Minnesota’s Best Lake Adventure Touring Is On Crane Lake

Published On: July 15, 20207.1 min read
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Best Minnesota Lake Touring

An Amazing Chain of Lakes With Something For Everyone

Some lakes in Minnesota have nice amenities like on-site gas, bait, and bars/restaurants. Others are connected to a chain of lakes, offering a variety of fishing and sight-seeing options for the whole family. But no other lake area in the country has both of those options, along with a connection to a major national park accessible primarily by water, dozens of additional lakes with campsites and day-use areas, plus, a water-connection to 3,175 canoe-only wilderness via the thousands of square miles of Boundary Waters Canoe Area (BWCA) and Quetico Provincial Park. Water access is the super-highway of the Crane Lake area, and key to its interest level among so many varied groups of outdoors enthusiasts.

Voyageur’s Guide and Adventures – Emily Schwanke

Truly, the Crane Lake area gives you access to more diversity and fishing, while serving as a gateway to all kinds of activities. Being that this hub of experiences is primarily water-based, we reached out to Emily Schwanke of Voyageur’s Guide and Adventures for the ways she entertains clients, and also winds-down personally. Emily serves as an adventure guide for the area’s rich and mixed activities, with her husband Michael taking care of fishing-guide duties for the business.

Crane-Lake-Minnestoa-Boat-Rentals-Cabins“There’s just so much to do here,” says Emily. “We can take a few hours to cruise the lake by boat, swim, hike, and hang out at remote beaches. The next day I’ll lead a group into the boundary waters and enjoy the many area waterfalls.” Many of Emily’s customers enjoy a lake-cruise, and the experience can be customized to whatever interest or amount of time a person has to enjoy the Crane Lake area. “Make sure to check out the map first and foremost,” says Emily. “It’ll give you an idea of just how much water there is, sites to visit, and things to do.”

“We do a good number of trips to Kettle Falls Hotel, which is an area must-see just shy of an hour’s boat-ride away,” says Schwanke. The hotel is accessible only by boat or float-plane, and was built around the turn of the century by a timber baron as an outpost to enjoy the area hunting, fishing, and recreation, just like today. Now, the historic landmark is a trip back in time, but also a great place to enjoy a refreshment, spend time on the old front porch, or just take a chance to stretch your legs and walk the grounds. Emily mentions, “…there’s also some historical old resorts that were shut down when Voyageur’s National Park was created. They’ve been maintained and it’s a fun walk through history to check them out.”

Sightseeing, Picnic Lunches, and Day-Use Campsites On The Water

Crane Lake Shore Lunch

On the way to or from, boaters can enjoy the Grassy Bay Cliffs, a series of waterfalls throughout Voyageur’s National Park, and area pictographs. “To and from Kettle Falls Hotel, we’ll usually stop to enjoy some of these sights along the way,” says Schwanke, who enjoys sharing the area with groups large and small. “We’ll usually enjoy a picnic lunch at the hotel, or any of the areas many day-use campsites throughout Voyageur’s National Park’s dozens of connected lakes.”

Enjoying a meal outdoors is a great specialty of Emily’s, and food always seems to taste better enjoyed outside. “I’m used to cooking for groups in the BWCA, but we also do a good number of campfire meals on boat tours,” says Emily. “Most of the local resorts and businesses have basic supplies for frying fish and the like, so it’s easy to dock, grab what you need and go, even if you don’t have much planned for lunch or dinner.” Of course, if you hire Emily, she’ll do the cooking for you and take care of meal-planning for your outing. The same goes for a shorelunch if you spend time fishing with Emily’s husband Michael. “Cooking fish for a classic shorelunch is just part of the experience for so many of our guest,” says Emily.

Plenty Of Secluded Beaches To Enjoy

There’s a good number of beaches on remote stretches of connected lakes to visit too. Of course, these aren’t the same kinds of beaches you may be used to. “We’re used to pulling up to sites and having them to ourselves,” says Schwanke, “…I guess we’re a bit spoiled in that way. There’s also some great spots to cliff jump if you’re up for that kind of adventure. Sand Point and Namakan Narrows offer some good spots to try that, but it’s best to try this with someone who’s experienced and who has jumped here before,” says Schwanke.

Many Food and Drink Options Right On The Lake

If you’re an experienced boater, and looking to tackle some day-cruising on your own, no lake adventure would be complete without both starting and ending your day at the many dock-side businesses along Crane Lake. “Especially on hot days, everyone loves ice cream at Handberg’s – it’s a tradition,” says Schwanke. “It’s a great way to reward kids with a treat and they’ve got dock staff to help you land your boat head in.”

Emily also mentions, “We’re lucky to have some great restaurants on the lake too, whether you’re looking for a more upscale dining experience like at Nelson’s, a solid menu and great drinks at Voyagaire’s, or a fun atmosphere with a group of friends like at Crane Lake Bar and Grill – all of them offer a great experience with service. We’re really here to help people enjoy their time away from home,” says Schwanke. No matter your preference, it’s great to have so many options. Moreover, it’s nice to enjoy peace and solitude throughout the remote lakes, then come back to civilization for a nice meal, great drinks, and comfortable lodging.

Stargazing From The Pontoon – Night Sky Cruise

Stargazing At Crane LakeNo trip to Crane would be complete however, without a night sky cruise. “A pontoon cruise at night was a service we just started offering, and it was a no-brainer. It’s what everyone up here does to enjoy the area, so we thought we’d offer as a trip,” says Schwanke. Watch the sunset, bring your own cooler with drinks, and let an experienced driver navigate travel throughout the lake at night. “The night sky up here is just indescribable, with stars and the milky way so much more vivid out on the lake and far from the resorts,” says Schwanke. “The lakes do have some rock hazards and tricky spots, so it’s nice to be able to enjoy the scenery, let us do the navigating, and have a designated boat drivel with night travel experience on the lake worry about all that.”

Night or day, on a long boat cruise or a short day-trip, this is a boater’s paradise. If you enjoy travel by water to exclusive experiences and a wide variety of activities, there’s no other place like Crane Lake. Given your experience level, you can rent boats or pontoons at the many resorts listed below, enjoy taking your own craft up and down the many lakes, or hire an adventure guide like Emily to really customize the experience and get the most from your trip. Your pick, just make sure to check out the bulk of what the area has to offer.

Boat Rentals available at:


The Crane Lake Visitor & Tourism Bureau can assist you with ground, water, or air transportation, lodging reservations, group planning, meeting facilities, and any special consideration required to accommodate a unique condition or disability.

If you would like more information about the Crane Lake area or to access our Visitors Guide, please visit our Contact Page. Thank you for your interest in our beautiful area.

Crane Lake Visitor & Tourism Bureau
7511 Gold Coast Road
Crane Lake, MN 55725
800-362-7405 · 218-993-2901