Minnesota vacation home rentals.

Private home rentals in Northern Minnesota has taken a new twist at White Birch Resort. This resort has built luxury homes as large as 6 bedrooms that accommodate 22 people.These homes are built to the highest standards in workmanship and are equipped with higher end  furnishings.

These homes not only have top notch decor but have private 12 person concrete hot tubs built right in the decks. These spas are the first for small resorts the size of White Birch Resort.

With private home rentals taking the market by storm in the last 5 years, White Birch Resort has such a advantage when it comes to activities. When a home is rented at the resort there are over 30 free activities included with it.

If you are in the market for a vacation at the lake in Minnesota you deserve some time at White Birch Resort.

White Birch Resort

Luxury vacation home rentals at White Birch Resort

Minnesota walleye opener 2016

Walleye opener in Minnesota is little over a month away. The season looks to start early this year since the ice is not a thick as previous seasons. Blackduck Lake is one of Minnesota’s top ten walleye lakes in the state. With being only 25′ deep the lake warms up quicker than deeper lakes.

Blackduck Lake  will be a hot spot for opener since Millacs Lake is pretty much shut down for the year. Fishermen will head farther north to try their luck on a now body of water.

White Birch Resort is located on the north side of Blackduck Lake and has some of the most unique rentals in the state. They offer 5 star accommodations unlike any other resort in the Midwest. With some homes sleeping up to 22 people and private hot tubs White Birch Resort has tapped into the families looking for luxury stays while fishing.

Visit www.whitebirchresort.net for all the great deals.

White Birch Resort

Luxury vacation homes for a family vacation in Minnesota is what White Birch Resort offers. The resort has new higher end homes that sleep up to 22 people. Some of the homes do have private 12 person hot tubs that are a big hit for the entire family.

To view more details of this Minnesota resort go to www.whitebirchresort.net

Minnesota events provided by White Birch Resort

Highlights this week include:

Feb. 6, New Ulm
Fasching & Bock Fest

Jan. 28 – Feb. 7, St. Paul
Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Feb. 5 & 6, Brainerd
Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza

Feb. 5 & 6, Bemidji
Lake Bemidji Winterfest

Feb. 4-14, Ely
Ely Winter Festival & Ely ArtWalk



[Southern] [Twin Cities] [ Central] [Northwest] [Northeast]

Southern Minnesota

Jan. 28 – Feb. 14, Rochester
WinterFest XIV
WinterFest promotes wintertime activities for all ages with a wide variety of activities including candlelight skis, ice skating, miniature golf on ice, youth and adult ice fishing contest, cardboard sled race, frozen turkey bowling, Frozen Goose run/walk, sleigh rides, and a Polar Plunge. Visitors will also enjoy Warm Up in Winter with the Stevie Ray Comedy Troupe, a Community Expo, Bacon Fest, 13th Annual Hearts & Diamonds Spectacular, live music, In Cahoots Murder Mystery, and more! 800-634-8277

Jan. 29 – Feb. 7, St. Peter
Just some of the many Winterfest highlights include a Polar Plunge, Poker Walk, “Frozen” Night at the Museum (Treaty Site History Center), a medallion hunt, youth ice fishing contest, hairy legs contest, live music, the Ambassadors’ Dinner, Dance & Casino Night, and Special Evening of Urban Blues! 507-934-3400

Jan. 30 – Feb. 6, Granite Falls
Ole & Lena Days
Enjoy a week of fun in the middle of winter with dinner, live music & silent auction at Bootlegger’s Supper Club, the Ole & Lena medallion hunt, continuous on-air Ole & Lena jokes, a Bootlegger’s Beer Tasting event, John Mueller’s Winter Dance Party at Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort, craft sale, free lefse, a concert by the Blue Eyes Band, Firemen’s Dance featuring the Plott Hounds, and a Scandinavian Feast at Prairie’s Edge Casino Resort. 320-564-4039

Feb. 5-28, Waseca
Sleigh & Cutter Festival
If you like horses, curling, ice sculptures, and parades, the Waseca Sleigh and Cutter Festival is the event for you! Highlights include the 66th Annual Waseca Sleigh & Cutter Parade, performances by the Jesse James Gang, Elm Creek Cowboys and Cannon old West Society, the Frosty the Snowman Contest, Sleigh & Cutter Plunge, Kruger Memorial Vintage Snowmobile Radar Run, and $1,750 Medallion Contest. 507-461-3727

Feb. 6, Madison Lake
Humminbird MSU Big Bobber Ice Fishing Contest
The 7th Annual Big Bobber Ice Fishing Contest will be held at The Landing on Madison Lake at 12 p.m. with prizes determined by fish weight and time entered. Limited to first 3,000 entrants. 507-389-2930; 507-243-9898

Feb. 6, New Ulm
Fasching & Bock Fest
Fasching is a German Mardi Gras with music, dancing, ethnic food and drink, and a hilarious “Parade of Costumes.” On the same day, beckon warmer weather with a mug full of Bock, dancing and food at the Schell’s Brewery grounds during Bock Fest. 507-359-2941; 507-354-5528

Feb. 12-14, Winona
Winona Winter Carnival
The 2016 Winona Winter Carnival offers something for everyone with the Winona Masons Sock Hop Dance, Midwest Music Fest, Cabin Fever Dash, Winona Farmers & Artisan Market, Frozen River Film Festival, Goose Bump Jump, Cardinal Plunge, and 22nd Annual Chili Cook-off. 507-457-8258

Feb. 13, Watson
Ice Castle Classic Ice Fishing Tournament
The 3rd Annual Ice Castle Classic is held on beautiful Lac Qui Parle Lake with large prizes, a kids’ ice fishing clinic, warming house, and Lac Qui Parle Lake Association raffle. 320-269-9136

Feb. 20, Red Wing
THE PHAT PACK: Broadway at its Best
Named 2013’s best all-around performers by Las Vegas Review Journal, The Phat Pack celebrates the best of Broadway with powerful vocals and astonishing rapport. Sheldon Theatre. 651-388-8700

