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Kabetogama, Minnesota: Ellsworth Rock Garden

What was Jack Ellsworth thinking? His elaborate but remote rock garden is on an island in a National Park.

Voyageurs National Park

Waltz Rd, Kabetogama, MN
US Hwy 53 to Voyageurs National Park. A boat trip is needed to get to the garden, which is on the Kabetogama Peninsula across from Cutover Island. The Park Service provides a list of local resorts with private water taxis to get there.
Accessible only in the summer. Local health policies may affect hours and access.
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Rock Garden.

Ellsworth Rock Garden

Even though the rock garden is located in Voyageur Park, the park service doesn't run boats out to the island. The park service can provide you with a list from an area advertising newspaper of local resorts that can bring you to the island for a fee. We paid $20 for everyone over 12 years old in our group.

Self-guided tour pamphlets are available on the island. There's also a small donation collection slot in the metal pole by the pamphlets. The park is largely being restored by local residents and volunteers. The lake is big and can be gusty, so plan to visit on a day when it is a safe to travel by boat to the island.

[Lisa, 09/02/2017]
Ellsworth Rock Garden

The Ellsworth Rock Gardens, built between 1944 and 1965, was created by one man -- retired Chicago building contractor Jack Ellsworth (1899-1974). Ellsworth claimed to have logged over 14,000 hours of labor on his gardens (quite probably with the help of his wife). In a rare interview he gave in 1960 to the International Falls Daily Journal, Ellsworth discussed the purpose of the project with understated humility: "We love this country and wish we could spend more time here, but I just had to have something to keep me busy." Taking his cue from the existing landscape and enhancing it with built features and plantings, Ellsworth created a cohesive composition of formal elements that segued seamlessly into natural ones.

A boat trip is required to get to the garden. The park service runs a tour, or you can hire a private water taxi.

[Brenda Bennett, 06/27/2005]

At its peak, when Jack Ellsworth was still alive, Ellsworth Rock Garden contained over 200 sculptures. About 80 have been restored.

Nearby Offbeat Places

Leapin' Walleye Fish Photo OpLeapin' Walleye Fish Photo Op, Kabetogama, MN - 7 mi.
Big Vic: Voyageur StatueBig Vic: Voyageur Statue, Ranier, MN - 19 mi.
Fisherman StatueFisherman Statue, International Falls, MN - 20 mi.
In the region:
Uncle Dan Campbell Statue, Big Falls, MN - 43 mi.

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