For those who know that win­ter brings about the best adven­ture, don’t let the impend­ing ris­ing tem­per­a­tures get you down. Chances are, with a cold sea­son often span­ning beyond Novem­ber thru April, there is still some win­ter left to explore in North­ern Min­neso­ta. While the Twin Cities knows how to cel­e­brate win­ter right with events like the Saint Paul Win­ter Car­ni­val and City of Lakes Lop­pet Ski Fes­ti­val, you have to head even fur­ther north to get the full essence of wilder­ness win­ter sur­round­ings. Once you hit Duluth, you can real­ly begin to extend your win­ter with adven­ture at the Sand­stone Ice Park next to the Ket­tle River.

Split Rock Lighthouse, Minnesota

North Shore of Lake Superior
Span­ning for 110 miles from Duluth to Grand Portage and cov­er­ing the entire Min­neso­ta coast of Lake Supe­ri­or, the “North Shore” of Lake Supe­ri­or is a scenic des­ti­na­tion any time of the year. The mas­sive expanse that is the largest lake in North Amer­i­ca has an extra appeal come win­ter though, includ­ing an abun­dance of sea­son­al­ly appro­pri­ate activ­i­ties on both sides of the scenic roadway.

Ski­ing of all types is easy to find. Down­hill rid­ers will enjoy the gon­do­la-enabled 90 dif­fer­ent runs found at Lut­sen Moun­tains. Cross-coun­try enthu­si­asts have a lot to choose from includ­ing the 65+ kilo­me­ters of the Sug­ar­bush Ski Trail near Tofte. For Fat­bike users, the North Shore has begun con­vert­ing past routes into plus-size tire friend­ly trails, includ­ing a notably scenic 8.7 miles at Split Rock Light­house State Park (which is also open to snow­shoe users).

Gun­flint Trail / Supe­ri­or Nation­al Forest
Far along the North Shore Scenic Dri­ve, just before Grand Portage and the Cana­di­an Bor­der, the har­bor town of Grand Marais marks the begin­ning of a pop­u­lar out­let into the Supe­ri­or Nation­al For­est, the Gun­flint Trail. Paved and plowed through­out the win­ter, the Gun­flint Trail stretch­es for 55 miles. It nav­i­gates through dense wood­lands and a water-pock­et­ed for­est, pro­vid­ing unpar­al­leled access to the rugged envi­ron­ment. There are no towns along the Gun­flint Trail, but plen­ty of activ­i­ty can be found via resorts, trail­heads, and campgrounds.

Through­out the long win­ter on the Gun­flint Trail, deep snow cov­ers the land­scape, adding an extra lay­er of scenic sur­round­ings and things to do. Dif­fer­ent yurts and cab­ins enable overnight trav­els along many of well-main­tained cross-coun­try ski, snow­shoe and snow­mo­bile routes. Of par­tic­u­lar note, the Cen­tral Gun­flint Ski Sys­tem, main­tained by area lodges and resorts, fea­tures near­ly 50 kilo­me­ters of pic­turesque Supe­ri­or For­est win­ter surroundings.

Snowshoe Hiking

Bound­ary Waters Canoe Recre­ation Area
Sur­round­ing the west­ern ter­mi­nus and extend­ing from the 55-mile Gun­flint Trail, the Bound­ary Waters Canoe Recre­ation Area (BWCA) is a mil­lion+ acre des­ig­nat­ed wilder­ness filled with glacial-strewn lakes, beach­es, and true essence of explo­ration. Often asso­ci­at­ed with sum­mer trips of a life­time, the BWCA is a rugged win­ter expe­ri­ence wait­ing to hap­pen. Every­thing from dog-sled­ding to ice fish­ing to long-dis­tance cross-coun­try ski routes laces the Bound­ary Waters in win­ter. Knowl­edge, plan­ning, and appro­pri­ate gear are all required for win­ter trav­el in the BWAC, so make sure to pack every­thing accordingly.

