Nearly 40 percent of Voyageurs National Park is water. The comprises four big lakes (Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point) and 26 smaller lakes. There is 84,000 acres of water, 655 miles of undeveloped shoreline, and more than 500 islands. With wild scenery similar to the neighboring Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, but without many portages, the park is particularly well-suited for kayaks.
Until a few years ago, those kayaks had to compete for campsites with motorized boats. While the vast expanses of the lakes mean kayaks and boats can co-exist with few problems, there was previously no real contest for sites. Paddlers wanting to stay overnight had to either take the first open site they saw, or take their chances.
“We’re just never going to beat out the motorboat,” kayaker Linda Pascoe of Maple Grove recently told the St. Cloud Times. “Your whole time up there can be trying to figure out where you’re staying.”
A campsite reservation system the Park Service implemented last year has changed that. After decades of first-come, first-serve, visitors now have an equal opportunity to get a site, no matter what kind of watercraft they are using.
There is still no entrance fee to the National Park, but reservations run from $16 to $35 per night, depending on the type of campsite. More information is available on the Park’s website. Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov.