DNR Events: Snowshoe hikes, Free Fishing Weekend, virtual nature programs

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DNR Events - February 2021

sun setting over snowy pine forest

Here are a few ways to get out and enjoy Michigan’s natural and cultural resources in February. For a full list of events, see the Department of Natural Resources calendar at Michigan.gov/DNRCalendar. As always, safety is key when on or near the ice! Get safety tips at Michigan.gov/IceSafety.

Enjoy Free Fishing Weekend Feb. 13 and 14

little girl ice fishing and holding up her catch

For two days twice a year, families and friends can enjoy one of Michigan's premier outdoor activities – fishing – for free!

This year’s winter Free Fishing Weekend dates are Feb. 13 and 14.

All fishing license fees will be waived those two days. A Recreation Passport will not be required for entry into state parks and boating access sites during Free Fishing Weekend. Residents and out-of-state visitors may enjoy fishing on both inland and Great Lakes waters for all species of fish. All fishing regulations will still apply.

New to winter fishing? Learn more about ice fishing basics.

For printable certificates to celebrate a child's first fish or a big fish, or for more information about Free Fishing Weekends, visit Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.

Take in Michigan’s winter beauty on pair of snowshoes

group of people snowshoe hiking through forest

Looking for a fun way to explore our state’s scenic outdoors this winter, and get some exercise while you’re at it? We’re offering several guided snowshoe hikes in February:

Tahquamenon Falls State Park Upper Falls guided snowshoe hike: Feb. 6, 13, 20 and 27
Strap on your snowshoes (or borrow a pair of ours) and join the park naturalist for a free guided hike through the forest of the Upper Falls. Hike lasts approximately one hour and includes blazing a trail through unpacked trails, and going up and down hills. The hike is suitable for ages 9 and up. Masks must be worn during hike. Registration is required, and participation will be limited to 20. Register for a Tahquamenon Falls snowshoe hike online.

Hartwick Pines State Park guided snowshoe hikes: Feb. 13 and 27, March 13
Enjoy a guided tour through the old-growth forest. Hear about the men and women who worked in the logging camps during the White Pine Logging Era and about the wildlife and trees that live and grow at Hartwick Pines State Park. Depending on the snow conditions, snowshoes may not be needed. Registration is required, and participation is limited. Register for a Hartwick Pines snowshoe hike online or contact the Hartwick Pines Visitor Center for more information.

If you’re interested in a self-guided snowshoe adventure, check out our snowshoeing page.

Learn ins and outs of ice fishing

Man ice fishing and holding up his catch

Winter is a great time to fish, and the DNR Outdoor Skills Academy can help boost your ice fishing know-how with upcoming Hard Water School classes.

The classes will be held outdoors at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center, located in Mitchell State Park in Cadillac.

Advanced Hard Water School: Feb. 5-7
This mixed virtual/on-ice class will cover more advanced ice fishing skills. Each participant will pick a specific topic of interest and be assigned a pro fisherman. The first, virtual lesson will include gearing up, rigging and preparing to fish in detail, with the following two days of instruction spent on the ice and fishing. Cost is $75, which includes a box lunch Saturday and Sunday, bait and door prizes/goodie bags.

Hard Water School: Feb. 20 and March 6
This one-day, introductory class on ice fishing will focus on techniques for pan fish, walleye and pike. It will cover everything from how to set up equipment and how, where and when to fish, to ice safety and rules and regulations. Cost is $35, which includes one-on-one instruction from a pro, lunch on the ice, bait and a goodie bag.

Participation for all classes is limited to 20 students, and COVID-19 safety protocols will be followed.

For more details and to register for classes, visit Michigan.gov/OutdoorSkills.

Learn about cold-blooded critters and creating backyard habitat with virtual programs

snake in a glassed-in cage

Join the DNR Outdoor Adventure Center online this winter to learn something new with Zoom programs everyone can enjoy. These virtual programs will be a combination of live presentation, video and time for Q&A.

Meet our Cold-Blooded Critters: Feb. 11 at 7 p.m.
Have you ever wondered how different cold-blooded critters, such as reptiles or amphibians, make it through Michigan’s winters? Visit us virtually in our critter room while observing some of our live, cold-blooded friends, where we will talk more about what they would be doing this time of year if they were out in the wild – and when and where you might expect to notice them this coming spring. Register for Meet our Cold-Blooded Critters.

Create a Backyard Habitat: Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.
Spring is coming soon – now is a great time to start planning your garden and landscape! This year, consider adding some wildlife habitat to your garden and yard. Creating a space for a variety of birds, insects and amphibians is not only fun and rewarding, but can provide many benefits to your yard, such as pollination and natural pest control. This virtual presentation will offer many simple ways that you can add elements of wildlife habitat – such as native plantings, pollinator homes and other wildlife-friendly features. Register for Create a Backyard Habitat.

Explore abundant options for winter fun

From cross-country skiing to fat-tire biking to birding – and even luge – Michigan offers plenty of ways to get outdoors and beat the winter blues. Explore winter activities, find events and get tips on gear, rentals and more at Michigan.gov/WinterFun.

Find accessible recreation opportunities

People of all abilities can enjoy Michigan's wealth of natural and cultural resources. You can find a variety of accessible recreation opportunities around the state and throughout the year at Michigan.gov/DNRAccessibility.