Voyageurs Nation­al Park
Shar­ing a bor­der with the Bound­ary Waters Canoe Recre­ation Area to the west, Voyageurs Nation­al Park is anoth­er water-laden haven rich with nat­ur­al resources. Accessed from the win­ter-friend­ly town of Inter­na­tion­al Falls, Voyageurs almost becomes eas­i­er to get to thanks to the win­ter con­di­tions. Ice roads begin open­ing up by Decem­ber, of which the NPS rec­om­mends dri­ving on with seat­belts off and win­dows open, and the entire area is spi­der­webbed with cross-coun­try ski, snow­shoe and snow­mo­bil­ing routes. The Rainy Lake Vis­i­tor Cen­ter will lend you a pair of snow­shoes for free to help you explore the win­try area.

Winter River Landscape

Queti­co Provin­cial Park
Haven’t exhaust­ed your win­ter fever yet? To the north of the all this Min­neso­ta action, Cana­da is primed and ready for a major­i­ty of the year with cold-weath­er activ­i­ty. Con­nect­ed to the Supe­ri­or Nation­al For­est via the Bound­ary Waters Canoe Area Wilder­ness, Queti­co Provin­cial Park pro­vides even more cross-coun­try ski trails, cab­ins, and win­ter com­mu­ni­ty. Look­ing for a rea­son to go? The Cross Queti­co Lakes Tour in March is often hailed as one of the coolest adven­tures in Canada.

International Falls, Rainier & Rainy Lake CVB

International Falls, Rainier & Rainy Lake CVB

If you think your win­ter is cold, imag­ine liv­ing in a city dubbed “The Ice­box of the Nation.”  The place is Inter­na­tion­al Falls, Min­neso­ta, a city so cold it has been called the cold­est city in Amer­i­ca many times over. Sit­ting on the bor­der between the U.S. and Cana­da, this scenic city in north­ern Min­neso­ta is not just some frozen waste­land where win­ter rules all. Win­ter in Inter­na­tion­al Falls is a time for cel­e­bra­tion, a sea­son where snow-laden cit­i­zens do their best to keep toasty and active.

To give some good per­spec­tive on your own win­ter wor­ries, Faye Whit­back, Inter­na­tion­al Falls Cham­ber of Com­merce Pres­i­dent, is hap­py to give some insight on how one of the cold­est cities around embraces Old Man Winter.

The Clymb: With a win­ter sea­son span­ning 4–5 months and aver­age tem­per­a­tures from Novem­ber to Feb­ru­ary float­ing around 26º Fahren­heit (as well as 71 inch­es of snow), what are some of the dif­fer­ent activ­i­ties res­i­dents of Inter­na­tion­al Falls take part in dur­ing the winter?

Faye Whit­back: Of course hock­ey is hot in Inter­na­tion­al Falls. Ice fish­ing is a giv­en and a col­or­ful ice house cul­ture thrives on our frozen Rainy Lake (the 63rd largest fresh-water lake in the world). Rainy Lake is a huge area and with portable equip­ment, spots to fish are unlim­it­ed. Cross-coun­try ski­ing, snow­shoe­ing, snow­mo­bil­ing and ATV rid­ing are a big part of our win­ter life as well. There are prob­a­bly at least 10 miles of trails with­in Voyageurs Nation­al Park (the nation’s only 100 per­cent water-based Nation­al Park), and out­side of Voyageurs NP, there’s at least anoth­er eight miles of cross-coun­try ski­ing in the area.

International Falls, Rainier & Rainy Lake CVB

The Clymb: Win­ter in Inter­na­tion­al Falls seems to cul­mi­nate with the annu­al Ice­box Days. What are some of the events and activ­i­ties offered by this fes­ti­val which is now enter­ing its 36th year running?

FW:  Much of the world has heard about our Ice­box Days win­ter fes­ti­val, with the sig­na­ture event the “Freeze Yer Giz­zard Bliz­zard Run.” It’s been fea­tured on every major net­work, and many cable chan­nels. Our win­ter needs this wacky fes­ti­val packed full of orig­i­nal events for vis­it­ing “Giz­zard” run­ners and fam­i­lies. Com­mu­ni­ty guests and res­i­dents are all encour­aged to try frozen turkey bowl­ing, the chili cook-off, local­ly-invent­ed “smoosh” board races, moon­light snow­shoe­ing in Voyageurs Nation­al Park and, new this year, a golf game on Rainy Lake. Exhil­a­rat­ing fire­works under the win­ter sky are staged Sat­ur­day evening near Smokey Bear Park. Every­one is warm­ly wel­comed to the Ice­box of the Nation Jan. 14–17 for the 36th amaz­ing year of Ice­box Days and the Freeze Yer Giz­zard Bliz­zard Run.

