Paddling the Route of the Voyageurs
In our modern lives, adventure is something we seek and schedule. For most of us, adventure is a choice. However, for the Voyageurs in in the mid 1700’s through the mid 1800’s, adventure was a way of life. The French Canadian paddlers were legendary for their enduring power and gritty toughness as they moved furs and other goods via the natural waterways of the northwest territories – often for up to 16 hours a day.
Rainy Lake and Rainy River were common stops along the Voyageurs highway, which linked the great lakes to the interior of the country. Today, these same canoe routes exist virtually unchanged since the days of the Voyageurs, offering visitors to Rainy Lake and Rainy River the chance to adventure through history.
Before grabbing your paddle, take time to research and plan your trip. A good place to begin is the Voyageurs National Park Rainy Lake Visitor Center, where you’ll find historical information, maps, regulations and advice for following the path of the intrepid voyageur. What’s more, the center offers the opportunity to paddle back in history aboard a 26-foot North Canoe, where groups can explore the life of the voyageur, complete with paddle salutes and rowing songs.
If you have your own canoe or kayak, remember to stop at one of the park’s visitor centers for guidelines and safety recommendations before launching. Be sure to consider is the weather conditions as well, since Rainy Lake’s many islands and open water can lead to quickly-developing storms. If you plan on exploring the Canadian side of Rainy, you’ll need the required identification and other documentation.
Hire it Out
If you’re not familiar with the area, or you don’t have a boat and other equipment, you can work with a local outfitter, who will provide everything you need, from canoe or kayak, to paddles, life jackets, and possibly even shore lunch! Many will even paddle along with you, pointing out landmarks, significant islands and outlets.
The Voyageurs left behind very little, other than tales of strength and endurance that have been handed down through generations. If you follow in their paddle strokes, be sure that you also bring home only stories and memories, which, after all, is true to the path of the voyageur.
Plan your Trip
We look forward to your upcoming visit to the Rainy Lake area! We are available to help with lodging and other accommodations. Reach out and Plan your Trip!
The International Falls Bass Championship will be the center of attention through the weekend. This catch-and-release contest has become one of the premier Minnesota fishing events. It's much more than a fishing contest, with daily and nightly entertainment, foot races and more. Their website is www.ifallsbass.com
So what should you expect if you get out to wet a line, we thanks the Rainy Lake Guide Association for providing this fishing report, and guide Bruce Jean for providing a nice photo.
Walleye: Walleyes continue hold their deep water presence on most of the Rainy Lake’s reefs or mid-lake humps as some fisherman refer to them. Actively using electronics to mark schools of fish is the key. The depths of these fish appear to change almost daily ranging from as shallow as 20 feet to as deep as 36. A ¼ oz. jig and minnow has been working well, lindy rigs with a minnow or leech has been working when fish are finicky.
Crappie: Crappies remain in deeper water along breaklines and submerged brush with most of them being caught in the 18 to 30 foot range. Jigs and minnows have been working well.
Smallmouth Bass: Some bass are being caught in deeper water ranging from 12 to 25 feet. Weighted plastics have been a good choice along with crank baits and lipless baits. Other bass remain in shallow water along rocky shorelines and points. Again, plastics, twitch baits and spinner baits are catching fish.
Northern Pike: With the warming water of August much of Rainy Lake’s pike population has moved to deeper water. Casting or trolling water ranging from 15 to 40 feet has been the best bet for catching larger pike. That being said pike continue to be caught on windblown points and weed beds. Spinner baits, buzz baits, spoons, and larger jerk or twitch baits have proven successful.
This post was brought to you by Rainy Lake Guide Association.
Exploring Rainy River
The Rainy River forms part of the border between Minnesota and Ontario and is a haven for anglers and boaters of all stripes. Perhaps best known for fishing, the river is one of the world’s top destinations for premiere walleye fishing each spring and is also home to other game fish. In addition to anglers, canoers and kayakers enjoy Rainy River’s numerous access points along its 85-mile route, and its many resorts provide a welcome rest regardless of the day’s activities.
Flowing from approximately the west end of Rainy Lake and the communities of International Falls, MN and Fort Frances, ON, the river travels west-northwest to Baudette, MN, and Rainy River, ON, then enters Four Mile Bay on Lake of the Woods.
