Where Beauty & Nature intersect

January 2015 – Resolve to celebrate winter

The new year begins as a disappointment to snowmobilers and cross-country skiers, but there’s snow in the forecast. Fingers crossed.The ice on area lakes is thick after a string of overnight temperatures well below zero. Some ice houses have been out for weeks. Bait shop owners can tell you where the best spots are to snag a fresh catch.

Once the white stuff arrives, snowmobilers will find hundreds of miles of groomed trails through scenic forests and networked between destinations where there are places to pause for a meal and warm up. Cross-country skiers also can look forward to hit the trails at Soaring Eagle north of Park Rapids, in Itasca State Park and through the Shingobee Recreation Area between Akeley and Walker.The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updates snow and trail conditions in weekly reports posted after 2 p.m. every Thursday at www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/index.html.

Our winter lodging facilities are open no matter what Mother Nature brings. Warm up by the fire or in the pool, hot tub or sauna and enjoy the area’s fine dining, fun shops and more to do.

If you time your stay, you can sample one of the following fun winter activities:

Lantern lit skiing/snowshoeing events and naturalist programs are on the winter calendar at Itasca State Park. For details about winter activities in the park, call 218-699-7251 or go to www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/itasca/calendar.html.

Menahga’s Family Fishing Day on Spirit Lake offers an afternoon of fishing fun Saturday, Jan. 17. There are games and attendance prizes, too. A $5 ticket will win a lucky angler a fish house provided by Smokey Hills Outdoor Store.

Register for the Heartland 106 Snowmobile Race (USXC Snowmobile Racing) or plan to watch this exciting event. Racers will sweep through forests and lakes and experience the natural beauty of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Saturday, Jan. 31 and Sunday, Feb. 1. Saturday’s race will be a 25-mile ditch and lake course. Sunday’s race will be a one-lap,100-mile woods race. 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, Jan. 29 or onsite at the North Ambulance Garage, just east of the Super 8 in Park Rapids between 5 and 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 30. This is a spectator sport; see the fastest show on snow.

Tickets are on sale for the 17th Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Contest on Fish Hook Lake from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7. The contest offers more than $110,000 in prizes. Grand prizes in this year’s raffle are a 2015 Chevy Silverado 1500 pickup truck truck and an Ice Castle fish house. Other raffle prizes, including $1,000 cash prizes, will be awarded. Polaris ATVs top the list of prizes in four of the five fishing contest divisions: bluegill & crappie; northern, walleye & largemouth bass; perch; rock bass and white fish. The awards presentation starts at 5 p.m. at the American Legion. In conjunction with the fishing contest, the American Legion also sponsors a Friday night welcome dance and Saturday night Fisherman’s Ball. 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.

The 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. If you’ve resolved to celebrate winter and need help planning a memorable and affordable visit or if you have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more.

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