Snapshot virtual tour
Welcome to the Garden Island State Park virtual tour! Enjoy a visit to the sandy shores of this unique island in Lake of the Woods. We hope it prompts you to visit the park in person sometime soon.
Picnic area and docks
Garden Island offers a sandy beach for swimming and five boat docks. It is a popular shore lunch destination for anglers fishing on Lake of the Woods. They can stretch their legs while walking along the water’s edge, then cook up a fresh catch of fish in the picnic area. Garden Island State Recreation Area is available for day use only and offers limited facilities: vault toilets, an emergency shelter, and picnic tables. Visitors should plan to pack-out their trash to keep this remote island’s 562 acres beautiful.
Remote and virtually undeveloped, Garden Island State Recreation Area is the northernmost unit of the Minnesota State Park system. Part of the island’s appeal is the challenge of getting there. As you leave the south shore of Lake of the Woods, the island is 21 miles away and not yet visible on the horizon. Once you arrive, the island’s long beaches will charm you. An interpretive panel along the shore shares unique information about the island and Lake of the Woods.
Emergency shelter view
Summer is not the only season that visitors can enjoy Garden Island. In winter, the island lies along the grant-in-aid snowmobile trail (about 35 miles from Baudette). The trail continues up to Oak Island and Angle Inlet. A ride across the open expanse of snow-covered ice will give the impression of crossing the Arctic tundra. A shelter provides a place to take a break and escape the winter wind. A snowmobile trail from Warroad to Angle Inlet also runs past the island’s western tip.
Historic fish hatchery
On the shore, visitors will see the remnants of an ice chipper from the 1890s. The chipped ice was used for packing freshly-caught fish. In the water, look for what remains of concrete footings that once supported a building from the historic Garden Island Fishery- one of the few reminders of the lake’s commercial fishing days.
Garden Island’s name came from the impressive Native American gardens that were active here until the early 1900s. This lovely view shows Big Traverse Bay on the southeast shore of Garden Island. The distant shoreline you see is the province of Ontario, Canada. This is one of the few places in the United States where you actually need to look south to see Canada!
Birdwatchers will delight in the pelicans, cormorants, gulls, and terns commonly seen on the island’s sandy shores. Sand spits like these are fairly rare, but very important to migrating shore birds. The lighter color line you see in the water is sediment from the eroding shoreline.
View of Lake of the Woods
Lake of the Woods continues to be a world-class fishery, best known for its excellent walleye fishing. Walleye can be found around Garden Island year-round. As you gaze to the north over Falcon Bay, you can see the beginning of the Northwest Angle (the northernmost point of the continental United States).
Trees near the shore
Garden Island’s sandy shoreline is bordered by thick vegetation.
The interior of Garden Island offers a variety of habitats ranging from open hardwoods to inland grassy marshes. A keen eye may spot a diversity of mammals living on the island, including: white-tailed deer, black bear, beaver, mink, river otter, fox, and snowshoe hare. During the winter months, grey wolves may also be seen on occasion. The interior is undeveloped with no hiking trail system. Please be aware that 36 acres of the island are privately owned.
This view of the northern shoreline of Garden Island displays a seemingly endless expanse of water. Lake of the Woods is an astonishing 950,400 acres in size, with over 14,000 islands and 65,000 miles of shoreline.