Rainy River’s watershed is largely forested and composed of peatland and bogs that were part of Lake Agassiz 10,000 years ago. In the past, its waters were used by fur traders, lumber mills and commercial fishing boats.
Rainy River is counted among the finest fishing destinations in America. Each spring, resident walleyes flood the waterway, offering anglers the chance to land a “lunker.” The early fishing season runs approximately early March through mid-April (check the MN DNR website for exact dates each year). Though walleye is the river’s premier gamefish species, anglers also target sturgeon, smallmouth bass and northern pike. Notable Rainy River catches include a 35.1-inch walleye (released) and a 100-plus pound sturgeon (also released).
Because Rainy River is between the U.S. and Canada, anglers who plan to fish the Canadian side of the river must have a valid Ontario fishing license, as well as an Outdoors Card and a Remote Area Border Crossing permit.
U.S. Rainy River Access Points
Multiple access points mean options abound for exploring Rainy River. Camping is not allowed at the following boat launch sites unless otherwise noted.
Jim Hartje proves there are big walleye in Rainy Lake by sharing his photo of a 12 pound 10 ounce walleye. The Rainy Lake Guide Association says "Go deep" here's their tip of the week and latest fishing report.
Tip of the week: Deep water fishing often requires the use of a marker buoy. Placement of this simple tool can make a big difference in your success and fishing experience. First; make sure you throw the buoy far enough away from the fish you intend to catch so that it won’t become entangled in your lines. There is nothing worse than a marker buoy placed right on top of the fish you are trying to catch. Second; take note of the wind direction. Most people work their boat back and forth over the fish by powering up into the wind and maintaining a controlled drift back again over the fish. Place your buoy so that you can easily look up from your fishing location in the boat and see the buoy without having to turn around. This will help you maximize your time directly over the fish and save you from a stiff neck at the end of the day.
Walleye: Deep water fishing continues to be the key in recent weeks. This trend, as expected, continues. Mid-lake hump fishing on most of Rainy Lakes reefs have been producing fish. People are having good success catching fish anywhere from 20 to 40 feet depending on the day and weather patterns. Fishing with a ¼ oz jig tipped with a chub or shiner have been the consistent favorite. Lindy rigs with leeches have also been a strong producer. Lindy rigs with a tail hooked minnow are sometimes a good trick when fish become a little finicky.
Crappie: Crappies continue to hold in deeper water in the 15 o 30 foot range. Electronics is the key to finding them. Jigs and minnows or slip bobber presentations have been most successful.
Smallmouth Bass: Top water, spinner baits, twitch baits and plastics continue to catch fish holding in the 3 to 10 foot range. Rocky structures as well as weeds are a good bet. Some bass are beginning to hold in slightly deeper water. Shallow humps and break-lines have produced a few fish in the 10 to 25 foot range
Northern Pike: Trolling large crank baits on and around deeper structures continues to be a good technique for catching larger pike. Patience is the key in this game. That being said, windblown points and deeper weed structures are holding pike as well. Casting spinner baits and larger jerkbaits or twitch baits have brought success.
Guide to the Rocks of Rainy Lake
The natural beauty of Rainy Lake – the deep navy water, multi-hued pines and active wildlife – draws people from across the globe to her shores. One of the area’s most distinguishing features is its unique rock features, which include some of North America’s oldest examples. In fact, when you gaze upon the exposed rock of Rainy’s shores and islands, you’re seeing the creation of North America.
A Long, Long Time Ago
Voyageurs National Park, which is made up of four lakes – Rainy, Kabetogama, Sand and Namakan – is situated at the southern side of the Canadian shield, a huge rock basement that features an impressive selection of Precambrian rocks that are between 2.5 to 4.5 billion years old. In addition to the park, these rocks can only be seen in Wyoming, Greenland and some areas of Canada.
Precambrian rocks were formed by tectonic plate processes in the continental crust. The Precambrian period is divided into the Archean period, which dates from around 3,800 – 2.5 million years ago, and the Proterozoic, which is from 2,500 to 540 million years ago. Most rocks in Voyageurs are metamorphic and igneous rocks from the Archean age that formed by layers of ash and lava that underwent uplifting, folding, pressure and superheating.
