What’s not to love about a bright February day when sunshine bounces off the snow so bright you can feel it and a breeze swirls snow silently in the pine boughs. The days are getting longer, the average temps are rising and hundreds of miles of snowmobile trails and cross country ski trails are groomed and ready to go.
You should contact a local bait shop or lakeside resort to ask about ice conditions and check ice thickness once you arrive at your destination, but after the Polar Vortex hung around so many days and nights in December and January, there’s plenty of lake ice. So enjoy a day fishing on a quiet, frozen lake.
Whether you ride, ski, fish or go for a quiet walk, you could see bald eagles cleaning up after anglers, trumpeter swans flying gracefully overhead or other winged winter birds.
The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updates snow and trail conditions in weekly reports updated after 2 p.m. every Thursday at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/index.html. And our Chamber Website provides information about trail riding and cross country skiing possibilities as well as available lodging, dining and other things to see and do while you’re here.
With Valentine’s Day on February’s calendar, a winter getaway “up north” may be the way to win your Valentine’s heart for the first time or all over again.
If you time your stay, you can sample one of the following fun winter events:
It’s not too late to head north for the 16th Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Contest on Fish Hook Lake from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, February 1. The contest offers more than $110,000 in prizes. Grand prizes in this year’s raffle are a 2014 F-150 Ford truck and an Ice Castle fish house. Other raffle prizes, including $500 cash prizes, will be awarded. Polaris ATVs top the list of prizes in the bluegill & crappie division, northern, walleye & largemouth bass division, perch division and rock bass division. A new white fish division has been added this year with cash prizes to be awarded through fifth place. Other weekend activities include a welcome dance Friday night, breakfast and lunch Saturday at the Legion, awards presentation, Fisherman’s Ball Saturday night and Sunday morning breakfast. Tickets for the fishing contest at $40 each are available at the American Legion or call 218-732-3360. For more information, go to www.parkrapidsamericanlegion.com.
Enjoy Itascatur’s beautiful Soaring Eagle ski trails at open houses and have a cup of hot chocolate in the warming house. Bring your own skis or check-out the new ski equipment. Itascatur will have volunteers to help you get started and answer your questions about the trails. Sunday open houses are from 1 to 4 p.m. and are planned Sundays, February 2 and February 16. The ski center consists of 10km of marked and groomed trails through balsam pines and spruce. All trails are groomed classical and skate, and are designed for beginner to expert skiers. Soaring Eagle Cross Country Ski Trails are located 8 miles north of Park Rapids on Hwy. 71, across from Eagle View Golf Course. Look for the sign on the west side of the highway. A MN Ski Pass is required for all skiers age 16 and over.
Discover the good old days of harvesting lake ice at Itasca State Park. Dress warmly as you come out on Lake Itasca between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. to see ice harvesters use tools of the ice cutting trade. Watch them create an opening in the ice with a single handled handsaw, then wait as they bounce the ice blocks out of the water onto the slippery edge. Parking is available at the Lake Itasca boat landing. Members of the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers will be on hand to demonstrate these early logging methods.
Arts Downtown PR (3rd Thursdays) continue in downtown Park Rapids. The Park Rapids Lakes Area Council sponsors musicians, writers and other artists the third Thursday of the month. The evening events are free and open to the public. The program is posted at www.prlaac.org.
Race through the forests and lakes and experience the natural beauty of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Saturday and Sunday, February 22 & 23. Saturday’s race will be a one-lap, 100-mile woods race. Sunday’s race will be a 25-mile ditch and lake course. Races start at 9 a.m. both days on Highway 34 at the east edge of Park Rapids. There are 21 classes of racing from junior to pro, open and vintage. Racers must be pre-registered online at usxcracing.com by 8 p.m. Thursday, February 20 or onsite at the Eagles Club between 5 and 7 p.m. Friday, February 21.