Minnesota has just one true National Park. But it's a gem.
Located in the far north of the state, up against the Canadian border, is Voyageurs National Park. At 218,055 acres and comprising multiple lakes (Including Rainy and Kabetogama), it is essentially true wilderness, a "transition," as the National Park Service explains, between land and water, wild and developed, southern boreal and northern hardwood.
The exposed rock is believed to be about half the age of the earth itself, a 2.5 billion-year-old relic from the formation of the land now known as North America. Outside of Voyageurs, these rocks can only be seen in Wyoming, Greenland and some parts of Canada. The park is also a prime viewing spot for the Northern Lights.
So of course, it is one of the least-visited National Parks in the country.
Voyageurs saw 263,091 visitors in 2020, the highest figure in the past five years for the park, according to federal figures. But it was still among the least popular of the country's 63 National Parks, coming in at 43rd overall.
In addition, some of the parks that came in lower on the list were severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, depressing their visitor numbers below normal levels. Carlsbad Caverns, for example, had about 183,000 visitors in 2020 — after many years in a row over 400,000 visitors.
From 2017-2019, Voyageurs was in the bottom 15 for visitor numbers.
On the bright side, that just means more room for those who will truly appreciate what Minnesota's natural wilderness has to offer.