The best part of winter
With plenty of snow, longer days, and lots to do, February is a great month to enjoy the North Country

Recent snowfalls have the North Country finally wearing a healthy coating of white just in time for the peak of the winter fun season.

Unlike other parts of the U.S., where winter is mostly an occasional nuisance, winter in the Northland is a full-body experience that most residents embrace with real enthusiasm.

Here, where we can usually rely on months of good snow conditions, winter recreation— from snowmobiling to skiing, from mushing to snowshoeing— is huge, and not just for local residents. The North Country draws winter enthusiasts from around the world. More than 130 visitors recently turned out to test their mettle in the Arrowhead Ultra, a punishing 135-mile marathon where participants actually hope for the kind of brutal cold for which our area is famous. This year, rather than subzero temperatures and windchills, Mother Nature delivered nearly a foot of snow along portions of the route, which was more than most racers could handle. But that’s part of the North Country experience.

As we enter the month of February, winter lovers in our area have plenty to anticipate.

Ely’s annual Winter Festival got underway on Friday and runs through Feb. 10. Snow sculptors have finished their work and Whiteside Park is alive with their imaginative creations. The Art Walk, held in conjunction with the festival, is another opportunity for a productive stroll through the winter streets of Ely.

And there’s plenty more to come. Ice fishing fans will want to mark the Orr Chamber of Commerce’s annual ice fishing contest on Pelican Lake on their calendars. It’s set for Feb. 16, and ends with a fireworks display.

The following Saturday, Feb. 23, the Lake Vermilion Guides League will sponsor a Take-a-Kid Ice Fishing event, which drew lots of enthusiastic participants last year for a fun and free day of fishing.

And don’t forget the annual Winter Blast and Polar Plunge, also set for Feb. 23, at Bay View Lodge. It’s always entertaining and it helps raise money for the United Way of Northeastern Minnesota.

And last, but certainly not least, the Wolftrack Classic Sled Dog Race is set for Feb. 23-24. The race has been modified a bit this year, which should make it more spectator friendly than in past years, so check it out to show your support for this traditional North Country competition.

Of course the best part about February in these parts is the return of the light and the gradual moderation of temperatures. We gain one hour and 27 minutes of daylight in the month of February, giving us more than 11 hours of light by month’s end. That’s more time for enjoying all that a North Country winter has to offer.

With great snow conditions, and more snow in the forecast, there’s no excuse for cabin fever this winter. There’s just too much to do—so get out, get active, and take advantage of our great winter weather.

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