Cook County Blog

Our Favorite Minnesota Winter Activities | Visit Cook County

Posted by Visit Cook County MN on 1/19/21 8:12 AM

Our Favorite Minnesota Winter Activities

Cook County, Minnesota is your ultimate destination for Minnesota winter activities. There’s simply no better place to embark on a winter adventure. Things are quieter up here in winter, which means it’s the perfect time to explore. You’ll feel like you have the trails to yourself – which is an absolute must this year. You’ll be able to enjoy the nation’s darkest skies and if you’re lucky, a beautiful show of northern lights. 

Visitors often find the slower pace of winter in Cook County to be a welcome break from the chaos of everyday life among a global pandemic. Up here, you’ll have more time to focus on your family and yourself. 

During these colder months, when we spend more time indoors, we fully embrace the Danish concept of Hygge. It’s the ritual of embracing life’s simple pleasures. Feeling relaxed, cozy and surrounded by the warmth of family, friends, community and fire are perfect embodiments of Hygge. And after staying close to home for the better part of a year because of COVID-19, we’re all a little more in-tune with coziness, comfort and all things Hygge. Our annual Hygge Festival will look different this year, and we hope you’ll celebrate with us in your own way.

It’s a brand new year full of wonder and adventure. We invite you to enjoy it safely with us.

Everything You Need to Know About Our Winter Climate
We get an average of 120 inches of snow each winter. That’s no joke! That means miles upon miles of trails are always in great condition for exploration. Whether you’re on a snowmobile, skis, snowshoes or your own two feet, there are some things you should know about our climate that will ensure your winter adventure is both safe and exhilarating.

We won’t sugarcoat it; winter is cold in Cook County. That’s why so many love this area, but it does present a few challenges. While many days will see average high temperatures from 10-30 degrees Fahrenheit, we also see many days fall below zero. Don’t let that scare you. With the proper gear, you can experience winter safely, no matter the temperature.

Gear We Recommend

  • Warm base layers
  • Insulated outer layers
  • Quality gloves or mittens
  • Winter boots
  • A face mask for indoor activities

Download the Winter Packing Checklist

Our Favorite Outdoor Winter Adventures
There’s truly no shortage of fun things to do during winter in Cook County. If you’re interested in trying something new, our region is the perfect place to learn. Some of our favorite outdoor winter adventures are easily accessible throughout Cook County.

Cross Country Skiing
Whether you’ve been skiing since you were able to walk, or you’ve never strapped on a pair of skis, Cook County is the perfect place to embark on a cross-country ski adventure. Our region is home to the nation’s largest cross-country ski trails network – and we welcome you to explore every kilometer. With over 400km at your disposal, you may be here a while! 

Cross country skiing is an affordable and fun adventure for the whole family. Pick up a Minnesota State Ski Pass for as little as $10/day or $25/year, or try one of the privately maintained trails on the Gunflint Trail.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Lutsen Mountains is the premier downhill ski and snowboard recreation area in the Midwest. With over 1,000 feet of vertical spread across four mountains, you won’t find this kind of thrill anywhere nearby. Lutsen Mountains has 95 runs – ranging from bunny hills to double black diamonds – to keep you, or the entire family, busy all weekend long.

COVID-19 has impacted operations, but Lutsen has taken care to adjust to ensure a safe and fun experience for all. Check out Lustsen’s COVID-19 & Safety page for more detail.

Snowshoeing in Cook County is one of the most incredible ways to explore our dramatic landscape. You’ll be able to reach more remote places than you could on foot and can explore deeper into the wilderness where the ground may be covered in feet of fresh snow. 

Many trails, including the Superior Hiking Trail, remain open year-round. Take the opportunity to strap on a pair of snowshoes and explore miles of trails this winter. Our favorite time to get out on the trails is early in the morning after an overnight snowfall, just as the sun rises above the horizon. 

Did you know you could make the trek from Duluth to Grand Marais by snowmobile? Winding through rural, north shore towns and quiet wilderness areas, the C.J. Ramstad/North State Trail will take you the whole way. Keep heading north to Grand Portage and explore 100+ miles of pristine trails. It’s an adventure you’ll never forget. Over 450 miles to explore. Need we say more?

Fat Tire Biking
If you listen closely enough, you can probably hear the low humming of fat tire bikes cruising through Cook County. We can certainly tell that fat tire biking is taking the sport by storm. They’re all over, and for good reason. Riding on the snow is just plain fun. No mincing words there. Plain and simple F-U-N. As you plan your trip, bookmark our biking page for up-to-date trail conditions and winter biking maps.

The Ultimate Winter Vacation Packing Checklist
There’s a Minnesota winter adventure for everyone in Cook County. Plan your trip today. We’d be happy to have you! But before you go, make sure you pack everything you need to stay safe and warm. 

Download our Winter Vacation Packing Checklist for additional tips and ideas to make sure your winter adventure is the best experience it can be.

Download the Winter Packing Checklist