Snowy Season in Cook County, Minnesota

Photos courtesy of Samantha Hanson/Visit Cook County
Photos courtesy of Samantha Hanson/Visit Cook County

With Winter right around the corner, Minnesotans might be asking themselves for some of the best attractions of the snowy season. The search is over: look no further than Cook County, Minnesota! Brimming with natural beauty, and full of delightful activities, Cook County is the perfect place to visit during the warm and cold months, but the winter holds a magical charm found nowhere else on earth.

Cook County is packed with exciting things to do, including one of the biggest attractions of the area: the Lutsen Mountains. These mountains are a jaw-dropping sight to behold, with 1,088 feet of vertical rise, nearly double that of any other Midwest resort, ninety-five runs, sweeping over four mountains, for skiing or snowboarding, and an average annual snowfall of ten feet. Cook County is actually home to the largest network of cross-country ski trails in North America, as well, if that’s more your speed. Cross-country ski through the gorgeous, peaceful Superior National Forest, or in and around the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Another exhilarating activity to enjoy in the area is following one of the 450 miles of snowmobiling trails. From your snow mobile, you can explore the beauty and solitude of the wilderness, as well as see the stunning views of Lake Superior. Interested in a more stationary activity, but with all the same satisfaction? 

Come inland to one of Cook County’s many frozen lakes for ice fishing. There you can reel in trophy-sized lake trout, walleye, northern pike, and crappies. Snowshoe across the pristine snow (an average of 120 inches annually) and enjoy the activities and sights of the beautiful outdoors, and then finish off your day at one of the cozy local coffee shops, breweries, or restaurants, with a freshly caught fish dinner. Booking a visit to a local sauna is also a wonderful way to practice hygge (a Danish word, pronounced hoo-gah), which celebrates the ritual of relaxation and life’s other simple pleasures of warmth, community with loved ones, and fire.

Cook County, Minnesota has more to offer than fun activities, it’s also one of the most beautiful places on the planet. With magnificent views, Cook County boasts ideal winter conditions much longer than the rest of the state. Snowfall usually beginning in early November, and the white blanket covers the ground until mid-April. Cook County has been described as a real-life Narnia, with the Superior National Forest being a truly breathtaking sight in the winter, a picturesque tableau with its fresh coat of snow and sea smoke dancing off of the nearby frozen lake. 

Visitors will also be delighted to spot a moose, which is almost impossible to find anywhere else in the state, or another striking wildlife. Foxes, coyotes, and wolves also inhabit the wilderness, and their dark fur is especially stark against the ocean of white snow carpeting the earth. The sights don’t stop at the lovely snow on the ground, however, or the animals who leave tracks in it. For another magical view, simply look up to see one of the darkest skies in the world. 

The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a certified International Dark Sky Sanctuary, one of only fifteen in the entire world, and with over a million acres of heavens to gaze, it is the largest. Facing into the vastness of space with such a clear view allows visitors to see the Milky Way Galaxy, incredible meteors, and countless constellations, all in the soft quietness of winter. The crowned jewel of the skies, however, would have to be Cook County’s view of the Northern Lights, an powerful, moving sight like no other, and a common bucket list item. 

Cook County perfectly balances the charm of a small town with open-minded and friendly locals. LGBTQ visitors are welcomed with open arms all times of the year. It is the perfect intersection of serenity and peace, while also managing to buzz with activities and events, including the Dark Sky Festival, a celebration of Cook County’s world-class dark sky and a lineup of presentations and activities. NASA is set to present “From Iceland to the Moon: Working with NASA Scientists and Astronauts in the Land of Fire and Ice” on December 8th, at Gunflint Lodge, and “Building on Apollo and Preparing for Artemis with NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter” on December 10th, at the Grand Marais Art Colony’s Studio 21. 

Cook County also is excited to have several other fun events, like Holiday Art Underground, which hosts local artists’ hand-made pottery, jewelry, woodcuts, and more, every Thursday-Saturday from November 25th-December 31st, and a Culture Crawl, hosted by Cook County Historical Society/Historic Cook County on December 2nd and 30th. Many more events can be found on the Visit Cook County website events page,

Enjoy yourself this winter: treat yourself to the dazzling marvels and thrilling happenings of Cook County, Minnesota!

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