Minnesota’s Voyageurs National Park Listed As One Of Least-Visited, And That’s Just Fine
I read an article recently that shared a list of least visited national parks. Some may be surprised to see that Minnesota's beautiful Voyageurs National Park made the list.
Voyageurs National Park is located near International Falls, Minnesota. It's right on the Canadian border and consists of four large lakes and over 500 islands. There are dozens of boat-in campsites, rustic backcountry tent campsites, and even smaller lakes accessible by trail systems.
So the article lists the least 15 visited National Parks in the US. Voyageurs came in at number 14 with 243,042 recreation visits in 2021. I thought that was a pretty big number. The least visited national park in the entire United States was the Gates of the Arctic National Park & Preserve in Alaska. There were just 7,362 recreation visits last year. The Alaska parks make up almost half of the list because they are so remote and some don't even have roads. It's just wilderness.
Voyageurs is also a very remote area. The best way to enjoy Voyageurs is by boat. You can put a lot of miles of lakes on in your boat trip just to get to your campsite. I bought a nicer used boat a few years ago and I was convinced that the gas gauge didn't work. On our trip to voyageurs I learned that it was not stuck on full, I just hadn't traveled that far on the water with it. I ended up going through over 20 gallons of fuel that weekend just getting around. It's a massive park.
When I saw that Voyageurs made the list of least visited, my initial reaction was GOOD! That's because if it was a busier national park it would completely miss the point of going to Voyageurs. When we went on a camping trip, the nearest people to us were at least a mile away. At night it was so quiet that all you could hear was rustling in the woods that would make you hang on to your bear spray.
Also, it's not logistically set up for more visitors. The more accessible campsites already get booked up each year. There have been times we haven't been able to find one. It's as busy as it should be. I'm not saying that more people shouldn't enjoy its beauty, but 240,000 plus people going is already a good number.
In fact, some of the most visited parks in the United States are running into capacity issues. CNN Travel reported on how the National Park Service actually had to roll out a timed entry program for places like Arches National Park in Utah.
For me, the whole point of going to a place like Voyageurs is to get away from civilization and crowds. It's so remote that it's been certified as a Dark Sky Park. That means there is so little light pollution at night that you can see the stars brilliantly on a clear night. It really is amazing, and if you're lucky you'll even see the Northern Lights.