After the Polar Vortex, February promises less talk about the weather and more doing outdoors.
Who needs an excuse to head north with Valentine’s Day, a three-day weekend and some great special events coming up? The upside of subzero temps is thick ice and insurance on all the snow that’s fallen so far. And the days are getting longer.
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. 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 www.dnr.state.mn.us/snow_depth/index.html.
If you time your stay, you can sample one of these fun winter events:
It’s not too late to head north for the 21st Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby on Fish Hook Lake from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 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.
The Itascatur Outdoor Activity Club will sponsor open houses from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Sundays in February at the beautiful Soaring Eagle ski trails. Itascatur volunteers will be on hand to help. The club has adult and children’s skis, boots and poles available at no charge or bring your own equipment. Enjoy the trails and warm up with a cup of hot chocolate in the warming house. The only thing you need is a MN Ski Pass. Check for conditions and events at https://itascatur.org.
Discover the history of early horse logging, an industry common to this area in the late 1800s at an Old Time Logging Demo from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9 at Itasca State Park. Watch lumberjacks fell trees with a two-man cross-cut saw, buck the log into sections, skid and cross-haul logs onto a horse drawn sled. Members of the Lake Itasca Region Pioneer Farmers will be on hand to demonstrate these early logging methods.
On Saturday, Feb. 16 head to Itasca State Park and snowshoe by the light of the moon and kerosene lanterns along the trail. Snowshoe at your own pace along the lantern lit route during this drop-in program between 5:30 and 8 p.m. starting at the Mary Gibbs Mississippi Headwaters Center. For added fun, bring along your s’mores fixings or hot dogs for cooking at the campfire. A limited number of snowshoes will be available on a first come-first served basis. Call 218-699-7251.
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 2019 Chamber Discovery Guide to find out what’s happening all year long. – LuAnn Hurd-Lof