There are several hiking trails in the Ash River Area. I took three of them: The Blind Ash Bay Trail (my favorite in the whole park); Beaver Pond Trail; and I hiked a part of the Kab Ash Trail. I will go into more detail of each of these trails on Sports Tips.
Start your tour of the Ash River Area at the Ash River Visitors Center, which is in the historic Meadwood Lodge which was built in 1935. Here you can get permission to explore the waterways and islands, pick up information, brochures and maps, watch a video, and talk to the rangers to maximize your enjoyment of the park. There are beautiful views from just outside the visitors center. You can also book a cruise to different parts of the park here.
Some sculptures are of animals. Some of these defy description, and some have been debated. This one has been identified as a few different animals; but to me it looks just like a cat. What do you think?
The only boat tour I took was one to the Ellsworth Rock Gardens. This was the vacation home of Chicago contractor Jack Ellsworth and his wife. He constructed the garden consisting of over 150 rock sculptures and 52 flower beds between 1944 and 1965. Ellsworth did all of this using no power tools of any kind. This is a very unique place.
One thing I always enjoy is meeting the locals. There were a number of nice rangers working at Kabetogama Lake. Ranger Ethan and Ranger Jessica are a married couple, both with the National Park Service, and were friendly, knowledgeable, and fun to talk to. There was another Ranger Jessica (she led the tour of the Ellsworth Rock Garden) but she did not want her picture posted here. Captain Al was also a lot of fun, and captained the boat to the island where the rock garden is located.
Start your tour of the Kabetogama Lake Area at the Kabetogama Lake Visitors Center. Here you can get permission to explore the waterways and islands, pick up information, brochures and maps, watch a video, and talk to the rangers to maximize your enjoyment of the park. There are beautiful views of Kabetogama Lake from the visitors center. You can also book a cruise to different parts of the park here. I took the tour to the Ellsworth Rock Garden.
There are a few different hiking trails available at, or near, the Rainy Lake Visitors Center. I took the Oberholtzer Trail and a portion of the Tilson Creek Ski Trail. I will discuss these trails in more detail under Sports Tips.
Start your tour of the Rainy Lake Area at the Rainy Lake Visitors Center. Here you can get permission to explore the waterways and islands, pick up information, brochures and maps, watch a video, and talk to the rangers to maximize your enjoyment of the park. There are beautiful views of Rainy Lake and Black Bay from the visitors center. You can also book a cruise to different parts of the park here.
The Kab (as it's locally called) Visitor Center has a marina and is open from late May through the middle of September. Here, you'll learn about Beaver and the smaller critters of the boreal forest. From the porch, you overlook Kabetogama Lake. Here, along the lake shore is the park boundary. Standing on shore, your outside the park. Put a foot in the water and you're in the park. All the private homes and resorts along the lake are on private land, with their docks extending into the park. Strange bit of geography.
Rainy Lake Visitor Center is open all year. It overlooks Black Bay, off of Rainy Lake. There is a marina in the park and several private marinas nearby. It's also provides winter access for snow machines on the winter lake. The visitor center tells about the geology and wildlife of the area. It's a great way to learn about the larger mamals (moose, wolf, etc.). There's a porch, where you can watch the water,
There are a number of different types of flowers located in the park. When the Lady Slipper flowers reach their peak blooming, there is even a festival for them.
There is a picnic table near the trailhead for the Beaver Pond Trail, should you decide to bring your own food and wish to eat and enjoy the scenery.
There a couple of interesting displays about the area, its history and the wildlife inside the visitors center.
There is a small picnic area near the workshop, if you brought lunch. Make sure you pack out whatever you brought in.
The teepees were one of the last features added to the rock gardens. It was decorated with brightly colored Indian designs and lit from inside. It had been damaged by a storm when I visited.