Twin Cities Greater Metropolitan vicinity

Dec. 26March 5, Eden Prairie
Ice Castles
Visitors will be amazed by this magical collision of ice caves, frozen waterfalls and glaciers formed into towering archways, caverns and tunnels. Miller Park. 888-407-4054

Jan. 8 – March 3, St. Paul
Omnifest 2016
Omnifest 2016 will bring five giant screen films to the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Omnitheater 90-foot domed screen. Films include Jerusalem, Forces of Nature, Mysteries of the Great Lakes, and Humpback Whales. 651-221-9444

Jan. 9 – March 13, St. Paul
Winter Flower Show
The Marjorie McNeely Como Park Conservatory has unveiled its Winter Flower Show in the Sunken Garden. This display is as artful as it is fragrant and includes a mixture of purple, red and pink plants in the warmth and comfort of the conservatory! And from Feb. 12-14, enjoy a cozy candle-lit gourmet dinner and cocktails inside the conservatory amongst all the flowers — reserve your Valentine’s Dining Experience! 651-487-8200

Jan. 28 – Feb. 7, St. Paul
Saint Paul Winter Carnival
The 130th Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the “Coolest Celebration on Earth, brings family-friendly events and community pride to Saint Paul and the Twin Cities metro area. Just some of the highlights include the Royal Coronation, Grande Day Parade, Outdoor Beer Dabbler, Winter Carnival Medallion Hunt, Kids’ Day, Vulcan’s Snow Park, Klondike Kate Cabarets, and the Torchlight Parade! 651-223-7400; 651-265-4900

Jan. 30 & Feb. 6, St. Paul
A Prairie Home Companion with guest host Chris Thile
A live broadcast from the Fitzgerald Theater with guest host Chris Thile, and special guests Ben Folds, Brandi Carlile, the Punch Brothers, and Sarah Jarosz. Special guests for the Feb. 6 performance with Chris Thile include Paul Simon, Andrew Bird, Maria Bamford, and members of the Punch Brothers. 651-290-1200

Feb. 5 & 6, Chanhassen
The Fabulous Armadillos Present Guilty Pleasures!
Everyone has songs that they secretly love to listen and sing to, but never admit to. The Armadillos will unapologetically play some of their favorite “guilty pleasures” songs which are likely on your hidden playlists, too. Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. 952-934-1525

Feb. 6, Wayzata
Wayzata Chilly Open Frozen Golf Tournament
Minnesota golf in February? You betcha! Imagine three 9-hole courses plowed out on Lake Minnetonka, and over 1,200 golfers with their hockey sticks and golf clubs hitting tennis balls while enjoying free food, give-a-ways, live music, prizes and costumes! Lake Minnetonka’s Wayzata Bay. 952-473-9595

Feb. 6 & 7, Minneapolis
Healthy Life Expo
This is the largest show of its kind in the Midwest, and this year’s show will be the largest ever with roughly 200 exhibitors offering everything for health, balance and success in all areas of life. Also enjoy three stages of on-going speaker presentations, demonstrations, product samples, hourly drawings, and free health care information. Free with a food shelf donation. Minneapolis Convention Center. 952-238-1700

Feb. 6-28 (Saturdays & Sundays), White Bear Lake
Art Shanty Projects
The 2016 On-Ice Art Shanty Project will be held on White Bear Lake where the frozen surface acts as host and backdrop to a wide range of activities, stories, songs, games and more. Using ice shanties, artists elicit interactions with the public. 612-567-6844

Feb. 11-14, Minneapolis
Minneapolis / St. Paul RV, Vacation & Camping Show
The 48th Annual RV, Vacation & Camping Show is the largest consumer show of its type in the five-state area with hundreds of 2016 class A, B and C motorhomes, travel trailers, fifth-wheels, tent trailers and park models from the leading dealers. Learn about campgrounds across the region, and check out the newest gadgets and accessories to make the most of your next camping trip! Minneapolis Convention Center. 612-335-6000; 800-848-6247

Feb. 12-14, Chanhassen
Night Full of Wonder – Stevie Wonder
Night Full of Wonder – Stevie Wonder, is a tribute to an all-star by some of the Twin Cities own all-stars! Come celebrate this music industry pioneer and innovator, perhaps the 8th wonder of the world! Chanhassen Dinner Theatre. 952-934-1525

Feb. 13, Oak Grove
“Pheasants On Ice” Ice Fishing Tournament
The 1st Annual Pheasants on Ice fishing derby features over $20,000 in prizes! Reduced entry fee for children 12 and under. Lake George Regional Park. 651-983-5904

Upcoming Twin Cities’ concerts and performances include:
World’s Toughest Rodeo at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Feb. 5
Three Dog Night at the Medina Entertainment Center in Medina, Feb. 6
Newsies at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Feb. 9-14
Elvis Lives! at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Feb. 12 & 13
Twin Cities Laugh-A-Thon at the Historic State Theatre, Feb. 13
Gypsy (Broadway Re-Imagined) at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, Feb. 13- March 13
Shen Yun at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, Feb. 19-21
Bruce Springsteen & E Street Band – The River Tour at the Xcel Energy Center, Feb. 29
If/Then (Touring) at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 8-13
R5 at the Historic State Theatre, March 11
Cloud Cult at the Historic State Theatre, March 12
Fall Out Boy -Wintour is Coming at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, March 13
Jeff Foxworthy & Larry the Cable Guy at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 19
The Mavericks at the Historic State Theatre, March 19
Zakir Hussain at the Pantages Theatre, March 19
Jose Gonzalez with Ymusic at the Pantages Theatre, March 20
Harlem Globetrotters at the Target Center in Minneapolis, March 25
Scottly McCreery at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, March 25
Riverdance at the Historic State Theate, March 25-27
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, March 29-April 3
Chicago and Earth, Wind & Fire – Heart and Soul Tour 2.0 at the Xcel Energy Center, April 2
Kirk Franklin at the Historic State Theatre, April 2
For more on these and other performances, contact Eventful or Ticketmaster


