LIGHT UP YOUR LIFE
When you visit Lake of the Woods you are about as far north as you can get and still be in the continental U.S. Located north of the 48th parallel and away from urban light and air pollution, Minnesota’s True North offers a panoramic view of the Aurora Borealis or “Northern Lights.” They can be a virtual light show on practically any clear evening.
This nighttime drama is a natural phenomenon. During peak sunspot activity, charged particles are thrown far out into space and are carried to the earth’s atmosphere by the solar wind. The particles then interact with the earth’s magnetic field in the polar regions.
The colors in the northern lights are not a continuous spectrum, but a few separate colors such as red, violet, blue, and green. The first indication of a northern lights display is a faint glow low on the horizon. After a while an arch of light is lit. It can stretch all over the sky. Rays of light and “draperies” are formed with curls and waves. The draperies appear as if they are flickering or dancing in the wind. Sometimes the rays will stretch out in all directions above your head. This occurrence is called the aurora corona and will fill any onlooker with a hushed sense of awe.
A great place to check them out is along Highway 11 which is also known as the Waters of the Dancing Sky Scenic Byway.
If there is not a ballad about the Rainy River, there should be. It has a music all its own. In the spring, when the ice breaks, a variety of birds will follow the pattern all the way to the mouth where the river meets the majestic Lake of the Woods. Gushing whitewater at Manitou Rapids and Clementson Rapids are mesmerizing and yield a great photo opportunity.
The Clementson Rapids are located eight miles east of Baudette on Highway 11. Every spring and summer the Rapid River, a tributary of the Rainy River, empties its contents over the Clementson Rapids. The rapids are a beautiful place for a picnic, with tables and campfire spots available at the site.
BLUEBERRY HILL STATE FOREST
Blueberry Hill State Forest is located 3.5 miles west of Williams on the south side of Highway 11. The site is one of the highest points of elevation in the county. This, along with the sandy soil of the site, makes it one of the first spots for the snow to melt in the spring. Blueberry plants are abundant in the Jack pine forest and they are free for the picking. In addition to the blueberries, there is an abundance of wildlife in the area. Picnic tables and campsites are also available.
WILDERNESS AREAS FOR WILDLIFE VIEW, SEASONAL BERRY PICKING AND MUSHROOMING!
Northern Minnesota has an abundance of seasonal berries. Lake of the Woods County has hundreds of thousands of acres of public land in the Beltrami Island State Forest, Blueberry Hill, Zippel Bay State Park, and Red Lake Wildlife Management Area. The season may vary slightly, due to the yearly weather conditions. Typically, a warmer spring and summer will mean that the berries will ripen more quickly, but a late frost will often ruin the berries when they are setting fruit. Lack of adequate rainfall will often mean a poor harvest. Before venturing into the wild. Approximate harvest times for local berries: blueberries, mid-to end of July; chokecherries, mid-August; June berries, mid-July; high bush cranberries, September; huckleberries, mid-to end of July; pin cherries, mid July; and raspberries, July.
EDIBLE MUSHROOMS IN AREA
Morel mushrooms are one of the most highly prized fungi in Minnesota, and in fact, they are our state mushroom! Morels can be found in the early spring and although the dates may vary, early May through the end of the month is the time for harvesting these mushrooms. These fungi seem to grow best in the ruins of dead elm trees, however, they also thrive in damp aspen woods. Before eating any wild mushrooms, it’s best to consult at least two field guides to verify the species. There is a false morel that is poisonous.
**KNOW THE DIFFERENCE! The false morel looks very much like the edible, but there are a couple differences to tell the two apart. The easiest way to tell, is by slicing the morel vertically. The edible mushroom will be hollow as the false morel will be solid through.
RED LAKE WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA
This immense wilderness area encompasses 250,461 acres of land and is Minnesota’s largest WMA. Wildlife abounds here and nearly 200 species of birds have been identified in the area which also serves as a research site for moose populations. The Wildlife Management Area Headquarters is located at historic Norris Camp. To get there from Roosevelt, turn south on County Road 141 and follow the signs to the WMA’s headquarters where comprehensive maps are available. No fees or permits are required for recreational use and the WMA is open year around.
PINE ISLAND STATE FOREST
Pine Island State Forest is the largest State Forest Area in Minnesota with 878,040 acres included in its borders, which include portions of Lake of the Woods and Koochiching counties. This forest offers wildlife watchers an incredible opportunity to observe the local flora and fauna of the area. Snowmobile and hiking trails and picnic areas are all available to enjoy in this vast forested wilderness. The State Forest is located in the southeast sections of Lake of the Woods County. You can obtain a comprehensive forest trail map from the DNR Forestry Division or local information centers. Pine Island State Forest is also home to an endangered bird species. See more HERE.
BELTRAMI ISLAND STATE FOREST
With 669,000 acres of land within its boundary, Beltrami Island State Forest offers visitors unparalleled access to remote forested areas, wilderness trails and streams. The forest covers land in three counties: Lake of the Woods, Roseau, and Beltrami. No fees or permits are required for recreational use and the forest is open year round. Obtain a map from any information center, or the DNR.
BAUDETTE SCHOOL FOREST
The Baudette School Forest is 80 acres of wooded property with thick stands of Jack pine, balsam, birch and aspen with a small watercourse running throughout the property. The School Forest is also a favorite blueberry-picking destination during the summer months. From Baudette, follow Highway 11 west to Pitt, turn south on county Rd. 66 and follow to County Rd. 69, watch for the Baudette School Forest sign.
To order additional information Click Here or call 1-800-382-FISH.