Where Beauty & Nature intersect

January 2017 – Don’t hibernate; recreate

crowd-on-the-ice-1 on-the-ice-1As a new year begins, we’re experiencing a “real” winter. Cold, yes, but that makes ice thicken and we have a good eight inches of snow with more on the way.

Some ice houses are out, but caution is still in order. It’s always good to check with bait shop owners or neighbors to find out where the ice is safe and the best spots to snag a fresh catch.

There’s enough snow for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling. Snowmobilers 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 hitting 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.

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. The next snowshoe hike is scheduled Saturday, Jan. 7 and a snowshoe and ski event Saturday, Feb. 4. 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. Every Sunday in January and February, the Itascatur Outdoor Activity Club will host an Open House at Soaring Eagle Ski Trails from 1 to 4 p.m. The club has ski equipment to introduce you to the great Northwest winter outdoors. Volunteers will be on hand to help you with the equipment. Soaring Eagle Ski Trails are located 8 miles north of Park Rapids on Highway 71 across from Eagle View Golf Course. Free use of ski equipment; a MN DNR trails pass is required. For more information, go to http://itascatur.org/ski.shtml.

Menahga’s Family Fishing Day on Spirit Lake offers an afternoon of fishing fun from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 21. There are games and attendance and fishing prizes.

Register for the Heartland 106 Snowmobile Race (USXC Snowmobile Racing) or plan to watch this exciting event. Races start at 9 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 21 and Sunday, Jan. 22. More information will be posted at www.parkrapids.com.

Tickets are on sale for the 19th Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby on Fish Hook Lake from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. The contest offers more than $130,000 in prizes. Your $40 ticket gives you access to the ice fishing contest and the raffle. The ice fishing contest grand prize for the 19th largest fish of the day is an Ice Castle Fish House. This year’s raffle grand prize is a 2016 Chevy truck. Polaris ATVs top the list of prizes in four of the five fishing contest divisions: bluegill and crappie; northern, walleye and largemouth bass; perch and rock bass. Cash prizes will be given in the white fish division. 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 are available at the American Legion or call 218-732-5238. For more information, go to http://americanlegionderby.com/.

Book lovers everywhere are invited to Night-In 2017 at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4 at Armory Square. Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery hosts this annual event which has become so popular it’s moved from the bookstore to a larger space. The store owners will recommend books they think would be great for book groups. In addition, they’ll serve refreshments, and give guests a bag of book-related information, including a brochure listing all the books they recommend. Publishers get behind the event in a generous way, so there are door prizes, too.

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.

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 recreate – not hibernate – 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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