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Exploring Namakan and Kabetogama Lake

May, 2018
5 day itinerary

Beautiful Weather, Calm Water, and Magnificent Scenery.

Duration: 5 days, 4 nights
Destination: Voyageurs National Park , MN
Miles Paddled: 40

Five days of glorious weather, gave us beautiful sunsets, and the ideal conditions to explore the sights of Namakan and Kabetogama lakes.

Staying on two islands gave us day paddling access to all our destinations, and allowed us to experince the best of both lakes.

The Ellsworth Rock Gardens have been known as the “Showplace of Lake Kabetogama” since the 1940s. Jack Ellsworth, the garden’s creator and a self-taught artist, used natural elements of the native northern Minnesota landscape as his artistic media, creating an original and distinctive art environment on the north shore of Kabetogama Lake.

Day 1

A mid morning launch from Ash River. A stop for lunch on the south shore of the Blind Indian Narrows. Before winding our way between the islands and along the south side of Namakan Island. We camped at N28 a lovely flat campsite with rocks leading to the water, great for  sunset watching.

Day 2

An early start saw us heading counter clockwise around Namakan island then heading northwards between islands as the channel gradually became narrower as we approached Kettle falls. A brief lunch at the intriguing hotel then we retraced our strokes south.

Day 3

We broke camp and headed west past Ash River and entered lake Kabetogama. We explored the north shore as we made our way to Cutover island our new home for the night. Warm temperatures and the long paddle led to long naps in the hammock. And a beautiful sunset to cap off the day.

Day 4

Combining a circumnavigation of our island with a side journey to visit the Ellsworth Rock Gardens. We all enjoyed a leisurely day providing plenty of opportunity to relax and bathe in the lake. An evening of card games, camaraderie and cooking capped off a wonderful day.

Day 5

The wind was against us all the way back to Ash River, and weather started coming in from the South west, bringing rain and the occasional rumble of thunder. We carefully hopped along the north shore of Kabetogama before landing back where we started. 

Trip Map

Trip Gallery

Recent Trips


Having spent many hours in and many dollars on tents, we have a good idea now of what makes a good camping shelter for us.

Pine Lake BWCA

Pine Lake BWCA

Unseasonably great weather allowed us to explore the length of the lake, discovering the magnificent Johnson Falls. Sitting out an electrical storm and surfing home on the backs of large wind driven waves, all led to a magical experience.

Revisiting Namakan Island

Revisiting Namakan Island

Island Hopping, Dodging the Weather, and Campfires. We returned to the comfort of Namakan Island in the Fall of 2020. Seeking respite from the ravages of the COVID-19 virus we base camped at site N28 on the southern shore.