By Joey Bunch | firstname.lastname@example.org | The Denver Post
Fall for the far north
International Falls has two famous residents: Smokey Bear, who has a namesake park and 26-foot statue here, and Bronko Nagurski, the Hall of Fame football player and native son whose museum is in Big Smokey Bear Park, across the street from a massive Boise paper mill on the Canadian border.
South of this fading blue-collar milltown is Voyageurs National Park, a hub for all the best outdoor splendor that northern Minnesota offers, including opportunities to drive down a creaking ice-covered river.
Minnesota is a winter bird-watching wonderland with more than 300 species that can be found here, including the rare-to-the-lower-48 snowy owls, a large raptor with catlike yellow eyes that can turn up as far south as the Twin Cities. Winter also brings Minnesota a parliament of great gray, boreal and hawk owls.
Nearly 160 species nest in the vast forests and largest peat bogs near Voyageurs National Park, including 23 types of wood warblers. Winter visitors also include red or white-winged crossbills, pine and evening grosbeaks and bohemian waxwings.
For fans of mind-blowing questions about human existence, schedule a tour at the NOvA Neutrino Lab along Ash River, 30 miles southeast of International Falls.
There, government physicists have a constructed a 14,000-ton detector to study subatomic particles called neutrinos. Produced by the sun, nuclear decay, cosmic rays and supernovae, neutrinos pass otherwise undetected through the planet and people. Researchers hope the detector will help explain the origins of the universe and why matter, including humans, exists...
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International Falls, MN 56649
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Select photography by Kallie Kantos