What to expect when staying at the Kettle Falls Hotel in Voyageurs National Park including how to make reservations, getting to the island, room tour, and more!
Kettle Falls Hotel - Voyageurs National Park
We enjoyed an amazing stay at the Kettle Falls Hotel in Voyageurs National Park. This is the only National Park Lodge within the park.
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Reservations are made over the phone. We received a confirmation letter with our deposit receipt in the mail after we made our reservation.
From May through September call - 218-240-1724 or 218-240-1726
From October through April call - 218-875-2070
You can also email Kettlefalls@Frontiernet.net
Boat Pick Up
When we made our reservations for the Kettle Falls Hotel they said we would have an 11 am boat pick up from the Ash River Visitor Center. We honestly had no idea where we were supposed to meet someone or what to expect for the boat.
We stopped at the visitor center, and they pointed us to the boat launch and said to park anywhere there wasn’t a sign saying day parking only. After parking, we headed down the hill to the boat ramp to see if we could find the shuttle.
What we found was a small boat that held ten people and our luggage. I am going to tell you now to NOT overpack for a trip to Kettle Falls. All of the luggage was placed in the front area of the boat.
Also, make sure you keep a hand on your luggage especially if it is on wheels until it is in the boat. Our luggage almost rolled off the dock into the water.
Getting into the boat was interesting. It was a large step up into the boat and then there were 3 metal stairs down into it. We ended up having to sit on the side of the boat and swing our legs into the boat to get into it.
If you have any mobility restrictions I would talk with the hotel before scheduling your boat shuttle.
It was a 25-ish minute boat ride to the hotel. I am going to admit we spent the entire ride hoping our suitcase did not fall off the top of the luggage pile into the water. There were a few moments that we held our breath but thankfully the luggage made it safe and dry.
There is seating inside the boat on 2 benches and then seating at the back of the boat. We had 9 people on the boat heading to the hotel plus the driver.
Once we reached the hotel they picked us up with golf carts that had a bucket that was pulled for luggage. It was a quick drive up the road to reach the hotel for check in.
For our departure they asked that we have our bags downstairs around 9 am to depart at 10 am back to the Ash River Visitor Center. It was an epic ride back to the Ash River Visitor Center.
Hotel - Guest Room
When we checked in they were unable to find the key for our room. The prior guest had taken it with them by mistake. We were able to load our luggage in the room and head back downstairs to relax.
The room offers single and double beds. We had a room with two single/twin beds, a nightstand, dresser with mirror, and a fan. There are shared bathrooms just down the hall from the room.
The room had towels hanging from the nightstand to use in the bathroom. There was also small bottles of shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion available.
The rooms are located on the 2nd floor of the hotel up a semi steep staircase.
There are a couple of shared bathrooms with sinks, toilet, and bathtub/showers on the same floor.
There are 12 historic rooms at the Kettle Falls Hotel all furnished with antique furnishings.
The hotel does not have any televisions, minifridges, or air conditioning. We did have Wi-Fi while staying at the hotel.
Kettle Falls Restaurant
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner. The menu has a bit of everything including cheese curds, burgers, and dinner options.
We definitely suggest trying the blueberry pie and ice cream.
Make sure to order the cheese curds! They are amazing and so good.
Guests staying at the hotel can enjoy a continental breakfast in the morning.
Tiltin Hilton Slanted Bar
The Slanted Bar also known as the Lumberjack Saloon is the place to be in Kettle Falls. It is popular with both hotel guests and day use visitors.
They are famous for their pink slushy vodka drinks. They have a full bar and lots of beer options to enjoy.
There is an epic covered porch that has rattan chairs lining it. This is the perfect place to enjoy a cold drink and talk with your new friends. We ended up meeting quite a few people while sitting on the covered porch.
It was truly amazing how friendly everyone was and how happy they were to talk about the area.
The Slanted Bar has pizza and pretzels available along with snacks.
Things to know when planning a visit
Getting to the hotel - There are no roads to the hotel. The only way to reach the hotel is via boat or float plane.
GPS Coordinates for the hotel - GPS: 48.30.11 N, 92.38.23 W
Deposit Policy -
Villa Rental: Reservation of Villa Units - 3 night minimum stay - 30% deposit refundable less a 15% handling fee ONLY if the cancelled reservation dates are filled by another party.
Hotel Rental: 30% deposit refundable less a 15% handling fee if a reservation is cancelled 30 days before the arrival date. If a cancellation occurs within 30 days and the cancelled reservation dates are filled, a 30% deposit less a handling fee will be refunded.
