Minnesota may be home to 10,000 Lakes, but did you know we're also the home of one of the least popular parks in America?

In addition to those 10,000 lakes (which the DNR says is actually closer to 11,482), Minnesota is also home to 75 state parks and recreation areas. The Bold North is also home to nearly 4,400 campsites that are visited by an average of just under 10 million people each year, according to the DNR. So yeah, Minnesota's parks are pretty popular, right?

However, that's not necessarily the case for Minnesota's National Parks. Or, should I say national PARK. That's according to the latest visitor numbers released by the National Park Service (NPS) that showed while some National Parks set attendance records again, that wasn't the case for the only National Park here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

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While several states out west have several National Parks within their borders (like, say, Montana, which is home to seven National Parks including Yellowstone, Glacier, and Bighorn Canyon) here in the North Star State we only have one: Voyageurs National Park. It's located waay up north, near Minnesota's northern border with Canada. (It's about 350 miles-- a little over 4 hours-- north of the Twin Cities.)

The NPS website describes Voyageurs National Park like this:

With 218,055 acres, Voyageurs National Park is an adventure wonderland all year long full of exposed rock ridges, cliffs, wetlands, forests, streams and lakes. This is a place of transition between land and aquatic ecosystems, between southern boreal and northern hardwood forests, and between wild and developed areas.

But here's the thing: Voyageurs National Park (NP) isn't very popular-- at least when you look at the number of visitors the park hosted in 2023. According to an NPS report, Voyageurs was ranked 53rd out of 63 National Parks here in the U.S. (Although many of us might think that fewer people tromping through the Minnesota wilderness is a good thing, right?)

That's actually up three spots from figures in 2022 and 2021. Voyageurs NP hosted 220.825 visitors last year, amounting to .24% of the total visitors to all national parks. Strangely, that's down from 243,042 visitors in 2021 and in 2020 when Voyageurs hosted 263,091 visitors and ranked 43rd overall.

However, a trip up to Voyageurs NP can be well worth it, especially if you like to stargaze. That's because Voyageurs NP has been named as an International Dark Sky Park, a distinction shared with only 122 other parks not just here in the U.S. but worldwide.

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Voyageurs NP may have moved up in the rankings but is still far behind the most popular national parks. For instance, the number-one ranked park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, hosted 13,297,647 visitors, good for 14.39% of all National Park visitors last year! Zion, Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Rocky Mountain National Parks rounded out the top five most-visited National Parks last year.

While Minnesota may only have one National Park, as we mentioned, our state DOES have some incredible state parks. Keep scrolling to check them out, as well as some helpful tips if you are planning to visit Voyageurs National Park later this year.

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14 Tips For Your First Boat Trip To Voyageur's National Park

Most Visited State Parks In Minnesota: Is Your Favorite in the List?

Minnesota has 75 beautiful state parks. The parks have an average of 9,700,000 visitors each year. Interestingly enough, nearly 19% of park visitors come from other states and countries, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources. Now, my favorite State Park is Jay Cooke in Carlton, MN, but it did not break into the top 5.

Gallery Credit: Shel B

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