Winter in Voyageurs Overview
Winter is the dominant season here in the far north and therefore comes early and stays late. This coldest area of the continental U.S. sees temperatures routinely fall far below zero with a record low of -55° fahrenheit. Factoring in wind chills brings those already subzero temperatures to new and mind-boggling lows.
While winter in Voyageurs is not for the faint of heart, with the proper winter gear and planning it can be a magical place. The vast lakes freeze over and become highways for snowmobiles and cross-country skiers, as well as the park’s elusive yet thriving wolf packs.
Winter also brings ice-fishing, a favorite local pastime which sees what look like small sheds dotting the frozen lakes, but which are actually ice houses where you can stay out of the cold while waiting for a bite.
Voyageurs in winter is a land of extremes and sees the park transformed with entirely new ways to explore and enjoy this one-of-a-kind destination.
Table of Contents: Winter in Voyageurs
Winter Monthly Temperatures in Voyageurs
|November||33F / 16F|
|December||18F / -1F|
|January||14F / -8F|
|February||22F / -1F|
|March||35F / 12F|
Winter Activities in Voyageurs
Winter in Voyageurs takes things to the extreme with temperatures capable of reaching an eye-popping, or should we say tear-freezing, -55F. While winter is not necessarily our recommended season, with the proper winter gear and planning it can be a magical and totally new experience.
The giant lakes freeze over and become highways for snowmobiles and cross-country skiers. The vast blanket of white is dotted with ice houses enjoying a favorite local pastime – ice fishing.
With the proper planning a trip to Voyageurs National Park in the winter can be an other-worldly and exciting adventure. Popular Winter activities in Voyageurs include:
- Snowmobiling on one of the park’s numerous snowmobile trails
- Cross-country skiing through forests and across frozen lakes.
- Wildlife watching. Voyageurs is home to roughly 50 wolves and while your chances of seeing one are rare, they are much higher in winter when the wolves roam the frozen lakes freely from one island to the next in search of prey.
- Ice fishing on one of the park’s three main lakes.
- Snowshoeing through forested trails heavy with snow.
- Take in the majesty of the Northern Lights. On clear nights in the fall and winter visitors have a chance to be treated with some of the most spectacular displays of the aurora borealis found anywhere in the world.
Voyageurs Winter Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival and Park Orientation
Start your winter adventure at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center, which is the only one open year-round. Here, you’ll learn about the park’s history, its wildlife, and receive safety tips for winter activities. After your orientation, strap on some snowshoes or cross-country skis and explore the trails around Rainy Lake.
Day 2: Ice Fishing and Snowshoeing
Spend your second day ice fishing, a popular winter activity in the park. Rent equipment locally from any number of lodges or outfitters or bring your own to catch walleye, northern pike, and yellow perch. After a morning of fishing, take a snowshoe hike to the Ellsworth Rock Gardens, a beautiful winter wonderland and a remarkable rock sculpture garden.
Day 3: Snowmobiling Adventure
Take advantage of Voyageurs’ over 110 miles of groomed snowmobile trails and spend the day like a true local buzzing along the park’s beautiful trails. The Kab-Ash Trail offers beautiful views of the park and opportunities to see wildlife. Snowmobiles can be easily and affordably rented from local shops.
Day 4: Wildlife Viewing and Stargazing
Dedicate your final day to wildlife viewing. Common winter animals include deer, foxes, otters, and a variety of bird species. You might also get a chance to see some of the park’s resident wolves – a rare treat! As dusk settles, prepare for a stargazing experience like no other. Far away from city lights, Voyageurs provides an unspoiled view of the night sky with ample opportunities to see the northern lights. Wrap up in a warm blanket, sip some hot cocoa, and marvel at the beauty of the cosmos before ending your trip.
Note: Remember, any trip to Voyageurs National Park during the winter requires careful planning and awareness of safety precautions related to weather conditions. Always check the park’s website for the most up-to-date information before heading out.
Voyageurs in Winter FAQ
The Rainy Lake Visitor Center is the only facility open all year round. It provides restrooms, exhibits, a park film, and orientation services. Most other facilities, including the Kabetogama Lake, Ash River, and Crane Lake Visitor Centers, are closed during the winter.
There is a wide range of winter activities available at Voyageurs. These include snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling. You can also enjoy wildlife viewing and spectacular stargazing due to the park’s distance from city lights.
Yes, you do need a fishing license to fish in Minnesota, including on the lakes in Voyageurs National Park. You can purchase a license online from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources or from various retailers throughout the state.
Yes, Voyageurs National Park offers more than 110 miles of snowmobile trails, including the popular Kab-Ash Trail. Please ensure to stay within the marked trails to protect the park’s natural resources and for your safety.
Yes, Voyageurs National Park offers ice roads on Rainy Lake and Kabetogama Lake when conditions permit. Safety is the park’s priority, so these roads are only opened once the ice is thick enough to support vehicle traffic. Conditions can change rapidly, so it’s crucial to check with the Rainy Lake Visitor Center or the park’s website for the most current information before setting out. Always follow posted speed limits and safety instructions when driving on ice roads.
Location | Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota
Interested in what Voyageurs is like during other times of the year? Check out our Voyageurs National Park Seasons & Weather page to learn more about which season is best for your visit to the park.
Our personal favorite is Fall but Spring & Summer are nice as well… and then there’s Winter which is… well, the coldest place in the continental USA!
The Voyageurs Film
This film is the culmination of several weeks spent in the northernmost region of Minnesota known as Voyageurs National Park. Encompassing more than 340 square miles, Voyageurs is a watery wonderland almost exclusively accessible by boat.
Journey with us as we explore a land blanketed in pristine lakes, erupting with kaleidoscopic fall colors, and home to the most spectacular displays of the northern lights on the planet. This is Voyageurs. Filmed primarily in stunning UHD 8K.