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Where Beauty & Nature Intersect

February 2017 – It’s prime time for winter fun

With Valentine’s Day, a three-day weekend and some great special events on February’s calendar, plan a winter getaway. A fresh layer of snow frosted our beautiful north woods this week.

Hundreds of miles of groomed snowmobile trails will take you places you might never find in the summer time – and there are no mosquitoes. Or explore the forest on groomed cross-country ski trails or view wildlife on a frozen, quiet lake. The ice is plenty thick so if ice fishing is your sport, it’s a good bet you’ll have some luck. Always check with a local bait dealer to be on the safe side before you head out though.

The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources updates snow and trail conditions in weekly reports posted after 2 p.m. every Thursday at

If you time your stay, you can sample one of these fun winter events:

It’s not too late to head north 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 raffle prizes. 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

Saturday evening visit Itasca State Park and ski or snowshoe by the light of the moon and kerosene lanterns. The program runs from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Feb. 4 with entertainment from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For book lovers, Beagle and Wolf Books will have the annual Night-in from 7 to 9 p.m. at Armory Square.

The Itascatur Outdoor Activity Club sponsors open houses every Sunday in February at the beautiful Soaring Eagle ski trails. Itascatur volunteers will be on hand to help get you out on the trails. You can use their ski equipment free of charge and have a cup of hot cocoa in the warming house. The only thing you need to provide is a MN DNR Trails Pass. Check for conditions and events at

Itasca event - 1

Itasca event - 1 (1)Discover the history of early horse logging from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 11 at Itasca State Park. Logging with horses was an industry common to the area in the late 1800s. See how it was done by watching lumberjacks fell trees with a two-man, cross-cut saw, buck the log into sections, skid the logs with a teamster’s trained horses, and cross-haul logs onto a horse-drawn sled. Also, explore the history of firewood from the need for this resource to heat homes and the equipment used to provide the firewood. Members of the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers will be on hand to demonstrate these early logging methods. Meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center.

On Valentine’s Day Feb. 14, there will be a Winter Wonderland Snowshoe at Itasca State Park. A beginner’s class from 1 to 2 p.m. will teach you the basics of snowshoeing as well as great places to visit in Itasca while wearing snowshoes. Meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center. Dress warmly and include snow boots. 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 your own. The number of snowshoes available is limited. Snowshoe rental is free with program attendance.

If you need help planning a memorable and affordable visit, need more information about these and other winter activities or if you have questions, call our friendly staff at 800-247-0054 to learn more. And be sure to check out the 2017 Chamber Guide to find out what’s happening all year long.



Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber, a Partner of Explore Minnesota Minnesota Chamber of Commerce Northwoods Bank, Partner of Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber Citizen's Bank in Park Rapids, MN Park Rapids Downtown Business Association Park Rapids Lakes Area Convention & Visitor's Bureau