The Clymb: The “Freeze Yer Giz­zard Bliz­zard Run” sounds like it’s a fun (and cold) time. What is it that makes this event so spe­cial and what dri­ves peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate in such a cold win­ter weath­er activity?

FW: The Giz­zard race is held in the tra­di­tion­al­ly cold­est week­end of the year and has nev­er been can­celled in 35 years. It’s an amaz­ing expe­ri­ence in which 300 or more run­ners come to earn the title “Only the Bold Run the Cold.” While at least half the races have been held in below zero temps, even grade-school­ers to octo­ge­nar­i­an par­tic­i­pate. The bold­est often arrive in cos­tume and there’s always a few wear­ing, well, hard­ly anything—exposing limbs with implied supe­ri­or­i­ty. There’ve been bum­ble­bees, bal­leri­nas, and bois­ter­ous birds among oth­er fun-lov­ing brag­gado­cios. But there’s more you need to know about those who earn “the bold;” they seem to be inhab­it­ed with a love for run­ning and nature that’s so robust they can’t help but par­tic­i­pate in this joy­ous win­ter resilience.

International Falls, Rainier & Rainy Lake CVB

The Clymb: While win­ter seems to be pret­ty syn­ony­mous with Inter­na­tion­al Falls, the oth­er three sea­sons are full of crisp autumn col­ors, warm sum­mer breezes, and sweet-smelling spring thaws. Which sea­son is your favorite, and would you say win­ter is the best?

FW: We don’t try to con­vince folks that win­ter is bet­ter than sum­mer. With sum­mers like ours, that would be sil­ly. What we do is cel­e­brate winter’s char­ac­ter with resilien­cy and fun. We encour­age Moth­er Nature to do a lit­tle dance with Old Man Win­ter. Embrace it. Life goes on and spend­ing time in a snowy won­der­land where cheeks turn pink and noses go numb isn’t so bad, it can even be exhilarating.

Must See Dur­ing Win­ter in Inter­na­tion­al Falls

Rainy Lake Area
Dubbed as the head­quar­ters to Voyageurs Nation­al Park, the Rainy Lake Area is your one-stop des­ti­na­tion for every win­ter recre­ation­al activ­i­ty out­side of down­hill ski­ing. Whether you find your­self cross-coun­try ski­ing, ice fish­ing, snow­mo­bil­ing, or just enjoy­ing the white win­ter blan­ket views of Minnesota’s snow-clad wilder­ness, you can rough it or stay at one of the many cab­ins and vaca­tion homes that sur­round this his­toric site.

Voyageurs Nation­al Park
Locat­ed in the heart of the North Amer­i­can con­ti­nent, Voyageurs Nation­al Park is the nation’s only water-based Nation­al Park, and Inter­na­tion­al Falls is your gate­way to the excite­ment. Although Voyageurs is most pop­u­lat­ed in the sum­mer months, the win­ter pro­vides a sur­plus of snow activ­i­ties to find the soli­tude and blood-pump­ing bliss only offered in the cold­er months.

Ice­box Days 2016 — Jan­u­ary 14–17
Ice­box Days is the annu­al win­ter fes­ti­val in Inter­na­tion­al Falls. It takes every­thing that’s great about win­ter and crams it into a long week­end full of snow-fed activ­i­ty. This past year fea­tured recre­ation­al and com­mu­ni­ty activ­i­ties such as a wing eat­ing con­test, pub crawl, moon­light snow­shoe­ing, pan­cake break­fasts, frozen turkey bowl­ing, fire­works, and of course the infa­mous “Freeze Yer Giz­zard Bliz­zard Run.”

Now Hiring- Where to Move to Work in the Outdoors










It’s every enthu­si­ast’s dream, to get paid to do what we pay to do. Park rangers, advo­ca­cy direc­tors, con­ser­van­cy plan­ners, brand mar­keters, and on and on. The out­door indus­try rep­re­sents a mas­sive amount of employ­ment oppor­tu­ni­ties if you know where to look for them. To get your dream job, you’ve got to go where the dreams live. Below is a list of the best places in the coun­try for out­door indus­try jobs. Con­tin­ue read­ing