================ ONLY list events to here ============


Marvel Universe Live! at the Target Center, April 7-10
Foreigner at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, April 9
Ira Glass at the Historic State Theatre, April 9
Hillsong Worship Outcry Tour at the Xcel Energy Center, April 12
Sebastian Maniscalco at the Pantages Theatre, April 15
Welcome to Night Vale at the Historic State Theatre, April 16
Brantley Gilbert at the Target Center, April 23
The Wild Kratts Live! at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, April 29 & 30
Dream Theater at the Historic State Theatre, May 1
Ellie Goulding at the Xcel Energy Center, May 5
Tony Bennett at the Historic State Theatre, May 6
Alton Brown at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, May 8
The Book of Mormon at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, May 10-29
Selena Gomez at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, June 28
5 Seconds of Summer at the Xcel Energy Center, July 31
Journey & The Doobie Brothers at the Xcel Energy Center, Aug. 9
Brian Wilson Presents Pet Sounds at the Historic Orpheum Theatre, Oct. 2

Central Minnesota

Jan. 23 – Feb. 6, Spicer
Spicer Winterfest
Enjoy a breathtaking ice structure and slide, snowmobile runs, ice fishing tournaments, fireworks, a craft sale, a Frozen 5K run, WinterFest Kids’ Carnival, horse and buggy rides, medallion hunt, and the 12th Annual Polar Plunge! 320-796-8066

Feb. 4 – 6, Crosslake
The annual Crosslake community celebration includes a wide array of activities for all ages. On Thursday, start your hunt for the Lost Medallion. Friday festivities begin with Cabin Fever Carnival games for kids, followed by skating, sleigh rides, a scavenger hunt, DJ music, bonfires, s’mores, and fireworks during Celebrate WinterFest. On Saturday, enjoy a pancake breakfast, helicopter rides, Tiki Bar & bonfire with s’mores, the annual SoupFest, car racing on ice, beer tastings, radar runs, and children’s games. 218-692-4027

Feb. 5 & 6, Brainerd
Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza
Join 10,000 anglers vying for more than $150,000 in prizes when they compete in the 26th Annual Brainerd Jaycees $150,000 Ice Fishing Extravaganza, the world’s largest live release ice fishing contest! Visitors will enjoy food and shopping on the ice, a Youth Ice Olympics and Extravaganza Raffle. A Kick-off Party featuring the Deuces Wild Dueling Piano Show will be held at Grand View Lodge Friday, Feb. 5. In addition to the Dueling Pianos show, enjoy a social hour, dinner, and chatting with many ice fishing professionals. Gull Lake’s Hole in the Day Bay. 800-450-2838

Feb. 5-7, Fergus Falls
Frostbite Festival
Celebrate winter with fun, family-friendly activities throughout Fergus Falls with ice skating, bingo, “Snowflake Factory” Family Fun event, children’s activities, ice fishing, Karaoke & DJ music, “Big Game” parties, 37th Annual Sertoma Ice Fishing Derby & Raffle, and WCCO Radio Live Broadcast “Goin’ to the Frozen Lake!”218-736-6951

Feb. 11-21, Willmar
The Addams Family Musical
The Addams Family, a new original musical, will be performed Thursdays through Sundays at the Barn Theatre. See what happens when Wednesday Addams, the ultimate princess of darkness, falls in love with a sweet, smart and “normal” young man. 320-235-9500

Feb. 13, St. Cloud
Boat Show and Sports Card & Collectibles Show
Anyone who loves the outdoors and being on the water will want to check out this consumer show for great deals on new and new non-current boats. River’s Edge Convention Center. And while in St. Cloud, check out the Sports Card & Collectibles Show for vintage to new cards and collectibles. Admission is free. Stearns History Museum. 320-255-7272; 612-242-7717

Feb. 19 & 20, Elk River
Shiver Elk River
This community celebration to ward off “cabin fever” includes the Shiver Plunge, Shiver Run 5K Fun Run/Walk, dog sled demos and rides, ice fishing clinic, Make Your Own S’mores, tug of war, live music, family snowmobile ride and outdoor hockey tournaments. On Friday night, head to the Rockwoods Banquet Center for music by the Plott Hounds during Shiver Bash. Lake Orono. 763-441-3110

Northwest Minnesota

Feb. 5 & 6, Bemidji
Lake Bemidji Winterfest
Highlights of the 2016 Lake Bemidji Winterfest include turkey bowling, live music, pond hockey, Curling Bonspiel, Berrrrmidji Plunge, skating, lighted night ski, a Family Formal, family games, and the Hard Water Classic Ice Fishing Tournament. South side of Lake Bemidji. 218-444-3541

Feb. 5-15, Detroit Lakes
Polar Fest
From snowmen and outdoor activities to warm dinners and fireworks, Polar Fest offers something for everyone! Highlights include the Poles ‘N Holes Fishing Derby & pre-party, Polar Fest Plunge, 5K Freeze Your Buns Run, skating with Polar Pete, Daddy’s Little Sweetheart Dance, games in the snow at Detroit Mountain, Polaritaville Dance, and fireworks at the city beach. Lodging specials available. 218-847-9202

Feb. 6, Park Rapids
American Legion Community Ice Fishing Contest
The 18th Annual Park Rapids American Legion Community Fishing Derby and Raffle will be held on Fish Hook Lake. In addition, enjoy a community breakfast and luncheon, awards presentation, and the American Legion Fisherman’s Ball with music by “White Knuckle Willie.” 218-732-3360

Feb. 13, Crookston
Ice Buster Daze
The 13th Annual Ice Buster Daze will feature the popular ice fishing contest and radar runs. Off the ice, enjoy a vintage snowmobile show, dinner and dance! Red Lake River/Central Park. 218-281-4320

Feb. 13 & 14, Akeley
Audrey’s Purple Dream Fishing Tournament
In addition to this annual fishing tournament with prizes, enjoy a Purple Plunge into the frigid waters of 11th Crow Wing Lake, raffle drawings, live music, and residences all decked-out in purple! 218-368-3393

Feb. 18-21, Walker
International Eelpout Festival
For the past 30 years, crowds greater than 10 times the population of Walker gather on Leech Lake for a festival named after one of the ugliest bottom-dwelling fish, the eelpout. Other festivities include opening ceremonies, the Coors Keg Castle, flag ceremony & torch lighting, DJ dance party & karaoke contest, Pre-Pout Party, live music at various venues, a beverage and food tent featuring eelpout nuggets in “goose antler batter,” and eelpout curling! Leech Lake’s Walker Bay. 218-547-1313

