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Top 3: Better in Winter

What off season? Bundle up and reap the benefits of colder weather in these snowy playgrounds.
BP0313TRIP_Kwak_CraterLake2445x260.jpgThe author above Crater Lake

Voyageurs NP, MN
Black Bay Ski Loop
Glide through winter-access-only woods.

Getting to the Kabetogama Peninsula’s serene ponds and thick northern hardwood forest usually requires a boat—but come winter, Rainy Lake freezes (it’s usually solid by mid-January), offering an easy drive-in approach to miles of ski and snowshoe trails. Only four percent of the park’s annual visitors come in February and March, ensuring your own private paradise. Link the groomed Ridge, Pine, and Birch Trails for a six-mile skate or classic ski loop. You’ll glide past frozen beaver ponds, climb a rugged ridge, and wind through a naked forest of birch, aspen, and white pine; watch for fox prints in the snow, and listen for the howls of the park’s timber wolves. Stop at the Rainy Lake Visitor Center for $5 cross-country ski rentals or free loaner snowshoes.  (218-286-5258; nps.gov/voya

The way From International Falls, take MN 11 E 10 miles. Turn right on CR 96. From the visitor center, continue a mile north on Rainy Lake Ice Rd. to Black Bay. 

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