By Lindsay Susla, Molly Kinney & Lianna Matt / Inspired by Will Steger’s My North
Minnesotans love our change of seasons. Our connection to our state’s beautiful trails, parks and shores is dynamic whether the waters of our 10,000 lakes are frozen or flowing. And that chill you feel isn’t the temperature; it’s the thrilling feeling of doing something that is truly unique. Truly Minnesotan.
Dog Sledding, Ely Area
Direct a team of sled dogs for a weekend and explore 70 miles of trails around Ely, a kiss away from the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Choose between lodge-based, yurt and even camping trips that allow you to learn mushing skills and traverse miles of new terrain. Trips are typically offered from December through March.
International Eelpout Festival, Walker
For a real dose of Minnesota culture, head northwest to the town of Walker. Snowmobile and ice fish on Leech Lake, or stop by Chase on the Lake for live music. If you’re lucky enough to overlap with the annual Eelpout Festival in late February, try your hand at curling out on the lake. Then, challenge friends to mechanical bull riding or a beer pong tournament and warm up with some fish fry.
Skijoring, Twin Cities Area
Skijoring—cross-country skiing with a dog leading the way—is becoming popular, and Minnesota parks departments have made sure you can see why for yourself. Theodore Wirth Park in Minneapolis has 15 miles of groomed trails, or for a more rural setting, Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain has 5.2 miles of path for you and your pup. You can pick up skijoring gear at Midwest Mountaineering—just provide the dog.
Snowshoeing, Minnesota State Parks
Snowshoe through powder along Lake Superior’s North Shore at Tettegouche State Park. Wander the park as you please, and learn the indigenous craft of lacing snowshoes afterward. Elsewhere in the state, 25 other state parks rent snowshoes for just $6 per day.
Winter Camping, State & Regional Parks
Winter camping may be for the brave of heart, but Minnesota has tons of great locations to do it if you’re up for a little challenge. Trailblazers will love Jay Cooke State Park south of Duluth, which keeps 12 sites open during the winter. If you’re looking for a warmer option, but still want to zen out in nature, Whitetail Woods in Farmington has adorable camper cabins for available for rent year-round.
Snowkiting, Twin Cities and Mille Lacs
Catch the wind, get some air, and try a truly unique sport on the frozen lakes of Minnesota with snowkiting. Check out Dynamik Kiteboarding to get on the ice for group or private lessons that are held around the Minneapolis-St. Paul area and elsewhere in Minnesota. If you’re in town during early March, stop by to see the Midwest’s best snow kiters fly across Lake Mille Lacs at the Mille Lacs Kite Crossing.