Northeast Minnesota

Feb. 4-7, Hovland
Points Unknown Women’s Dog Sledding Adventure 2016
This off-grid adventure is for those who want to actively participate in every aspect of dog sledding including learning to run your own small team of sled dogs on miles and miles of beautiful trails in the remote wilderness of northern Minnesota. 218-370-0283

Feb. 4-14, Ely
Ely Winter Festival & Ely ArtWalk
The main attractions of this 10-day celebration are the International Snow Sculpting Symposium and the Ely ArtWalk. Amateur and professional sculptors from all over participate in the snow sculpting competition, filling Whiteside Park with giant snow sculptures! The Ely ArtWalk exhibits artwork created by more than 250 local visual artists in store windows throughout downtown Ely. Just some of the other festivities include the Great Nordic Beard Fest, Winter Adventure Gear Demo, guided snowshoe hikes to the Hegman Pictographs and Listening Point, Winter Wilderness Whirlwind, birding field trip, and Mush with the Dogs. 218-365-7669

Feb. 6 & 7, Palo/Aurora
Laskiainen Finnish Sliding Festival
Fun-seekers converge on Palo’s Loon Lake Community Center for food, games and sliding down a huge slide during the Laskiainen Finnish Sliding Festival. Free admission with plenty of goodies to purchase. Celebrate Finnish customs at this popular annual event. 218-638-2551

Feb. 12-14, Meadowlands
Sax-Zim Bog Birding Festival
Birders from throughout the U.S. and other countries gather for the 9th Annual Sax Zim Bog Winter Birding Festival, with numerous guided birding tours, speaker presentations, nature walks, photography walks, and more! Complete details. 218-749-8161

Feb. 12-15, Sandstone
Winter Family Escape
Winter Family Escape activities include active fun such as a climbing wall and snow zoo building, educational programs such as Minnesota Mammals and Winter Ways of Native Cultures, winter sports such as cross-country skiing and kick sledding, and quiet activities such as sleigh rides and art activities. Audubon Center of the North Woods. 888-404-7743

Feb. 20, Grand Rapids
Stomping on Winter Family Day
Enjoy winter at the Forest History Center with indoor and outdoor games, sledding, ice skating, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, tours of the logging camp, and more! 218-327-4482


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Minnesota snow conditions provided by White Birch Resort

[Northeast] [Northwest] [Central] [Twin Cities] [Southern]

Temperatures will increase tomorrow, and remain mild through the weekend. The snowstorm earlier this week improved trail conditions throughout the southern one-third of the state, making this weekend ideal for a cross-country ski or snowmobile adventure.

At the time of this report, very good to excellent ski trail conditions could be found at International Falls, Ely, Grand Marais, Two Harbors, Detroit Lakes, New Ulm, Red Wing and Winona. Good to excellent snowmobile trail conditions were reported at Luverne, Albert Lea, Northfield, Orono, Winsted, Garrison, Detroit Lakes, Pine City, Carlton, Two Harbors, Grand Marias and Ely. As always, please call ahead for the most current trail conditions before traveling.

Begin planning your winter getaway! For a customized travel planner, contact one of our travel counselors at 888-VISITMN (888-847-4866), or request a planner at Contact a Travel Counselor.

Subscribe here to receive any or all of our reports by email or RSS/news feed.

Northeast Region

International Falls

The Koochiching State Forest Tilson Creek Ski Trail is groomed, with very good conditions on a 3-4 inch base. Local snow depth ranges from 14-18 inches.

Grand Rapids/Bigfork

The Cow Horn and River Road ski trails running through Golden Anniversary State Forest are groomed and in good condition, with a 4-5 inch base. Local snow depth is roughly 10-12 inches.


Local snow depth is roughly 14-18 inches in the Ely vicinity. The Babbitt Golf Course and Birch Lake Plantation trails are groomed for classic and skate skiing. These trails have a solid base and conditions are described as excellent. More than 3.5 kilometers of classic ski trails are groomed at Bear Head Lake State Park. The trails are in very good condition with a 3-5 inch base. The Tower to Ely section of the Taconite State Snowmobile Trail has been groomed and conditions are reported to be good. The trail base measures 2-4 inches. Similar conditions are reported for the Arrowhead State Snowmobile Trail. Many other area snowmobile trails are in good shape as well. All Ely area lakes have been staked, but there is quite a bit of slush on some lakes. It is recommended that snowmobilers stay on the staked trails to avoid complications.

Grand Marais/Gunflint Trail

In Cook County, just outside of Grand Marais up the Gunflint Trail , most of the Central Gunflint Trail ski trails are groomed and in excellent condition. The trail base measures 9-10 inches on average, with 18-22 inches of snow in the woods. The snowmobile trails in this area are in good shape with an 8-10 inch base. AtCascade River State Park, 4-14 inches of snow covers the ground. The ski trails are fully groomed, with a base measuring 2-8 inches. Conditions are reported to be good. Similar conditions are reported for the snowmobile trails running through Cascade River.

Two Harbors

Very good conditions are reported for Gooseberry Falls State Park ‘s 12 miles of traditional cross country ski trails, with good conditions reported for the 3 miles of snowmobile trails that connect to the North Shore State Trail. The base of these trails measures 4-5 inches, and both have been groomed. Local snow depth is 10 inches.


All ski trails at Jay Cooke State Park have been groomed. The trails have a 7 inch base, and conditions are considered fair. The snowmobile trails also have a 7 inch groomed surface, and conditions are considered good. Local snow depth is 1 foot.

Moose Lake/Pine City

The Matthew Lourey State Trail running through Nemadji State Forest is groomed for snowmobiling, and conditions are considered good. The trail base averages 4 inches with 1 foot of snow on the ground. Most of the Willard Munger State Snowmobile Trail, running between Hinckley and Duluth, is groomed and in good condition. The trail base measures 2-4 inches, with 12-14 inches of snow along the trail.

