Two centuries ago, only Native Americans and French Canadian “voyageurs” saw the pelt-rich terrain of northern Minnesota. Today, Voyageurs National Park is still a haven for furry animals and hardy souls in winter. Brave the often extreme weather conditions (ice on the lakes, for example, can be five feet thick) and you’ll be in the good company of moose, white-tailed deer, mink, beavers, bald eagles, and the eastern timber wolf. Rangers at Voyageurs’ Rainy Lake Visitor Center teach clinics on how to make your own snowshoe and, once finished, take people deep into the forest of pines, birches and cedars on evening wolf howls. Two of the best ways to get lost is on the 2.5-mile Sullivan Bay snowshoe trail and the 11-mile Black Bay cross-country ski trail. Sullivan Bay is a hard-packed up-and-down route on the shores of Kabetogama Lake (one of Voyageurs network of 30 lakes). The groomed Black Bay Trail zips past beaver ponds under a grove of aspens. Spearfishing for northern pikes is popular on Kabetogama in winter, but that’s one sport rangers don’t teach. However, the park staff does plow a 7-mile road on Rainy Lake so anglers can set up their ice houses to fish for walleye and burbot.
Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels.