Ellsworth Gardens & Pontoon Boat Tour on Kabetogama Lake - Voyageurs National Park - Minnesota
It was a beautiful day on the lake as we visited a garden of rock sculptures, enjoyed the scenery, and spotted eagles and loons.
This morning we packed up for an all-day boat trip in Voyageurs National Park.
We met our friends, Therese & Ed, at The Pines of Kabetogama, and I got the key to their wonderful, almost brand new pontoon boat.
Fortunately, today was gorgeous and the boat was available. As I mentioned the other day, Voyageurs is definitely a boating park. We loaded up and headed out.
Navigating around all the islands in the lake can be tricky, ....
and we have to keep our eyes out for rocks. Most of the dangerous rocks are marked with white buoys, but not all of them.
Our first stop was five miles away. Ellsworth Rock Gardens is one of the few points of interest on the lake that stands out.
From the park website:
An unexpected site greets visitors on the north shore of Kabetogama Lake. Between 1944 and 1965, Chicago building contractor Jack Ellsworth created a personal grotto as an expression of his attachment for the lake country. Floral remnants, rock statuary and creative use of natural rock features still provoke feelings of wonder for visitors to the gardens.
We pulled up to the dock, but there was no room. We anchored just off the dock and waited for a spot to open up. Soon, several boats left and we got tied up.
We walked up the steps and got our first glimpse of the gardens behind the signs and brochure repository. The brochures take you on a walking tour through the rock gardens.
The lower terraces were filled with lilies, .....
while most of the rest of the flower gardens were empty.
But the gardens and rock sculptures were pretty cool. I won't bore you with all of the photos, but here's a good sampling.
The rock gardens were certainly a lot more visually interesting than Kettle Falls where we went a couple days ago.
Oh, and I can't forget my adorable little squirrel buddy.
From the rock gardens, we explored various coves and saw several eagles including this juvenile.
We made a lunch stop in a cove where we saw another eagle, a loon, and got a very quick glimpse of an otter.
From there, we moved on into Lost Bay and went to the end where we were dropped off for the backpacking trip we did a few weeks ago. It's a very pretty area.
As we were leaving Lost Bay, we came upon a loon.
He was making his haunting calls, and then we spotted his mate ..... with two babies.
They weren't recent hatchlings but they were still fuzzy. And we had never seen baby loons before. If that wasn't enough, we watched as the adults would dive, come up with a small fish, and swim over to feed each baby.
What a treat.
Moving on, we went into an area called Long Slough where there were no other boats. It was calm, and we anchored in there for quite awhile.
Long Slough is the route paddlers take from the Ash River Visitor Center to get to Lost Bay and some of the trailheads. There is a portage that starts from Lost Lake. We left Long Slough, went around several islands, and puttered into Lost Lake where we saw another eagle.
Finally, we went into the mouth of Blind Ash Bay.
There we had more loon encounters.
There was another male calling, and we determined it was trying to draw us away from its mate and a single baby.
Here's a little video. It's a bit bouncy, but the main thing is to hear the calls.
The loons were in fine vocal form today, and we never get tired of hearing them.
Another eagle flew over as we prepared to head back to the resort.
So, we spent about seven hours out on the water and had a wonderful day.
We had a great time and there's nothing like being out on the water on a beautiful day.
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