Over time, erosion wore down the volcanic mountain range, and the ice ages brought glaciers. The area of Rainy Lake went through at least four different glaciation periods, starting around 190,000 years ago.
The glaciers scooped out lake basins, scraped rock surfaces and dragged loose rocks across surfaces. This action exposed the roots of the ancient mountains, the granite, migmatite, and biotite schist you see today. As the glaciers receded, torrents of melted water filled low-lying areas, creating the current landscape: a varied, rugged topography, including rolling hills, slopes and bedrock outcrops amidst beaver ponds, bogs, islands, swamps and lakes.
What to Look For
Evidence of this activity can be seen in glacial erratics and striations. Erratics are round boulders that were carried by the glaciers (ice rafted) and then deposited after melting and can range in size from pebbles to small cars. A good example of this can be seen in Cranberry Bay. The huge, white rock is aptly named the Cranberry Bay Erratic.
Glacial striations look like vertical rocks standing end-on-end. In Voyageurs National Park, striations point south, south by southwest, and southwest in conjunction with glacier movements. Look for examples of striation on Bushy Head and Little American islands.
While you are exploring and learning about the rocks of Rainy Lake, remember that you’re not allowed to remove rocks or other natural materials from Voyageurs park.
The Rainy Lake Guide Association tells us the fishing is pretty good, and the hikers tell us the blueberries are ripe and plentiful. Here's the report we got from the guide association this week.
Walleye: Walleye have made their predicted summer movement to main lake reefs and break lines. People have been most successful using jigs and minnows or lindy-rigs and leaches. Walleyes can change depths daily so don’t be afraid to spend a little extra time searching with your electronics to pinpoint the best locations.
Crappie: Crappies have moved out to deeper structures in the 15 o 30 foot range. Using your electronics to find them is important. Jigs and minnows or slip bobbers have been the best tools.
Smallmouth Bass: Bass have been caught with a variety of techniques. Top water, spinner baits, twitch baits and plastics are all catching fish depending on the situation and weather patterns. Rocky shorelines, points and weed/rock combinations have been holding fish.
Northern Pike: Small pike often appear to be everywhere; rocks, weeds, and deeper structure. Large pike have been caught trolling large deep diving crank baits, typically near or at the same depths as the walleyes are being caught. Both break-lines and reef structures have been effective. Deeper weed lines casting spinner baits, larger jerk baits, twitch baits, and spoons have also proved successful.
As for the blueberries, they can be found on islands throughout Rainy Lake and it is legal to gather some for your own consumption in the National Park. Outside the Park, roam the forestry roads of Koochiching County and check rock outcroppings. A bonus will be spotting wild raspberries, which are also ripe and plentiful.
This post was brought to you by Rainy Lake Guide Association.
The northern lights have fascinated humans from the earliest times. Also known as aurora borealis, which comes from the Latin words for sunrise and north, the natural phenomenon can take many shapes and hues. From colors that dance across the night horizon, to spears of light that lance the sky, the Northern Lights can be seen throughout the year over the middle and high latitudes of the northern hemisphere, including Rainy Lake.
When to View
It’s been estimated that the northern lights can be seen 200 times per year in Northern Minnesota. The best time to see them is when the arrival of the solar radiation and particles corresponds with an evening when moonlight is at a minimum and the weather is clear. Auroras seem to be more active near the first day of spring and fall, and your chances of seeing them are best when there are more hours of darkness. You can determine which nights have better chances by checking out “aurora forecasts” online such as the one from the University of Alaska at Fairbanks.
Where to See the Show
Rainy Lake and Voyageurs National Park are ideal places to watch northern lights because of the area’s miles of wilderness that is free from the light pollution present in cities. In addition to a moonless, clear night, you need open views to the North and Northeast.
Suggested locations to view the northern lights in Voyageurs National Park:
Rainy Lake Visitor Center
Ash River Visitor Center
Voyageurs Forest Overlook Parking Lot
Check out this awesome Time-Lapse of Voyageurs National Park Featured in National Geographic!
International Falls and the surrounding area offer an abundance of lodging options for visitors to Rainy Lake. When it comes to choosing where to stay, it’s all about your needs.
