Voyageurs National Park is a watery jewel of the park system, a north woods landscape dotted with more than 500 islands on lakes called Rainy, Namakan, and Kabetogama, just to name three. It's a landscape associated with fur trappers and the "First People" who came here roughly 10,000 years ago.
And, surprisingly, it has something of an identity problem.
"I don’t think we’re ever going to be as big as Yosemite, Yellowstone, or Great Smoky Mountains, (but) people in Minnesota don’t even know about Voyageurs National Park," says Deb Wieber, owner of the Ash Trail Lodge on the Ash River who chairs the Destination Voyageurs National Park organization.
“People know about BWCA (Boundary Waters Canoe Area), so we get confused a lot with BWCA. This organization is trying to differentiate itself from BWCA," she said Thursday during a phone call.
During the Heart of the Continent Partnership's International Community Congress held late in October, the DVNP organization charted a course to develop a marketing plan by December 2012. Within that plan the group hopes to develop a communications plan for outreach, and hone strategies that enhance existing marketing efforts being made by the park's six gateway communities.
“It’s a collaborative effort among all the communities. There are six gateway communities to the national park, and each gateway community has its own tourism association," Ms. Wieber said. "There’s no one looking at the big picture of the park. Everyone’s promoting their own piece of the pie."
Among the first steps of raising the recognition of Voyageurs National Park is the organization's website, where you'll find some basic visitor information, a page that links you to events and activities in the gateway communities, maps of the park, an FAQ page on the park, and a page that lays out the organization and its mission.
As with any volunteer organization with little funding, it'll take Destination Voyageurs National Park some time to get fully up and running, but it has a great story to tell.