Lake Kabetogama in the heart of Voyageurs National Park

Lake Kabetogama is a glacier carved 26-mile long lake that offers an abundance of structure for fishing walleye with hundreds of beautiful islands. Come fish & explore over 65 miles of interconnected wilderness waterways of Voyageurs National Park.

Best Seen by Boat

Lake Kabetogama is a big lake with 25,000 acres of pristine, clean and cool water. It is best seen by boat! If you like the Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA), you will love Voyageurs National Park. In fact, the BWCA waterways are inter-connected with our Voyageurs National Park chain of lakes. Boat, hike, explore, sight see, view wildlife and fish our border water wilderness area, it’s invigorating!


An Extensive Chain of Lakes

Kabetogama is one of 4 major chain-of-lakes within Voyageurs National Park. It’s the largest with all American waters, but we can boat right into Canada. With crystal clear fresh water and over 100 miles of forested shoreline on Lake Kabetogama alone, with less than 10 miles of it developed on the south shore only.

The Shoreline Varies by Area

Our lakes are part of the beautiful Canadian Shield with prominent glacial carved rock bluffs that dot the forested shoreline. Beautiful islands and coves with many naturally occurring sandy beaches. For Northern Lights Resort guests, we offer a private sandy beach for on-site recreation with canoes and kayaks free of charge to enjoy your lake vacation!

The north shore is skirted by the Kabetogama Peninsula and is accessible only by boat.

You also won’t want to miss the top picnic spot:  Ellsworth Rock Sculpture Gardens. Two of the top hiking trails within Voyageurs National park are located on the peninsula. For more on area activities, see our map section below or view our Voyageurs National Park Attractions page (web link).

To the east, Lake Kabetogama connects into Namakan Lake

Namakan Lake is a gateway to the Ash River, Crane Lake to the south and Rainy Lake to the North. Rainy Lake is best accessed with a land portage at Kettle Falls. For a small fee, your boat is put on a trailer and shuttled a short distance to Rainy Lake.


Rare Wilderness Waterways & North Woods Beauty

This is not your average residential lake. In Minnesota, the land of “Ten Thousand Lakes”, Lake Kabetogama is a hidden gem waiting for you to discover it.

Located along the U.S. – Canadian border, Kabetogama Lake boasts extensive undeveloped shoreline. The businesses and private homes stretch across 8 miles of the south shore only. Northern Lights Resort is centrally located on lake Kabetogama providing you with easy access to fishing either end of the lake. We are just 3 miles to the Voyageurs National Park Visitor Center by boat or car.

Lake Kabetogama is well known as a top Minnesota fishing vacation area, come catch:

Champion Walleyes, Northern Pike, Small Mouth Bass, Jumbo Perch and Crappie. We’ve see walleye and pike longer than your arm & those big game fish are such fun to catch.

Our avid anglers from Indiana & Illinois boast they have caught the largest Small mouth bass they’ve ever seen right here on Lake Kabetogama!

Getting Around Lake Kabetogama and Voyageurs National Park

You have several options to see the lake:

  • View the lake from hiking trails — The #1 viewing spot over Lake Kabetogama is the overlook just prior to the Ash River Visitor center. It is a short, handicap accessible trail.  It’s on the east end looking back west over the lake for great sunset opportunities. You also have the opportunity to take a spur to see a beaver dam area.
  • Take a boat tour scheduled through Voyageurs National Park visitor center.
  • Hire a Water Taxi
  • Launch your own boat at a public ramp


Where do I launch my own boat?

Our resort has a boat ramp on-site for our guests. There are also three main public boat ramps for access to Lake Kabetogama.

  • Woodenfrog State Campground – closest to our resort
  • Lake Kabetogama Visitor Center
  • Ash River Trail Visitor Center

Map-Kabetogama-boat-public-boat-launches-topoBoat Launch Map

Maps of Lake Kabetogama

In the day and age of smart phones and mobile maps, it’s still wise to print a few maps to have available to plan your trip and have handy while you are travelling. Depending on your carrier, our cell phone service can be spotty. Here are a few of our favorite maps for your quick reference.

Recreation Attractions

Picnic spots for a shore lunch with tables and toilets. Many of these free “day use” sites have docks to tie your boat up too! Scroll beneath the map to see the sites with docks.