Resorts, Cabins and B&B’s
Whether your goal is simply R&R, landing a trophy fish or connecting with friends and family, a Rainy Lake resort or cabin is an ideal home base for all lake activities. Resorts provide hotel-quality amenities, and most include restaurants and bars, as well as access to boat rentals, fishing guides and other services. Cabins offer the best of both worlds by providing additional privacy for you and your party. Resorts and cabin are perfect not only for families and large groups, but also couples and smaller fishing parties. These options emphasize quintessential cabin living, where priorities include watching the sunset, hooking a “keeper” walleye, and gathering ‘round a campfire.
Hotels and Motels
Located approximately 10-15 miles from Rainy Lake, hotels and motels can be more economical options. Popular with those who plan to spend all day on the lake, then return to clean, comfortable rooms for a good night’s sleep in order to repeat the same schedule the following day. Most have restaurants either on-site or next door, and many offer jacuzzi suites and other premium options such as an indoor pool. Open year-round, hotels and motels are gathering places for snowmobile enthusiasts who take advantage of the area’s winter climate to explore miles of wilderness trails.
With all the comforts of home coupled with the adventure of boat living, houseboat trips are perfect for families with members of all ages. Activity awaits around every island and hidden cove, from swimming and fishing to hiking and late-night camp fires. But houseboats are also a great choice for other groups and couples as well. Fishing parties will appreciate having a floating home base to return to, while everyone will enjoy exploring Rainy Lake up close.
Camping in Voyageurs
While sleeping under the stars (or at least a tent) may not appeal to everyone, Voyageurs National Park campsites feature the kinds of amenities that can convert the staunchest urbanite. Voyageurs National Park has more than 270 developed visitor sites, including 46 front country campsites that are accessible only by boat. These sites, which feature some of Rainy’s most spectacular views, include things to make your trip easy and safe, including bear-proof food lockers, tent pads, fire rings, picnic tables and vaulted toilets.
We've been having some great weather for summer recreation and enough rain to hold down the fire danger. and keep the forests green with fresh growth. That's a good thing for the forest wildlife.
The Rainy Lake Guide Association tells us walleye are making their way to the typical main lake structures. Fish the reef tops from 15 to 20 with 1/8 to 1/4 oz jigs, lindy rigs or slip bobbers. Minnows and leeches have both been working well.
Crappie can be found on shoreline breaks and sunken brush piles in the 18 to 28 foot range. Check the rocky shorelines for smallmouth bass and expect northern pike on the deeper structures.
Berry picking time is at hand, blueberries are pretty plentiful and can be found on islands throughout the Park. Raspberries might be a bit more common on the edges of forestry roads in Koochiching County.
Birders and wildlife watchers are being treated to whitetail does with fawns in tow. There are lots of nice hiking trails where you are likely to encounter wildlife.
Rainy Lake and Rainy River offer a host of activities for outdoor enthusiasts throughout the year, from fishing and boating to snowmobiling and skiing. The following are some basic – and more obscure – facts about Rainy Lake and the surrounding area.
Rainy Lake is home to Minnesota’s only National Park, Voyageurs, which was established in 1975.
Rainy Lake is a remnant of Lake Agassiz, which was formed as the glaciers retreated north during the last ice age 50,000 to 10,000 years ago.
If International Falls sounds familiar it’s most likely because of a national weather reports referring to the city as “The Icebox of the Nation.”
Impress your friends with these lesser-known facts:
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Considered by many to be the top multi-species lake in the world, Rainy Lake is an angler’s dream. Ripe with walleye, northern pike, smallmouth, black crappies and muskies, Rainy doesn’t have an “off season.” But this wide variety, coupled with the fact that Rainy covers almost 230,000 acres, can make finding fish a daunting task. For both beginning and pro anglers, hiring a fishing guide can take the guess work out of your trip and ensure you make the most of your time on the lake.
How to Hire a Guide
Begin your guide search here by checking out the websites listed and then calling your top picks. A conversation is essential to determine which guide will be a good fit for your and your party, especially if you are fishing with children.
Points of Etiquette
Your guide is dedicated to making your time on Rainy successful and memorable. Here are a couple things you can do to help:
If you’re staying at a lodge, often the owner or manager will be able to schedule a guide for you. Many guides work exclusively with lodges, so check before you begin your search.
We are having a little hot weather, and it will be great to get out on Rainy Lake. Go fishing, swim, water ski, canoe or just splash around. Rainy Lake is what the National Park is all about, enjoying this important and historic waterways crossroads.
