Lake of the Woods Ice Patterns

Ice patterns vary year to year due to any kind of weather change. However, Lake of the Woods has seen common trends for the planning of each year, and resorts keep close track of them. There is always the exception to the rule, but here are some basic guidelines for you ice trip adventure.

On average, bays freeze over before the rest of the lake due to shallower waters and sometimes less current. Mid to late November is when the ice will initially start to freeze over. By the later November dates, resorters will start to check ice on foot; stabbing the ice with a metal rod to check thickness. It takes a couple weeks to thicken, especially if the days are a little warmer, usually by the 2nd week of December ATV’s and snowmobile traffic is safe for travel. Safety is most important so it is always a good idea to work with a resort to find the safest areas. They will always have the best path staked for convenience. After that, it isn’t long before cars and trucks are on the lake, usually between Christmas and New Year’s.

Resorts will start to place permanent day houses, using light rigs to transport them, with as little as 6-8 inches of ice. Wheeled houses are heavier and require a full foot of ice before resort will safely let them out through their accesses. Zippel Bay Resort waits until there is 2 full feet of ice before they bring out and set up the Igloo Bar. The goal is usually by New Year’s Eve to have it out.

As quickly as comes in, it can go out. The rainy River is usually the first to thaw East towards Big Fork. After that it can travel the 50+ mile trek to Baudette in a matter of 2 weeks. To learn more about ice out, check out our LOW ICE OUT HISTORY article.

ice safety guide


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