Mailing address - 10518 Gamma Road, Kabetogama MN 56669
(mailing address only, Kettle Falls is out on the lake!)
Boat Rentals - Boat rentals are available including a 25 hp motor boat, 70 hp electric troll, canoe, and kayaks.
Kettle Falls Hotel History
Within the Voyageurs National Park, you will find the historic, red-roofed Kettle Falls Hotel which is only accessible by boat. The Kettle Falls Hotel was the first seasonal accommodation in the wilderness of the Boundary Waters.
The Kettle Falls Hotel was opened in 1913, during the same time that construction began on the Kettle Falls dam. The Kettle Falls Hotel is still in operation and is the only lodging offered in the Voyageurs National Park.
Tourism in the Boundary Waters
Although people had been visiting the Boundary Waters since the 1800s, tourism was not a sector that flourished in the region. In the 1800s the area was visited mainly by hunters and fishermen. Any tourists that did visit the region to fish, or explore the wilderness, did so in the summer months.
The area was found to be too remote and the terrain difficult to manage for all but the most adventurous tourists. In 1880 tourism picked up in the Rainy Lake area, as several summer homes were built by wealthy families and business men.
People traveled through the area that is now the Voyageurs National Park via the use of canoe portages, waterways, and tote roads that had been built by the loggers who worked in the area. As time went on, more and more tourists braved the wilderness.
Kettle Falls is located deep in the Boundary Waters on the Minnesota-Canada border. Kettle Falls connects Namakan Lake with Rainy Lake.
Before Kettle Falls became a tourist destination in the early 1900s, the area was used by Native communities in the region for hunting and gathering. Members of the Native Nations tribes speared the sturgeon at the falls.
The French Canadian Fur traders known as Voyagers used the portage between the two lakes in the 18th Century. The portage between Kettle Falls and Rainy Lake was named the portage de Chaudière by the fur trading Voyagers.
The portage became one of the main routes used by miners seeking gold in the Rainy Lakes region during the 1890 gold rush. The area was also used by commercial fishermen and later, loggers.
In 1910, construction began on the Kettle Falls dam bringing workmen to the area who needed accommodation. During this period, the portage started being used to smuggle liquor across the American-Canadian border.
The Kettle Falls Hotel
Although wealthy families from far-flung cities were building private homes and resorts in the Rainy Lakes area, Kettle Falls remained undeveloped. Kettle Falls is situated deep within the Boundary Waters, far more secluded and remote than Rainy Lakes.
Initially, the land on which the Kettle Falls Hotel currently stands was patented to be a homestead. Instead, the land ended up under the ownership of a surgeon from Minneapolis. The surgeon sold the land to timber baron William E. ‘Big Ed’ Rose.
It was Ed Rose who started building the hotel in 1910. Kettle Falls Hotel was rumored to have been financed by Madame Nellie Bly, indicating scandalous beginnings. The first patrons of the Kettle Falls Hotel were loggers, commercial fishermen, trappers, traders, and rum runners.
The Kettle Falls Hotel and the Williams Family
In 1918 Ed Rose sold the Kettle Falls Hotel to Robert Williams for $1,000 and four barrels of whiskey. During prohibition, Williams used the Kettle Falls Hotel to smuggle whiskey into the United States illegally. Williams operated an illegal still and had frequent run-ins with law enforcement.
Williams was charged with selling illegal whiskey at the Kettle Falls Hotel and another Hotel he owned in Rainer.
Despite the issues surrounding the sale of illegal liquor, the Kettle Falls Hotel earned a reputation for serving great home-cooked meals and exceptional hospitality from the Williams family. The Kettle Falls Hotel became popular with recreational fishermen and families when the logging and commercial fishing industry declined in the area.
The Williams family evolved with the times, and In 1935, the Kettle Falls Hotel was equipped with electricity. The hotel was advertised as a ‘Hayfever Victims Sanctuary’ in the 1930s, due to the purity of the air. The hotel was expanded in 1946 with an addition known as the ‘big house.’
Robert Williams died in 1956, but the Kettle Falls Hotel remained in the Williams family. Robert's wife, Lil, together with her stepson Charlie and his wife Blanche, continued to operate the hotel. Lil passed away in 1961, but the Kettle Falls Hotel remained open and operational.
In 1976 the National Parks Service bought the hotel from the Williams family. The hotel was renovated in the late 1980s and remains a popular tourist destination for families and recreational fishermen.
Additional National Park Resources
Voyageurs NP Trip Report - Check out our entire trip to the park.
Little American Island Boat Tour - Guided National Park Boat tour of a historical gold mining island in Voyageurs NP.
Voyageurs NP Camping Guide - Coming Soon
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