Acreage Life magazine featured Voyageurs National Park in their latest issue. This magazine appeals to farmers throughout the Midwest. Their article points out that while it may be hot and humid where their readers are toiling away, we are enjoying relatively moderate weather and the remoteness and pristine nature of our Park.
The Rainy Lake Guide Association can help you out if you need to arrange a charter fishing trip, do a private tour of the Park, or just get a ride to an island campsite, beach, picnic area or hiking trail. They also post a report on their website. https://www.rainylakeguideassociation.com/the-fishing-weather-reports
While fishing, boating and other water activities are often the main attraction on Rainy Lake, don’t miss the opportunity to explore the area by bike. A 12-mile paved trail runs adjacent to Highway 11 from International Falls to the Voyageurs National Park Visitors Center and offers diversions such as ice cream stops, wildlife viewing and even a dip in the lake!
The trail is located just east of the Convention and Visitors Bureau office (301 2nd Avenue), roughly where highway 53 meets highway 11/71 in downtown International Falls. You can park there to begin your eastward journey. This area of the trail features river views on your left, which overlook the community of Fort Frances, Ontario. Note the paper mill at the falls, as well as the wood chips and logs that are piled along the highway before being sent to the mill. Make a stop at the Voyageurs National Park Headquarters (360 Highway 11), where you can enjoy the river views.
Approximately 3 miles west of International Falls is the community of Ranier, marked by a 25-foot statue affectionately known as “Big Vic.” Plan to take time for a detour here. Ranier is a charming village with restaurants, a bar and brewery, as well as an ice cream shop. Chances are good you will see a train, as the Canadian National Railway border crossing in Ranier sees the most railroad cars of any crossing between the U.S. and Canada. This is also where the Rainy Lake flows into the Rainy River, which you can see from the Spruce Street dock. From here, you can either head back to the highway, or bike along County Road 20, which wends through a residential area and past City Beach, where you can cool off with a swim or enjoy a picnic.
Here the bike trail merges with highway 11 for a few miles, while the landscape begins to change. You’ll see some of the only farmland – watch for cranes, geese and deer – as well as an unobstructed view of Rainy Lake at the Jackfish Bay Wayside Park. The trail then turns left at County Road 103 to become enveloped in the wooded landscape.
This part of the trail crosses Tilson Bay, where you can see wild rice growing in the wetlands on the right and Rainy Lake to the left. Stop here to rest on the dock or get in some cross training with a trek on the hiking trail.
Here the trail is on the shoulder of Highway 11, which challenges bikers with a long, gradual uphill climb before again turning to the left and into the woods. Gradual hills make for a fun, not-too-hard ride, while grouse are known to peak out from the underbrush. At the end of the trail, cross Highway 11 to the Rainy Lake Recreation Trail, a wide, paved path that welcomes runners, walkers and bicyclists. Leading to the entrance of Rainy Lake Visitor Center the 1.75-miles include benches for taking a breather while taking in the views of Rainy Lake.
Rainy Lake’s northern neighbor celebrates Canada Day July 1, which means visitors to the area are
treated to not one, but two thrilling fireworks displays every year. Here are the best places to watch the
What to Bring
In addition to lawn or camp chairs, or a blanket for seating, be sure to pack bug spray and an extra
jacket, as Rainy Lake weather can vary in July.
Reports from anglers have been mixed, the bite has been a little slow and concentrations of walleye a little harder to find. However, smallmouth bass have been more active and can be found along the rocky shorelines and weedy edges of the bays along the south shore of Rainy Lake.
Walleye anglers expect the upcoming stretch of stable warm weather will cause the walleye to start congregating on the submerged structure throughout the lake, try checking in about 30 to 35 feet of water.
Rainy River is giving up bass below the dam at International Falls. Although it is now closed, the sturgeon tag season runs from July 1 to September 30 and allows tag holders to keep one per season. The sturgeon must be within the 24 to 50 inch slot, or a trophy size over 75 inches. River stretches near Birchdale are popular for sturgeon, you can launch at Nelson Park below the rapids, or at Franz Jevne State Park above the rapids. Sturgeon also tend to concentrate below the dam at International Falls.