Northwest Region


Nearly a foot of snow covers the ground at Hayes Lake State Park. Snowmobilers are enjoying the park’s trails, and conditions are reported to be fair.


The Paul Bunyan State Snowmobile Trail is groomed and in fair condition, with a 0-1 inch base. TheHeartland State Trail running through the Walker vicinity is in fair condition for snowmobiling. This trail has a 2 inch base. Snow cover measures roughly 7 inches in this area.

Detroit Lakes

The northern White Earth (200/300) and Chippewa Trail (400) loops of the Winter Wonderland Snowmobile Trails running through Becker County are freshly groomed. The trail base measures 2-3 inches, and conditions are good. Over 250 miles of trails traverse this area, offering views of rolling prairie to secluded woodlands filled with wildlife. Nearby, the Maplelag Resort ski trails are also freshly groomed. Skiers report good to excellent conditions.

Most other ski and snowmobile trails are either in poor condition or remain closed due to a lack of snow.

Central Region

Fergus Falls/Battle Lake

As of Jan. 29, the ski trails at Glendalough State Park were reported to be in excellent condition with a 2 inch groomed surface. Last weekend’s warm temperatures have likely caused the trails to deteriorate — please call ahead for the most current conditions.


Glacial Lakes State Park snowmobile trails are ungroomed and in poor condition, with a 0-1 inch base. Local snow depth is 3-5 inches.


As of Jan. 30, most Mille Lacs-Kathio State Park ski trails were groomed and in good condition, with a 2-3 inch base. The snowmobile trails were also groomed and in good condition. Groomers reported a 2 inch base. A total of 7-8 inches of snow covered the ground.

Most other ski and snowmobile trails are either in poor condition or remain closed due to a lack of snow.

Twin Cities Greater Metropolitan Vicinity


The section of the Luce Line State Snowmobile Trail running between Watertown and the McLeod County Line was groomed Feb. 3, and the section between Stubbs Bay Road and Watertown will be groomed on Feb. 4. Overall, the trail is in good condition with a 2-3 inch base. Roughly 1 foot of snow covers the ground in this area.

Anoka, Carver, Dakota, Hennepin, Scott and Wright counties

Most traditional and classic cross-country ski trails are reported to be in good condition at Baker Park Reserve in Maple Plain, Clearly Lake Regional Park in Prior Lake, Eagle Lake Regional Park in Plymouth, Elm Creek Park Reserve in Maple Grove, French Regional Park in Plymouth, Hyland Lake Park Reserve in Bloomington, and Murphy-Hanrehan Park Reserve in Savage. Please contact the Three Rivers Park Districtfor the most current trail conditions before traveling.

St. Paul

Ski trails running through Fort Snelling State Park are packed and groomed following the snowstorm earlier this week. Conditions are considered good. Local snow depth is 10 inches.

Ramsey County

Ramsey County cross-country ski trails are groomed and in good to excellent condition at Battle Creek Regional Park, Grass Lake, Tamarack Nature Center, and Vadnais-Sucker Lake. The Winter Rental Shack is open at Tamarack Nature Center for ski and snowshoe rentals. Please contact these parks directly for the most current conditions.

Marine on St. Croix – north of Stillwater

The classic and skate ski trails at William O’Brien State Park are freshly groomed, and skiers report good conditions. The trail base averages 4 inches, with 11 inches of snow covering the ground.

Most other ski and snowmobile trails are either in poor condition or remain closed due to a lack of snow.

Southern Region


The ski trails at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park are in fair condition, with an 8 inch base. The trails are ungroomed, but skiers are making their own tracks. The snowmobile trails are groomed, and riders report good conditions on an 8 inch base. Approximately 1 foot of snow covers the ground in this area.

Frontenac -south of Red Wing

Frontenac State Park is covered in 6 inches of snow. The ski trails are packed and tracked, and skiers report good conditions. The trails have a 3 inch base. The snowmobile trails are closed for the season.


All ten miles of Great River Bluffs State Park ski trails have been groomed. The trails have an 8 inch base, and conditions are very good. Local snow depth is roughly 9 inches. Nearby, the Saint Mary’s Ski Trail has been freshly groomed following the recent large snowstorm. The trails are solid and in perfect condition.


While the ski trails at Beaver Creek Valley State Park are not groomed, skiers report good conditions. The trails have a 9 inch base, with approximately 12 inches of snow on the ground.

Albert Lea

The snowmobile trails at Myre-Big Island State Park have been groomed, and riders report good conditions. The trails have a 2 inch base. Local snow depth is roughly 7 inches. The ski trails will not be groomed this year. Snowshoe rental is available at the park office.

New Ulm

Flandrau State Park ski trails are freshly groomed and tracked, and conditions are considered very good. The trails have a 4 inch base in most areas. Roughly 9 inches of snow covers the ground.


The snowmobile trail running through Blue Mounds State Park is reported to be in good condition. The trail has a 12 inch ungroomed surface. Local snow depth is also 1 foot.

Most other ski and snowmobile trails are either in poor condition or remain closed due to a lack of snow.


Explore Minnesota will report winter trail conditions each Thursday during the winter season, with updates as changes in conditions warrant. Information used to compile the Winter Trails Report is provided courtesy of the Minnesota DNR, Voyageurs National Park, the Three Rivers Park District, and communities throughout the state.

Please note that a Snowmobile State Trail sticker is required for all snowmobiles operating on state or grant-in-aid trails. All cross-country skiers on state park or forest ski trails, or on state or grant-in-aid trails, who are 16 years or older must have a Minnesota Ski Pass. For further information, contact the Department of Natural Resources, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at 1-888-646-6367. To order cross-country ski passes and snowmobile trail stickers, dial 1-888-665-4236 or access the DNR Online License Sales web site. To locate a license center in Minnesota to purchase ski passes and snowmobile stickers, check out DNR License Agents.



Visit www.whitebirchresort.net for a luxury vacation home with private hot tubs.

Best Minnesota Resort Vacation

Enjoy a Minnesota vacation at White Birch Resort next summer. The summer season is fast approaching as today is the start of winter.