Official Voyageurs National Park Map 

In addition to Lake Kabetogama includes all the major lakes and visitor centers. You will see that Kabetogama is centrally located and an ideal location from which to explore all of Voyageurs National Park.

Trails Map
Trails Map

Fishing Map with Lake Kabetogama contour and depth

MN DNR Lake Overview

Navigating Lake Kabetogama

Lake Kabetogama is not your average Minnesota residential lake and with over 200 islands, it’s helpful to understand the buoy system for safe & worry free navigation!

Due to the park’s unique geology, there are submerged rocks that present potential hazards to boaters. Please review the park’s guide to lake navigation before setting out.

Lake Kabetogama and the major lakes in Voyageurs National Park have clearly marked “channels” with buoys for safe boating. The system is based on the flow of the water in a river. In our lake region, the water “flows north” into Canada through Rainy Lake and ultimately the Hudson Bay.

All-green and all-red companion buoys indicate the boating channel is between them. The red buoy is on the right side of the channel when facing upstream.


The safe boating channel is between All-green and All-red companion buoys.

  • The key is to have the RED BUOY on the RIGHT SIDE of the channel when facing upstream or RETURNING to the source of the water.
  • Major rock hazards are also marked with white buoys. Please note: a green or red navigational buoy are often strategically located near to rock hazards, so it is critical you are on the correct side of the buoy for issue free boating.
  • Click here for a pictorial navigational guide for Lake Kabetogama and all of Voyageurs National Park.

Remember The 3 R’s: Red, Right, Return: The Red buoy is on your Right-hand side when Returning to the source of the water!

Minnesota Safe Boating Guidelines

Boats of all types are welcomed in Voyageurs National Park and on Lake Kabetogama. It’s truly a boater’s paradise.

  • There are no restrictions on motor size or speed limit.
  • Please note: Jet-skis and similar watercraft are prohibited in the park.
  • The State of Minnesota DNR has created a nice boating guide, check it out here:

Life Jackets are like Motor Cycle helmets: Some people think they are optional, while others wouldn’t risk not wearing them.

  • Adults must have a lift jacket in the boat and it’s their choice whether to wear it in MN while boating.
  • Minnesota requires children under age ten to wear a life jacket while boating in Minnesota.
  • Here at Northern Lights Resort & Outfitting life jackets are provided with all of the boats rented at our resort. We have life jackets for people of all ages: adult, youth and baby.

Help Keep our Waters & Forest Free of Invasive Species

Firewood – Please do not bring firewood into the park unless it has been purchased from a MN DNR approved vendor.  Emerald ash borer has devastated ash trees in Michigan and is spreading westward. Northern Lights Resort sells approved firewood bundles for your convienence.

If you are bringing your own boat to our lake, please be sure to:

  • Remove all vegetation and clean your boat before moving it from one body of water to another.
  • Pull your plug & drain the water from your boat. It helps keep our waters safe and it’s also the law. Avoid a ticket if you are pulled over by the police. Also, drain water from live wells, bilge, bait buckets etc.
  • Prevent the spread of spiny water fleas. These are a species of zooplankton from Eurasia that threaten the park’s aquatic ecosystems by competing with native fish for food. Spiny water fleas and their eggs can be spread by bait buckets, anchor ropes, fishing line, boats, waders, nets and any other gear that has come in contact with infested waters. Because the park’s main lakes are infested, the park would like your help to prevent them from spreading into the interior lakes on the Kabetogama Peninsula. Leave your own boat behind and use National Park Service boats to explore the interior lakes. Boats are reserved through the National Park Visitor Centers.
  • Eurasian watermilfoil is an invasive aquatic plant. It interferes with boating, fishing and swimming and crowds out native plants. Even tiny fragments of this plant can grow into a new plant. Remove all vegetation and clean your boat before moving it from one body of water to another.
  • Rusty crayfish are more aggressive than native crayfish and can disrupt aquatic habitat. Never release any pet or aquarium species of crayfish. Using live crayfish for bait is prohibited. At Northern Lights Resort, we have for sale live bait that catches the BIG FISH and also safe for our waters.

Thank you for proactively helping to prevent the spread of invasive species in our beautiful National Park! If you are interested in learning more about the Minnesota DNR’s efforts, find more information here.