The new year brings an abundance of snow to play in whether you want to snowmobile on hundreds of miles of groomed trails, cross-country ski, learn to navigate the woods on snowshoes or build a fort.
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.
Lake ice is less certain and 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.
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 a First Day Hike exploring the Dr. Roberts Trail from 1 to 3 p.m. on New Year’s Day. Meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center in Itasca State Park. Itasca’s Lantern Lit Snowshoe and Ski is scheduled between 5 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, January 12. Meet at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center in Itasca State Park. A limited number of snowshoes are available at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center for use during the program and are first-come-first-serve. Please check out the snowshoes before the hikes start.
If you want to learn how to snowshoe, there will be a beginner’s class from 10:30 a.m. to noon Saturday, January 26 at the Jacob V. Brower Visitor Center classroom. The class will cover the basics: types of snowshoes, how to walk in snowshoes and great places to visit in Itasca while wearing snowshoes. Then participants will head outside to try out their new skills.
Racers will traverse forests and lakes and experience the natural beauty of the area in the Park Rapids Heartland 200 USXC snowmobile racing event Saturday, January 19 and Sunday, January 20. 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 17 or on-site between 4 and 7:30 p.m. Friday, January 18 at a location to be announced. The Park Rapids Lakes Area Chamber is coordinating the event.
Menahga’s Family Fishing Derby on Spirit Lake offers an afternoon of fishing fun from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19. There are games and attendance and fishing prizes.
The popular winter event for book lovers is returning to Beagle and Wolf Books & Bindery the evening of Saturday, January 19 and the day of Sunday, January 20 at the store. 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. For more information, go to beagleandwolf.com.
Tickets are on sale for the 21st Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Contest on Fish Hook Lake from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, February 2. 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 $45,000 Thielen Motors Certificate. 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. In conjunction with the fishing contest, the American Legion also sponsors a Friday night Welcome Dance and Saturday night Fisherman’s Ball with the “Front Fenders.” 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’re ready for 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. – LuAnn Hurdlof