Wolf pack at the International Wolf Center in Ely

Where to See Winter Wildlife in the North Woods Area

Scroll to Read
Image Caption
Three wolves poised on a snow mound at the International Wolf Center in Ely / Eve Schrank

Where to See Winter Wildlife in the North Woods Area

By Brian Fanelli

There are endless places to view winter wildlife in Minnesota, but my personal favorite is Bear Head Lake State Park. Secluded in the vast North Woods near Ely, it’s the perfect destination to view the eagles, wolves and moose that call northern Minnesota home.

How to Spot Wildlife at Bear Head Lake State Park

Almost as far north as you can go without hitting Canada, Bear Head Lake State Park epitomizes the “Up North” vibe: Pristine frozen lakes in every direction, dense pine forests, rolling hills and skies so blue they look like a postcard.

For the best wildlife viewing, strap on your snowshoes and venture into the untouched winter wilderness before the sun is up. While freely swiveling your head, move quietly and slowly through the park, paying special attention to look for mammal tracks in the snow.

The northern forest is home to white-tailed deer, black bear, moose, wolves and many smaller mammals; if you stay quiet and keep your eyes peeled, you’re practically guaranteed to glimpse a few of these majestic creatures. 

For an especially rustic experience, try to stay at one of the park’s five camper cabins. Named after some of the park’s more prominent trees (Aspen, Red Pine, White Pine, Cedar and Birch), they’re the perfect home base for a couple days of winter adventures.

Keep Exploring

From wildlife centers — Ely has a world-renowned one for wolves — to the great outdoors, Minnesota is a wonderful destination for wildlife viewing. Whether you want to meet Minnesota's purebred bison herds, experience fall migration on the Pine to Prairie Birding Trail or see elk in northwest Minnesota, you'll find plenty of places for birding and wildlife viewing in Minnesota. 

Brian Fanelli

When Brian Fanelli isn't managing content for companies like Miles Partnership and Ameriprise Financial Services, you'll find him browsing the sci-fi shelves in a local bookstore, biking one of Minnesota's spectacular trails or walking his Chihuahua around Minneapolis.