To book a luxury home visit www.whitebirchresort.net to see which one of the new lake front units will fit your family needs.


Events in Minnesota

Highlights this week include:

Dec. 18, Faribault
Rock the Tree Top

Dec. 3-20, St. Paul
Black Nativity: A Tradition of Love and Light

Dec. 19, Fergus Falls
The Diamonds Holiday Show

Dec. 20, Lake Itasca/Park Rapids
Itasca State Park Winter Bird Count & Beginning Birding with Birds in Your Backyard

Dec. 18-20, Sandstone
Sandstone Ice Festival


[Southern ] [Twin Cities] [Central] [Northwest] [Northeast]

Southern Minnesota

Nov. 27 – Dec. 31, Mankato
Kiwanis Holiday Lights
Walk or drive through a Winter Wonderland for free during the Kiwanis Holiday Lights featuring more than one million LED lights in animated and choreographed displays. Also enjoy the new synthetic skating rink, and visits with Santa and live reindeer on the weekends. And from Dec. 17-19, two ice sculptors will create a lighted 7-foot by 30-foot “Old Man Winter” sculpture in the farm area at Sibley Park. Warming houses and concessions are available. Please bring a non-perishable food item. Sibley Park. 507-385-9129

Dec. 18, Faribault
Rock the Tree Top
There’s a different kind of Santa coming to town! Get ready to Rock the Tree Top this holiday season as beloved holiday classics take on a rock and roll flair. Paradise Center for the Arts. 507-332-7372

Dec. 19, Red Wing
The Tenors Live at Treasure Island

Celebrate the most wonderful time of the year with The Tenors, live at Treasure Island Resort & Casino. 877-849-1640

Dec. 19 & 20, Winona
Trester Trolley Light Tours
The Trester Trolley is a wonderful and relaxing way to view the best residential and commercial Christmas light displays in Winona. 507-429-9101

Dec. 26, Elba/north of St. Charles
Moonlit Owl Prowl
We often hear them calling, but most of us are unfamiliar with the elusive creatures known as owls. After a presentation on native owls, go “prowling” under the full moon for owls in the park. If there is sufficient snowfall, guests will “prowl” by snowshoe — bring your own or borrow a pair from the park. Whitewater State Park. 507-932-3007

Dec. 27, Rochester
Quarry Hill Cave Tour & Historic Hike
Quarry Hill Park was formerly the grounds of the Rochester State Hospital. Learn about some of the Park’s historic structures before a short hike to tour the sandstone storage cave, carved in 1882. The cave is a 10-minute walk from the Visitor Center. Quarry Hill Nature Center. 507-28-3950

Jan. 2, Faribault
Birds, Bagels & Brunch
Enjoy coffee and bagels with the River Bend Nature Center naturalist in the comfort of the interpretive center while observing the birds and other visitors to Windows on the Wild, River Bend’s backyard habitat feeding area. The naturalist will help with bird identification, fun facts, and the use of binoculars and guide books — a great way to start the day! 507-384-3291

Twin Cities Greater Metropolitan vicinity

Nov. 12 – Dec. 27, Minneapolis
A Christmas Carol
A miserly and miserable man, Ebenezer Scrooge greets each Christmas with a “bah humbug” until he is visited one Christmas Eve by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. This holiday tradition returns for its 41st year! Guthrie Theater’s Wurtele Thrust Stage. 612-377-2224, 877-44-STAGE

Nov. 14 – Jan. 10, Minneapolis
A Nordic Christmas: Myths, Legends and Fairytales
Explore the Twin Cities’ only castle and the American Swedish Institute’s beloved Nordic Christmas rooms beautifully decorated for the Christmas season during this iconic Minnesota holiday tradition. Don’t miss the winter myths, legends and fairytales of Sweden, her Nordic neighbors, and Russia. 612-871-4907

Nov. 21 – Feb. 7, St. Paul
Wells Fargo Winter Skate
Skate for free at this festive outdoor ice rink located across from the enchanting lights of Rice Park and the old-world ambiance of the historic Landmark Center. 651-228-1664; 651-292-3225

Nov. 27 – Dec. 20, Minneapolis
This year’s Holidazzle will be held at a new location: Loring Park! In addition to a giant fireworks display and celebration on Friday, Nov. 27, enjoy free ice skating, local art and food vendors, musical performances, and visits from Santa Claus during the holiday season! 612-376-7669; 612-338-3807

Nov. 28 – Dec. 26, Stillwater
BierCycle Caroling Tours
Take part in caroling tours on the BierCycle! Sing along to the holiday classics while pedaling down the streets of downtown Stillwater. Bring hot chocolate (or wine or beer), and lots of holiday cheer! 651-300-2202

Nov. 28 – Feb. 27 (Saturdays), St. Paul
Night Trains
This special holiday tradition features model railroad layouts in a magical setting with lights turned down, buildings and street lights glowing warmly, a make-believe town buried in a blizzard, and miniature Christmas lights and decorations throughout! Santa will arrive Night Trains December 12th and 19thTwin City Model Railroad Museum at Bandana Square. 651-647-9628

Dec. 3-20, St. Paul
Black Nativity: A Tradition of Love and Light
Penumbra’s treasured holiday tradition returns with a focus on compassion, connection, and community. Post-play discussion will be offered Dec. 10 & 17. Penumbra Theatre Company. 651-224-3180

Dec. 6-22, St. Paul
The Chanukah Guest

The Minnesota Jewish Theatre Company’s heartwarming and interactive original commission returns from its sold out world premiere in 2014 to delight audiences once more this holiday season. Based on the book by Eric A. Kimmel. Highland Park Community Center. 651-647-4315

Dec. 10 – Jan. 2, St. Paul
The Sound of Music
The Ordway will come alive this holiday season with the sounds of Rodgers & Hammerstein’s beloved musical classic, The Sound of Music! Full of iconic songs, this timeless story is a blockbuster family event you won’t want to miss! Ordway Center for the Performing Arts. 651-224-4222

Dec. 18-20, Eden Prairie
Russian Nutcracker 2015
The Academy of Russian Ballet presents its 14th annual production of this authentic holiday fairytale. Eden Prairie High School. 612-501-9208

