Voyageurs  lies at the southern end of the Canadian Shield, and across Minnesota ’s border lakes region much of this 2.7-billion-year-old bedrock—some of North America’s oldest exposed rock—lies bare along the park’s shorelines.
The last glacier to sweep south across North America scraped away large quantities of this Precambrian layer, gouging out the area’s many lakebeds. The thin layer of soil that has accumulated over the 10,000 years since the last glaciation naturally supports a transitional boreal forest, though, as a legacy of logging, aspen remains the dominant tree in the park’s relatively young forest.
Scattered marshes, swamps, and bogs (home to insectivorous pitcher plant and sundew) sit between the many hills and outcrop ridges. Summer sees a profusion of wild berries, with strawberries ripening in early July and blueberries filling out around the end of the month—most years you can pick some of both on the same trip.
Voyageurs is home to just about every animal species typical of the Northwoods. Spotting a beaver is almost guaranteed, while black bear and moose are most likely to be seen deep in the heart of the Kabetogama Peninsula. You’d have to be pretty lucky to happen upon a gray wolf, though around 35 roam these woods, so you might hear one howling at night.
Few of Voyageurs’ over 240 bird species are as beloved as the bald eagle, and the nation’s symbol is frequently spied perched in trees alongside or soaring over the park’s largest lakes. Out on the lakes you’ll likely see common loon, great blue heron, hooded merganser, common tern, belted kingfisher, a variety of ducks, and large flocks of ring-billed and herring gulls, while spruce grouse, pileated woodpecker, boreal chickadee, scarlet tanager, ruby-throated hummingbird, and around 25 species of warbler reside across the inland forests.
This is one of the best places in Minnesota to look for boreal forest birds.