The holidays are over and winter is now in full swing. The bitter cold seems less intense under the mid-day sun and the wind comes and goes leaving moments of stillness in between. The temps are low (or below zero) and daylight is short. But up north, we don’t let this slow us down. In fact, we embrace the cold. Not just because we’ve built up a tolerance to frigid air, but because staying active keeps the winter blues away and gives us a special, rare glimpse into nature’s stark beauty that comes only in the deepest part of winter.
What are the secrets to a perfect winter day? We’re glad you asked. Here’s how we’d spend every precious moment of daylight in our beautiful corner of Voyageurs National Park.
Through the years, suffering the cold has become a sort of challenge that we celebrate. It’s a challenge that many accept excitedly and many more accept begrudgingly. For instance, do you remember the ice bucket challenge where you dump a bucket of ice over a friend (or victim) for charity? Or the various snowball fights you had as a child or maybe still have, because who ever really grows out of wanting to play in the snow? We take stock in knowing that we’ve embraced the cold and we’re always a little rosier and prouder for doing so. It goes beyond our backyard though, with communities around the country celebrating winter’s beauty and coming together to make something magical, memorable, and fulfilling. It’s not just that we’re trying to beat the cold, but find a reason to make something meaningful because of it. In Leavenworth, Washington, they celebrate winter with the Bavarian Icefest which includes outdoor games, treats, and a stroll down a stunning street adorned with holiday lights. In our neighbor state of Wisconsin, they celebrate Winter Fest with art, music, and various family events and friendly competitions.
In International Falls, we have our own winter celebrations and, not to brag, but we’ve become quite famous for them. With several national news stations and big-name writers coming to check out Icebox Days and watch runners shiver through the Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run, we proudly own the “Icebox of the Nation” nickname. You’ll be hard pressed to find a colder place in the US than International Falls, MN, on any given day in January. But it’s just that challenge that we accept gladly as we prepare to celebrate the 40th Annual Icebox Days Winter Festival.
If you’re ready to celebrate the cold with us, there’s a plethora of activities to choose from in order to stay warm, and most importantly, have fun in January. To help you get organized, here are a few suggestions to make the most out of your festival weekend:
Want to see what Icebox Days from years past looked like? Read on from our blog here.
If you’ve ever been in Voyageurs National Park, you know what makes this place special because you’ve experienced it firsthand: every ripple from your paddle that catches the sun, every tree laden with snow that reminds you to slow down and breathe a little deeper, and every critter you glimpse on its merry way. Whether over wave or ice, your best bet to move around the park is over water, as it makes up over 40% of the park. For any season, mapping it out ahead of your visit is key. From camping, trail, and area maps, we’ve got you covered with an exhaustive list of maps on our website here.
It’s a wild, exceptionally beautiful place and waiting for you to explore. Plan your visit here and check out our packing checklist to make sure you bring the right gear to travel, sleep, and play.