Mist creeps reluctantly back up the banks, retreating from some dark blue satin stretch of water, chased by morning sunshine finally into the forested shadows of some solitary island in this lake-soaked region. Those who equate escape with a week of watery rest and recovery won't want to make too many detours en route to northern Minnesota's Voyageurs National Park, a landscape almost more liquid than land. Running right up to the Canadian border, this stretch of American soil and wet stuff is within easy reach of major cities like Duluth, a convenient get-away at the edge of Ontario.
Not surprisingly, this area is best explored, when the weather is fine and lakes ice-free, using some sort of watercraft. Motor boats are allowed here, a quick and noisy way to get around, and long stays on the water aboard a houseboat, well equipped with creature comforts, another popular option. Thought Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a quieter possibility for paddlers hoping to spot a bit of wildlife, canoers and kayakers are also welcomed in Voyageurs; equipment, canoes, and guides can be acquired at any of the four park entrances.
Organized tours are also available for guests interested in learning more about area history, from ancient pictographs to gold rush lore and rock gardens. When it's time to test land legs once more, consider hiking one of the trails meandering through the park, including a 24-mile route, the Kabetogama-Ash River Trail, linking two resorts in Voyageurs. Campsites are scattered throughout the park, whether visitors are seeking one starry night of campfire story-telling and northern lights gazing or seven. And lest your forget to pack the s'mores, don't despair this is a top fishing destination, and supper just a cast away.
Winter, cold in this neck of the woods, draws in a different crowd cross-country skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers. This sort of gear can also be acquired from local outfitters.
The park is about three hour's drive from Duluth, five from the Minneapolis-St Paul area. The closest airport is in International Falls, at the northwest edge of the park.