There are places bathed in fame, known for their glorious geysers or enchanting peaks. Then there are places shadowed in obscurity, known by few. Voyageurs National Park is the first of the 12 parks we’ve visited where everything seemed to surprise us. We had no idea what to expect going in. My guess is that, unless you are from within 50 miles of this northeastern corner in Minnesota, you might never have heard of the place. Below I share a little prelude, revealing the secrets of Voyageurs before we reveal the imagery.
The roads leading to Voyageurs do not hint at the mystery held within the boundaries of this park. They begin with humble signs pointing you in the right direction, but there are no ranger kiosks or curious bison to warn: you are about to enter a sacred place. Even the trees lining the way are ordinary trees; they offer no clue about what is moments away.
Unless you have a boat, the secrets of Voyageurs will always remain secrets to you.
Seat yourself in a canoe or kayak on Kabetogama Lake, and a whole new world unveils for you.
This is a land of lakes where islands sing an intricate dance between water and stone. You weave yourself through this dance, fitting yourself to the rhythm of currents and waves sculpted by winds that can turn powerful in mere moments. Watch for those northwest winds, they are like the mischievous sibling who strives to tease and torment at every turn. In one swift push you may find yourself beneath your canoe, or so it seems when the waves and current suddenly turn you about.
Yet, when the winds change in this land of lakes, you feel the softer side of Nature, a gentle caress carrying you wherever your soul desires. This is how you discover the secrets of Voyageurs.
A cry echoes across the glass waters. Wings flap against the still air, and you turn about. There, in the distance! A white head glimmers like a beacon from the tree tops of an island. You slice your paddle like knife through soft butter into the fluid body of water. What lives below, you may never know. What thrives above is now mere strokes away as you glide smoothly beneath a hot August sun.
The secrets of Voyageurs are the abundant bald eagles, they are gardens of stone, they are ghosts of voyaging traders, they are where air meets water and loons mingle around islands hidden by sea gulls.
Above and beyond these secrets, the greatest of all is the secret in your soul. It’s what you feel when you are in a middle of an endless lake and cannot put words to what’s within.