National Park Service wants input and ideas about boat tours in Voyageurs National Park

The Voyageur tour boat docked at Kettle Falls. (National Park Service)
When 40 percent of a National Park is water, boats play an important role in providing access. But not everyone has access to watercraft. That’s why the Voyageurs National Park offers multiple tour boat options during the summer on the big lakes that dominate the park on the Canadian border.

Current offerings include the Voyageur, a 45-passenger boat based on Rainy Lake, with tours including a 2.5-hour Grand Tour and a 2-hour Life on the Lake Tour, and an 18-passenger pontoon boat, the Amik, with tours including a 5.5-hour Kettle Falls Cruise, and a 1.5-hour Ellsworth Rock Garden Cruise. The boats are also available for private charter as staffing and boat availability allows.

Tour boats provide an up-close look at some of the park’s 650 miles of undeveloped shorelines and 500 islands, spread across 84,000 acres of water.

The 59-foot, two-level Voyageur was acquired in 2010 with a Congressional appropriation for $1.4 million. It uses “advanced bio-diesel engine technology” designed to use less fuel, and to take diesel blended with biological products for reduced dependence on petroleum. Before its arrival, the park did not have regular tour boat access for more than a decade.

Boat tours are operated by National Park Service rangers, with ticket prices ranging from $25-40 for adults and less for children. The tour season generally runs between mid-June and the end of September each year. All tour boat reservations are managed by Recreation.gov.

Now, the National Park is asking for input as it considers how it might change the services in the future. The agency says input “will be used to aide in development of management options for future potential operations.”

The Park Service is asking for answers to these questions:

  • Have you been on a boat tour at Voyageurs National Park?
  • If so, would you consider going on a boat tour again?
  • What do you like about the boat tours that you have been on?
  • What do you want to see improve on the boat tours?
  • If you have not been on a Voyageurs National Park boat tour, please share why. (Examples of reasons may include having not been to the park, cost-prohibitive, No interest, did not know Voyageurs offers boat tours.)
  • What other comments might you have related to the current and future operation of tour boats within the park?

The comment period is open until Monday, February 8, 2020. Input may be submitted online, emailed to voya_superintendent@nps.gov, or mailed to: Superintendent, Voyageurs National Park, 360 Highway 11 East, International Falls, MN 56649.

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