Voyageurs National Park - Day 1
Trip Start Jul 07, 2012
44Trip End Ongoing
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I went to the Rainy Lake Visitor Center of Voyageurs National Park today for the Grand Tour boat trip.
Although the first proposal to designate the area as a national park occurred in 1891, Voyageurs National Park wasn't created until 1975 when the park was established "to preserve, for the inspiration and enjoyment of future generations, the outstanding scenery, geological conditions, and the waterway system which constituted part of the historic route of the voyageurs who contributed significantly to the opening of the northwestern United States." By this time the land had been hunted, logged and mined for gold and mica and the waterways had been dammed and many non-native species had been introduced. Much of the land had been purchased and there are still many inholdings, some of which have been built on.
The waterways of Voyageurs National Park include a portion of the 3,000-mile fur trade route established in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The driving force behind the fur trade was the demand for beaver hats. When beaver could no longer be found in Europe the demand shifted to North America. As the fur trade expanded westward, it relied on the voyageurs, or French-Canadian canoemen, to muscle trade goods and furs between Montreal and the Canadian northwest. The voyageurs depended on Native Americans for furs, guide services, clothing, food and medicine.
The lakes of Voyageurs National Park became a strategic relay and supply point along the fur trade route. The route of the voyageurs eventually shaped the international boundary and inspired the naming of this national park.
The Grand Tour boat trip takes about 2 1/2 hours. It visits an old gold mine where you get a chance to hike around one of the many islands and cruises around the islands. We spotted a number of Bald Eagles sitting in the trees.
After the boat trip I took the 1.7 mile Oberholtzer Trail and the 0.25 mile Ethno-botanical Trail, which I believe are the only trails accessible without a boat from the Rainly Lake Visitor Center. These trails go through some of the boreal forest that make up most of the land area of the park.