Subzero temperatures have thickened the ice, but caution is always 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 but snowmobile trail conditions aren’t great yet. With a bit more snow, snowmobilers can look forward to riding 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.
Enjoy the beauty of winter in Itasca State Park on snowshoes. A beginner’s class from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, January 13 at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center classroom will cover the basics from different types of snowshoes to how to walk in snowshoes as well as great places to visit in Itasca State Park wearing snowshoes. Dress warmly and include snow boots. If snow conditions permit, part of the program will be outside on the trail trying out your new skills. Call ahead at 218-699-7251 to reserve a pair of snowshoes or bring our own. The number of snowshoes available is limited. Kids, bring your families and follow the treasure map to see if X really marks the spot. The treasure hunt will be from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Saturday, January 13, also at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center. Explore different maps and see how they can lead you on your next adventure. Wear winter outdoor clothes including snow pants and boots as this activity will take you outside.
Racers will traverse forests and lakes and experience the natural beauty of the Park Rapids Lakes Area Saturday, January 20 and Sunday, January 21. The first day’s race will be a cross country ditch race. The second day racers will run through the Paul Bunyan State Forest. Both races start at 9 a.m. and invite spectators to cheer racers on. The start/finish line will again be on the south side of state Highway 34, two miles east of Park Rapids. There will be 21 classes from junior to pro, open, vintage and classic IFS. (Juniors-Vintage and Classic IFS run Saturday only.) Register online at usxcracing.com by 8 p.m. Thursday, January 18 or on-site at the Super 8 between 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 19. The Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber is coordinating the event.
Menahga’s Family Fishing Day on Spirit Lake offers an afternoon of fishing fun from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20. There are games and attendance and fishing prizes.
The popular winter event for book lovers is returning to Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery, but with a twist. Night In will be offered twice! The identical sessions will be at the store at 7 p.m. Saturday, January 20 and at 10 a.m. Sunday, January 21. To avoid overcrowding, please make a reservation (no charge.) Call (218-237-2665) or email (email@example.com) to reserve a spot. Night In will have everything you love about the event: The company of other book lovers, recommendations of great books, prizes, goody bags filled with bookish swag and refreshments.
Steve Maanum will perform a collection of his stories during An Evening with a Storyteller at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center at 4 p.m. Saturday, January 27 at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center. Then visit Itasca and ski or snowshoe by the light of the moon and kerosene lanterns along the Many Lakes Road (south entrance). Meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center. Travel at your own pace between 5 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 27 along the lantern lit route during this drop-in program. For added fun, bring along your s’mores fixings or hot dogs for cooking at the campfire. Limited snowshoes will be available on a first come-first served basis. If snow conditions are poor, the event will become a snow boot walk. Itasca does not have cross-country skis to rent. Performing the night of the Lantern Lit Snowshoe and Ski event, Lori Goulet Reich will sing and play guitar as you warm up by the fireplace and enjoy an evening of music from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center lobby.
Tickets are on sale for the 20th Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby on Fish Hook Lake from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, February 3. The contest offers more than $150,000 in prizes. Your $40 ticket gives you access to the ice fishing contest and the raffle. The ice fishing contest grand prize for the 20th largest fish of the day is an Ice Castle RV Fish House. This year’s raffle grand prize is a 2017 Ford pickup truck. 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, sunfish 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. Tickets are available at the American Legion or call 218-732-3360. For more information, go to www.parkrapidsamericanlegion.com or parkrapidsicecontest.com.
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 and fun shops.
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 dive into some winter fun 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.