Save the Date for Winter Tracks Festival in Cook County

Winter won’t “officially” arrive until December 21, but it sure feels like winter is here. It’s snowy, it’s cold, and people are complaining about the weather every morning. (It’s the Minnesotan thing to do! “Hot enough for ya? Cold enough for ya?” We can rarely seem to find a happy medium.)

I have found, through trial and error, that in order to survive winter, you not only have to own really warm winter boots and insulated long underwear, but you also have to adopt a warrior mentality. You can enjoy winter if you are dressed appropriately (always better to layer too much than to risk getting cold) and if you find some wintertime activities that get you out of the house. If you don’t find ways to join the outside world from December through March, you will start going stir crazy in January, making for a long, cold, miserable winter season.

One of the best winter festivals in Minnesota is the Winter Tracks Festival in Cook County, encompassing the communities of Lutsen-Tofte-Schroeder, Grand Marais,the Gunflint Trail, and Grand Portage. The Festival doesn’t start until Friday, January 31 (my birthday!), so you have plenty of time to reserve a room, plan your itinerary, and—one of the best parts of a mini getaway—build anticipation and excitement.

The Winter Plein Air painting outdoor exhibit kicks off the festival with a reception on Friday (breathe in that crisp, clean North Woods air), followed by Saturday’s events: the Ridge Riders Snowmobile Fun Run, Family Olympic games, and a torchlight ski parade.

The following weekend brings the Snow Sculpture Tour (the theme this year is Lake Superior and boreal animals; register by submitting a drawing of your ‘snowtivity’ by January 15) and the Snowarama Snowmobile Ride.

Cook County really is one of the best places to “do winter,” averaging 120 inches of snow per year, and is home to 400 km of groomed cross-country ski trails (the biggest network in North America), 450 miles of snowmobile trails, and 1,000 acres of downhill skiing and snowboarding at Lutsen Mountains. For more information, check out