Rising water temperatures also put more people in the lake. City Beach just east of Ranier is a popular spot to soak up a little sun, or splash around some cooler water. There's also a small beach right in Ranier that is available to the public.
Make a memorable ending to your day on Rainy Lake by catching a sunset at one of these easily-accessible sites. Before you go, check a weather app for sunset time and make sure your camera batteries are fully charged.
Voyageurs National Park Headquarters
Located on Highway 11 just east of International Falls, this site faces northwest and provides a view of the Rainy River and the community of Fort Frances, Ontario, on the opposite shore.
Located about 3 miles east of International Falls, the community of Ranier welcomes visitors with a restaurant, bar, brew pub, ice cream shop and several opportunities to catch the sunset. The Ranier River dock has a unique view of the convergence of Rainy Lake and Rainy River, which flows briskly under the railway lift bridge. Located at the end of Ranier’s main street, the Spruce Street dock offers the chance for a leisurely stroll, as well as the chance to see spectacular sunset. When standing at the end of dock, you’ll notice a beach with another dock not far to your right, which is another great place to watch mother nature’s end-of-day light show.
Tilson Bay Wayside Park
Further east on Highway 11, Tilson Bay has a dock, boat launch and parking lot, as well as a trail used for both hiking and cross-country skiing. Those who take the trek are rewarded with a picture-perfect view from a high ridge. You can also watch the setting sun warm the colors of the bog on the south side of the bridge.
If you have boat access, simply head onto the lake and face west for endless photo opps framed by deep blue water and rocky pine shores.
Walleye fishing has been pretty good on Rainy Lake and Rainy River lately. On the Lake, anglers are still finding walleye in about 20 feet of water near the rocky shorelines, but they are also starting to show up around the submerged structures in a little deeper water. The shoals east of Brule Narrows are likely spots.On Rainy river the walleye fishing has been best in areas with stronger current like above and below the Ranier Rapids and below the dam at International Falls. Some northern pike and smallmouth bass are being pulled from the same areas in the river.
Although you may not remember your first sandwich or the first time you put on socks, you can probably recall – perhaps in great detail – your first fishing trip. Part of that memory likely includes who took you on that early adventure. Today you can create the same lasting remembrance for your own children with a fishing trip on Rainy Lake. We’ve got the following tips on how to make it the best possible experience for budding anglers
The most important factor in the success of your first fishing trip is patience. The goal is to introduce your child to the sport in a way that will make him or her want to continue for years to come.
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We've had some nice sunny weather and Rainy Lake is warming, which has triggered a better bite. Walleye are now being found in 18 feet of water around structure like the rocky shorelines or submerged reefs. Popular areas have been around the east end of Sand Bay, the west end of Black Bay and the reefs between Grindstone Island and Brule Narrows. You'll probably be able to hook some bass along the rocky shorelines as well. There have been some good reports on crappie in Black Bay.
Rainy River fishing has been good around areas with stronger current, such as below the Ranier Rapids, downstream from the dam and below the Manitou or Upper Sault rapids.
The forests have greened up nicely and you will be seeing the young of the year, which prompts a reminder. If you see bear cubs, the sow is not far away, and she will be very protective.
ENTER FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN:
A two day exploration for two, valued at $500.00.
One winner, along with their guest of choice, will stay two nights at an International Falls, Rainy Lake or Ranier lodging.
Lodging options can be found here. Options are subject to availability.
They will also receive a guided boat tour of Rainy Lake and Voyageurs National Park (subject to availability) and $150.00 dollars (U.S. value) in the form of Chamber Dollars. This can be used for dining or entertainment at any Chamber Member Business. A list of International Falls Chamber Member Businesses can be found here.
*Prizes are not redeemable for cash.
*One grand prize winner will be awarded.
HOW TO ENTER:
What will you do on Rainy Lake if you win? Tell us in the comments below!
A houseboat trip on Rainy Lake combines the best of both worlds: the comforts of home with the adventure of a wilderness vacation. Both of the area’s two houseboat rental companies* – Rainy Lake Houseboats and Northernaire Houseboats, provide amenities to ensure your trips is both comfortable and safe. That said, there are some items from home you’ll be happy to have with you.
Safety is a serious matter on Rainy Lake, and someone at your rental company will walk you through everything you need to know about operating the vessel.
In the Kitchen
One of the most-appreciated conveniences of a houseboat is the kitchen, which has options that allow you to create anything from gourmet meals to cold cereal with milk.
Your houseboat is designed for maximum fun with decks and swim platforms – some models have slides and hot tubs!
Because Mother Nature doesn’t receive every memo about which days should be full of nothing but clear skies and endless sunshine, it’s a good idea to pack for a rainy day…just in case.
You’ll find beds with pillows and blankets on your houseboat, but it’s nice to have personal items from home.
If, when you are checking in and loading your houseboat, you realize you have forgotten something, let your rental company know. They usually have extra supplies, and a trip to International Falls’ stores is a short car-ride.
*Check with the company you are renting through to ensure your boat model has the items listed here.
Is there anything else you would pack? Let us know in the comments down below!
For campers, Voyageurs National Park is like Lambeau Field for Green Bay Packer fans. Thousands of acres of pristine wilderness beckon to those who love waking up to the call of loons, brewing coffee over a fire and discovering endless Instagram-worthy lake views. All Voyageur National Park (VNP) campsites are accessible only by boat, which is one of the reasons they are so beloved by campers. When you pitch a tent on Rainy, you experience the singular solitude of nature.
Here’s everything you need to know about camping in VNP:
Where to Camp
Campsites are divided into two categories: front country, which includes Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, Sand Point and Crane lakes; and back country, which includes the Chain of Lakes and other interior lakes. Front country tent campsites are accessible only by boat and have a maximum stay of14 consecutive days or no more than 30 in a calendar year. Backcountry tent campsites are accessible by boating to a trailhead and hiking in and have a maximum stay of 7 days in a calendar year. You can reserve canoes and row boats for back country use at www.recreation.gov.
Maximum group size: small campsite - 9, large campsite - 18, group campsite - 30, canoe permit - 3, rowboat permit - 3
Etiquette and Amenities
Many of the campsite in the park have amenities such as privies, tent pads, picnic tables, food lockers and fire rings. In addition to using these, visitors can help keep the park pristine for future trips by following the “Leave No Trace” principles, which include:
By planning your Voyageurs camping trip in advance and following some basic guidelines, you help ensure your time in the park is memorable and enjoyable for everyone. Do you have a favorite memory from camping in Voyageurs National Park? Let us know in the comments down below!
Rainy Lake has been warming, and that makes the fish more active. The walleye bite has been good in about 12 feet of water along the rocky shorelines. Jigging with a minnow is working well, but so is slow trolling a spinner rig and minnow. Some nice northern are being caught along the weedy edges of the bays. Rainy River anglers have been doing well in the stretch from the dam in International Falls to the bend west of the golf course.
The Visitor Centers of Voyageurs National Park
The fact that one-third of Voyageurs National Park is water – including four large lakes, Rainy, Kabetogama, Namakan, and Sand Point – can make it difficult to access and explore. For this reason, the park has established three visitors centers for guests to not only learn more about the area’s history and wildlife, but also understand its unique geography. What’s more, the centers provide hiking trails, naturalist programs, boat tours and water access for watercraft of all types, so you can fully enjoy all the park has to offer.
Rainy Lake Visitor Center
The first thing you see when entering the Rainy Lake Visitor Center is an adult stuffed moose, which serves as the building’s focal point and is a much-photographed feature. Located in the northern part of the park, the center is 11 miles east of International Falls on Highway 11. Several hiking and cross-country skiing trails are accessible from here, including the 1.7-mile Oberholtzer Trail and an immersive Ojibwe Indian camp exhibit open during the summer months.
The Rainy Lake Visitor Center is nestled on the shore of Black Bay and provides views across the water to the Kabetogama Peninsula. A free boat launch serves as an ice road entrance during the winter months, when the center remains open with seasonal hours. You can visit the center anytime or as shelter on rainy days for a variety of indoor activities for the entire family. There’s a theater for viewing a film about the life of the Voyageurs, historical and wildlife displays, a bookstore and children's activity table. The park also offers boat tours and ranger-led programs, including canoe trips out of the visitor center throughout the year.