Dec. 19 & 20, Waconia
Winter Wassail Weekend
Celebrate the season by participating in the Winery Wassail Weekend. Your ticket gets you three sample size pours and a souvenir glass from each winery. Select from wine, beer, cider, or wassail. You can visit each winery at your leisure between noon and 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Parley Lake, Sovereign Estate, and Schram Vineyard wineries. 952-446-9957

Dec. 26, St. Paul
Kwanzaa Family Day
This annual family gathering focuses on the seven principles of Kwanzaa, from unity to faith, with engaging and educational activities like music, dancing, demonstrations, art making and storytelling. In honor of Kwanzaa Family Day, Café Minnesota will serve a special entree of spicy chicken gumbo with black-eyed peas and collard greens. Minnesota History Center. 651-259-3000

Dec. 26 – March 5, Eden Prairie
Ice Castles
Visitors will be amazed by this magical collision of ice caves, frozen waterfalls and glaciers formed into towering archways, caverns and tunnels. Miller Park. 888-407-4054

Dec. 27 – Jan. 29, Minneapolis
Till Death Do Us Part Murder Mystery Dinner
Enjoy a night filled with intrigue, deception, and delicious food! The Old Spaghetti Factory. 888-643-2583

Dec. 31, Bloomington
Ramada Rockin’ New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve will be rockin’ at the Ramada with local favorites Brat Pack Radio and Jonah & the Whales! Packages available. Ramada Bloomington Minneapolis Airport Mall. 952-854-3411

Upcoming Twin Cities’ concerts and performances include:
All is Calm at the Pantages Theatre in Minneapolis, Dec. 16-20
Blue Man Group (Touring) at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis, Dec. 18-20
Loyce Houlton’s Nutcracker Fantasy at the Historic State Theatre in Minneapolis, Dec. 18-20
Christmas Queens at the Pantages Theatre, Dec. 22
Trans-Siberian Orchestra at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Dec. 30
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel in Prior Lake, Dec. 31
A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Touring) at the Historic State Theatre, Jan. 5-10, 2016
Williams & Ree at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Jan. 8, 2016
Sesame Street Live: Make A New Friend! at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Jan. 15 & 16, 2016
Christopher Titus at the Pantages Theatre, Jan. 16, 2016
US Figure Skating Championships & Smuckers Skating Spectacular at the Xcel Energy Center, Jan. 1724, 2016
1964: The Tribute at the Ames Center in Burnsville, Jan. 23, 2016
Ronnie Milsap at Mystic Lake Casino Hotel, Jan. 23, 2016
Black Sabbath: The End at the Target Center, Jan. 25, 2016
For more on these and other performances, contact Eventful or Ticketmaster

Central Minnesota

Nov. 26 – Dec. 31 (Wednesday thru Saturday nights), Brainerd
Sertoma Winter Wonderland
This spectacular holiday tradition includes a driving tour of more than 80 colorfully-lit animated displays. Driving tours will be offered nightly from Dec. 21-31, with special walking-only tours Dec. 13 & 20. Northland Arboretum.218-829-8770

Dec 11-26 (Fridays & Saturdays), Brainerd
The Enchanted Village
This free, annual holiday event is a fun family outing for all ages. Take a stroll or ride the wagon through Pioneer Village filled with more than 40 holiday exhibits, inside and out! Also enjoy bonfires, heated areas, hot chocolate and popcorn! Paul Bunyan Land. 218-764-2524

Dec. 18-20, Milaca
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is a holiday dinner theater performance about an annual Christmas pageant overrun by “the worst kids in the history of the world!” Their interpretation of the tale has a lot of people up in arms, but it may be the best pageant ever. Northern Lights Ballroom and Banquet Center. 320-369-4622

Dec. 19, Fergus Falls
The Diamonds Holiday Show
The Diamonds’ newly revamped holiday show, Silver Bells and Diamonds, is a high energy performance of all the holiday favorites. Great musical entertainment for the entire family! A Center For The Arts. 218-736-5453

Dec. 31, St. Cloud
New Year’s Eve with the Fabulous Armadillos
Lite Rock 99.9 brings you New Year’s Eve with The Fabulous Armadillos. Guests will enjoy great live music, as well as drinks, food, dancing, a money machine, and photo booth. River’s Edge Convention Center. 320-255-7272

Northwest Minnesota

Dec. 19, Bemidji
Annual Winter Bird Survey
Lake Bemidji State Park needs volunteers to help with their annual Winter Bird Survey. Travel through hardwood and pine forests either on foot or on skis, depending on snow conditions, and tally the number and types of birds observed. People of all birding abilities accepted, just bring your binoculars and field guides! 218/308-2300

Dec. 19, Detroit Lakes
Family Day at Becker County Museum
Do you have the best sugar cookies around? Enter the Sugar Cookie Contest and you might win an award for best tasting, best decorated, most creative, and more! Decorate a cookie or have one decorated for you for $1. Afterwards, enjoy Photos and Wishes with Santa and a free Wagon Ride at Washington Square Mall. 218-847-2938; 218/847-9202

Dec. 20, Lake Itasca/Park Rapids
Itasca State Park Winter Bird Count & Beginning Birding with Birds in Your Backyard
This holiday season take part in the annual winter bird count. Stay a few hours or spend the whole day exploring Itasca in search of winter bird residents. And early that afternoon, learn some easy tips on how to identify some of the basic birds that might be hanging out at your bird feeder. Itasca State Park. 218-699-7251

Dec. 26, Mahnomen
Hard Days Night – Beatles Tribute Band
Don’t miss this fabulous Beatles Tribute Band as they perform the Beatles most popular songs! Shooting Star Casino. 800-313-7469

Dec. 31 & Jan. 1, Bemidji
History Mystery & Brrrrrrmidji Bike Ride
On Dec. 31, head to the Beltrami History Center and help detectives figure out who killed a brakeman at the Great Northern Depot on New Year’s Eve 1924. Enjoy refreshments, interview suspects, get help from witnesses, and explore the Depot to uncover clues. Historical costumes encouraged. Then on Jan. 1, take part in the 7th Annual New Year’s Day Brrrrrrmidji Bike Ride. Distance and route options are based on weather and the participants’ interest on the day of the ride. Start at the Cabin Coffeehouse & Cafe at 1 p.m. 218-759-0164

