Trips

Voyageurs Ellsworth Rock Gardens

The main attraction of Voyageurs National Park in Northern Minnesota is the lakes. Water covers 40% of this national park. Of course, there is lots of fun to be had on the lakes of Voyageurs. But, don’t miss out on some of the park’s land based activities such as the Ellsworth Rock Gardens.

Ellsworth Rock Gardens Flower Beds

The Ellsworth Rock Gardens is located on the shores of Lake Kabetogama.

To truly appreciate the Ellsworth Rock Gardens, you have to know the back story. Jack Ellsworth was a carpenter from Chicago. He owned a vacation in what would become Voyageurs National Park in 1975. For two decades, from the mid 1940’s to the mid 1960’s, Jack Ellsworth lovingly created his masterpiece.

Ellsworth Rock Garden Sign

The Ellsworth Rock Gardens include 62 terraced flower beds. And, the garden included over 13,000 flowers! Now that’s a lot of yard work!

Ellsworth Rock Gardens Sculptures and Flowerbeds

Ellsworth had no formal training as an artist. Yet, he created over 200 rock sculptures which are scattered throughout the garden.

Ellsworth Rock Garden Rock Sculpture
Ellsworth Rock Garden Whale Sculpture

Touring Ellsworth Rock Garden

The only way to access the Ellsworth Rock Gardens is by boat. It is frequented by tour boat operators. Alternatively, if you have a boat, there is a dock available.

Ellsworth Rock Gardens Dock and Sign

The national park service offers an Ellsworth Rock Gardens self-guided tour pamphlet. These are available at the visitor centers or on site.

The tour includes 15 stops. For each stop, there is a short explanation highlighting notable aspects of that stop.

Ellsworth Rock Garden Stop 11 Small Footbridge

Exploring Ellsworth Rock Gardens is fun and easy. Visitors wishing to follow the route listed in the pamphlet will have to climb a few stairs as the tour meanders through the various terraces. An hour is plenty of time to explore this site. And, there are toilet facilities and picnic tables available.

Ellsworth Rock Gardens Sculpture

Ellsworth Rock Gardens is an unexpected surprise in middle of Voyageurs National Park. It is easy to see why Mr. Ellsworth loved spending time here. But, what’s remarkable is that one man was able to create such a masterpiece!

Ellsworth Rock Garden Blue and Orange Flowers

We rented a boat and explored Voyageurs National Park on our own. If you are doing this as well, I recommend using a paper map as cell signal isn’t always available. Check out this affiliate link to this National Geographic map we used.

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