper mining. Found out that the strata on Keweenaw is the same strata that makes up Isle Royale and hence the same type copper deposits. We used info from the Calumet Visitor Center to plan our trip. We started with the Keweenaw Heritage Visitor Center in Calumet and were really happy that we did. We decided to explore the Delaware Copper Mine instead of visiting the NPH Quincy site. We then toured historic Ft Wilkins near Copper Harbor. We drove the scenic coast to the Eagle Harbor area after driving the scenic Brockway Mountain Drive. Sure could have used more time on the peninsula. We stayed at Ironwood MI.

July 31- The next stop was Apostle Islands National Lakeshore WI. After the obligatory boat tour around the islands, we did the Meyers Beach trail to see the sea caves which were very interesting. Be sure to go to the visitor center which is located in an historic building.

August 1- On the way back to the airport in Minneapolis we stopped at the vistor center at the St Croix Riverway. St Croix was one of the first 8 wild and scenic rivers designated in 1968. Was their 50th anniversary and they were proud. I was glad to see it having seen another one- Rogue River in Oregon. Also were introduced to the Ice Age Trail of which we had never heard.

Conclusion: We could have used more time in Voyageurs and most places we stopped. Isle Royale is set up to accomodate overnight campers as was evident as we tried booking boat rides. We only had 4 hours on the island with 3+ hours on the boat. Had we taken the boat from Copper Harbor, it would have taken up to 7+ hours on the boat and 4 hours on the island. This was the only reasonable way to see the eastern part of Isle Royale. We passed up the boat tour to Rock Harbor, Isle Royale having already seen Windigo from the Minnesota side. Keweenaw Peninsula made up for it. We were prepared for mosquitos but only ran across them at the Oberholtzer Trail. We were lucky.

I was ready to move to Keweenaw until I remembered that we have winters down here and they have WINTERS up there. Example: A story was told that a man who accepted a job at Kettle Falls drove up in his car and asked how he could drive to Kettle Falls. He was told that there were no roads to Kettle Falls so he could park it at Ash River until the ice was thick enough for him to drive over! I got cold just thinking about that.

As always, we have no regrets on visiting these parks. Have never regretted visiting ANY national park! Now up to 42 parks and counting.