Rainy Lake Visitor Center
1797 UT 342, International Falls, MN 56649
Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center
Kabetogama is the largest of the Voyageur National Park lakes located entirely in the U.S. It includes 25,000 acres of clean, cool water and more than 100 miles of forested shoreline, with less than 10 miles of it developed on the south shore. Open from late May through September, the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center is a great place to launch your Northwoods adventure. Features include interactive exhibits, a children's activity table, bookstore and theater for viewing a park film. There’s also a free public boat launch, separate paddle access and picnic area.
Several boat tours and ranger-led programs are offered through the Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center. Voyage to historic Kettle Falls Hotel and Dam, explore Ellsworth Rock Gardens, where chances are good you’ll spot a bald eagle, or try your hand as a Voyageur aboard a 26-foot North Canoe. Join park staff as they portray historic characters from the region's past on a Twilight Walk and gather ‘round the campfire for an evening of stories, science, and history of the evening sky.
Kabetogama Lake Visitor Center
9940 Cedar Ln, Kabetogama, MN 56669
Ash River Visitor Center
To reach the third visitor center in Voyageurs National Park, take the scenic Ash River Trail (County Road 129) off Highway 53. Deer are plentiful along the road, which features several scenic outlooks that are worth the stop. The Ash River Visitor Center, open late May through September, is located in the historic Meadwood Lodge. It features a bookstore, children's activity corner, exhibits, and a theater. Nearby picnic tables invite you to relax over your picnic, and a free public boat launch and separate paddle access provide water access.
The center is the starting point for a ranger-lead, 1.5-mile hike along the popular Sullivan Bay Trail. You can also enjoy a tranquil canoe trip while keeping an eye out for wildlife including the Minnesota State Bird, the Common Loon, bald eagles, deer and bear.
Ash River Visitor Center
9899 Mead Wood Rd, Orr, MN 55771
Connect with us for more help planning your trip to Voyageurs National Park.
Canadian Border Crossing Requirements
Straddling the border of the United States and Canada, Rainy Lake provides the opportunity for visitors to explore a foreign country. Although it’s not a difficult process to cross the US/Canadian border, some documentation is required and knowing what you need ahead of time can speed the process.
Crossing the Bridge
To get to Canada, you simply drive or walk across the International Bridge from International Falls to its sister city, Fort Frances, Ontario. Keep in mind, there is a toll bridge of $7 for vehicles crossing the bridge. If you plan on crossing frequently throughout your stay, you can find a discounted border crossing card at local grocery stores and gas stations. If driving, you will need to provide a driver’s license as well as vehicle registration. Border officials are always on the lookout for stolen vehicles or people trying to avoid duties on vehicles purchased out of country. Traveling in a rental car requires additional documentation, which you can learn more about at ezbordercrossing.com.
When you approach the officer, it's best to remove sunglasses and roll down your windows (including back windows if there are passengers sitting in back seats).
Although it’s not required, a passport is strongly recommended when crossing from the U.S. into Canada. In lieu of a passport, you will need to provide other documentation such as a birth certificate, a certificate of citizenship or naturalization, or a Certificate of Indian Status, plus a photo ID.
Entering the United States
One thing to understand about traveling to Canada is that the requirements to enter the U.S. are stricter than those to enter Canada. A good rule of thumb, therefore, is to follow the U.S. requirements, which will ensure you are also covered for Canadian travel.
When arriving by land or water you must present one of the following to enter the United States:
Traveling with Children
In addition to theft, fraud and other crimes, customs officers are vigilant about preventing child abduction. Therefore, when traveling with children, you may be asked for additional information.
Children under age 16 may enter the U.S. or Canada using one of the following:
Be aware that customs officers may question kids old enough to speak for themselves. Prepare them in advance to talk to the officials and explain to them how this helps protect children from abduction. There are additional requirements for children traveling with only one parent. For more information, visit ezbordercrossing.com.
Visiting Canada can be a memorable part of your trip to Rainy Lake. Being prepared ahead of time helps ensure your border crossing will take only minutes, giving you more time to get to know our neighbors to the North.
If you find you are not able to enter Canada, you can still view Canada from International Falls. Plus, International Falls is the gateway community to Voyageurs National Park. There are plenty of reasons to stay and enjoy the activities on the U.S. side.
If you have any questions, our team can help you prepare and plan for your Rainy Lake vacation. Give us a call at (800) 325 5766 or visit our office before you cross at 301 2nd Avenue