If there's a golden lining to that bitterly cold mass of Arctic air that invaded the Eastern half of the country earlier this week, it's the rock-hard ice to be found at Voyageurs National Park.
Park officials, in their weekly trails report, say the purple and yellow snowmobile trails leading up to Kettle Falls along Rainy Lake and Namakan Lake are open and staked. The green trail from Rainy Lake/Black Bay to Kabetogama Lake, Ash River, and Crane Lake is open and staked. All other snowmobile trails are closed at this time, but ice checking continues throughout the park.
You're asked to remember the snowmobile speed limit within the park is 45 mph on frozen lake surfaces and 25 mph on all overland portages. Speed limit signs are posted at trailheads and overland portages.
"With the cold temperatures, the slush conditions have healed up very well," park officials say, "but there are now sections of frozen slush along the trails that make them rough in spots, so use caution when traveling along lake surfaces and trails."
The Rainy Lake Ice Road is open to the Black Bay Ski Trail.
To reduce hazards to snowmobile users, all ice blocks pulled up for ice fishing are to be immediately chopped up, submerged, or hauled to land. Placement of equipment or any type of structure must be greater than 50 feet off the edge of all ice roads and 50 feet off the centerline of all snowmobile trails. Written authorization from the park is required for individuals to plow greater than 300 feet on any lake surfaces within the park.
All snowshoe trails are open. Echo Bay, Black Bay, and Tilson Connector ski trails are now all open, packed, and tracked.
The Rainy Lake Visitor Center is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 pm. During business hours, the visitor center offers maps, information, hot cocoa, snowshoe loans, and cross-country ski rentals.