Northeast Minnesota

Nov. 21 – Dec. 27, Duluth
Bentleyville “Tour of Lights”
The Bentleyville Tour of Lights is America’s largest free walk-through light show! Stroll under the glow of over 4 million lights in a 20-acre park situated on the shores of Lake Superior, while enjoying complimentary hot cocoa, cookies, popcorn and roasted marshmallows! Other highlights include free visits with Santa Claus, pictures with Rudolph, stories with Mrs. Claus, ice skating, holiday music, and lots of candy canes! 218-740-3535

Nov. 27 – Jan. 3 (Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays), Duluth
Glensheen Christmas Tours

Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the 39-room Glensheen Mansion all decked-out for the holidays! Start your experience with hot cocoa in the Carriage House, take a memorable photo in a cutter sleigh, admire 25 stunning Christmas trees, and sample a Christmas cookie! Complete details. 218-726-8910, 888-454-GLEN

Dec. 18-20, Sandstone
Sandstone Ice Festival

The 11th Annual Ice Climbing Festival celebrates the best of winter adventure sports from ice climbing to skinny skiing, winter camping to shoe shoeing. It is a gathering of kindred spirits who share a love for all things cold and outdoors. Enjoy ice climbing clinics, gear demos, the Great Swap & Swing gear swap, guest speakers, winter camping clinics, skipulk demos, skijoring, dinner at the Sandstone Golf Course, evening social at Rick’s Bar, door prizes & raffle, and the Frozen Kettle Chili Cook-off! 651-302-1774

Dec. 19, Embarrass
Ice Candle Celebration
This Finnish tradition of remembering loved ones during the holiday season includes more than 400 ice candles placed at the Embarrass Cemetery on grave sites and along the driveway for a magical display of light, warmth, and beauty on a cold winter night. Head to the Embarrass Town Hall from 4-6pm for refreshments, crafts, goodies, and possibly a visit from Santa Claus! 218-984-2084

Dec. 26 & 27, Grand Rapids
Northwoods Holiday Fest
Revel in a winter wonderland of family fun with sleigh rides, skiing, ice skating, sledding on Logger’s Mountain, snow sculptures, snowball launching, music and food. Visitors can also tour the historic logging camp under winter conditions. Forest History Center. 218-327-4482

Dec. 27, Silver Bay
Meet the Falcons!
Jackie Fallon of the Midwest Peregrine Society will be at Tettegouche State Park from 10 a.m. until noon to talk about peregrine falcons and introduce guests to live peregrine falcons and other raptors. Tettegouche State Park Visitor Center. 218/353-8809

Dec. 31, Ely
Wolf Family Rendezvous Ring in the New Year with the Ambassador Wolves
Spend New Year’s Eve with your family at the International Wolf Center and learn about the resident wolves, wolf ecology and the role wolves play in the ecosystem. Snowshoe in Superior National Forest looking for wolf and prey tracks, participate in family-focused activities, enjoy a pizza dinner, s’mores, and slumber party-style sleeping in the carpeted auditorium. A continental breakfast will be available in the morning. Families can also opt to take part in the New Year’s Dog Sledding Adventure. International Wolf Center. 218-365-4695

Still looking for ways to enjoy the weekend? Take part in the Checkpoint scavenger hunt which runs through January 31. There are 10 iconic travel destinations to visit throughout the state, and more than $35,000 worth of prizes available. Learn more at checkpointmn.com.

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Minnesota birding report

This is your monthly Explore Minnesota Birding Update.  Happy birding and happy holidays!

December nature notes

December offers us a chance to view vast numbers of North America’s largest waterfowl, the trumpeter swan.  These birds gather in abundance where water continues to flow in the winter. One popular site to view these birds is in Monticello where the Mississippi River flows year round due to a power plant located up river. For directions, and to learn more about these huge, graceful birds, visit the Swan Park-Mississippi Drive web page.

This is also a great time of year to view hundreds of bald eagles that spend the winter in Minnesota. Various sites along the Mississippi River in southeastern Minnesota remain open all winter, attracting eagles to easily accessible fishing spots. Some of the best locations include the city park at Red Wing, Read’s Landing south of Lake City, and areas near Wabasha.Learn more.

Did you know?

This year marks the Audubon Society’s 116th Christmas Bird Count. Counts are held throughout America with dozens in Minnesota alone. Many Christmas bird counts begin this week, and volunteers of all skill levels are needed. Add to a century of citizen science data by signing up for a bird count near you!

You may also want to participate in Project Feeder Watch. Count the birds at your feeder and submit this information to Feeder Watch scientists to help them track bird populations.

Upcoming birding events

Wild River State Park in Almelund will host Feathered Feeder Favorites on Saturday, Dec. 19. Learn how to attract birds and enjoy bird watching from the comfort of your home.

Winter Birds at Afton will be offered Sunday, Dec. 20 at Afton State Park, north of Hastings. Fewer birds are around so this is a great time to begin learning how to identify birds.

Whitewater State Park in Altura will host a Moonlit Owl Prowlon Saturday, Dec. 26. Learn about owls then go “prowling” under the full moon for owls.

On Sunday, Dec. 27, head to Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay for Meet the Falcons where you will learn about peregrine falcons and have a chance to meet peregrines and other raptors.

Rare bird alerts & sightings

Some birds are migrating late because of the extremely mild temperatures so far this season. In fact, as recently as Dec. 15, a pair of common loons were seen on Lakes Harriet and Calhoun.

Check the Duluth/North Shore Rare Bird Alert (RBA) by Jim Lind, and the Northwest Minnesota/Detroit Lakes RBA by Jeanie Joppru for the most recent list of bird sightings.

Tundra swan; photo by Bruce A. Fall

Bald eagles; photo by Gerald Hoekstra

Early morning birders

Great gray owl; by Amanda Burcar-Annis

Common loon
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