Make the Most of Winter ❄️ ❄️

Having trouble viewing this email? View it as a Web page.

parks and rec


Winter Icons Banner

February 2022

Stay, season of calm love and soulful snows!
There is a subtle sweetness in the sun,
The ripples on the stream's breast gaily run,
The wind more boisterously by me blows,
And each succeeding day now longer grows. 

From "To Winter" by Claude McKay

A black boy and his dad walking on snow and smiling at each other with love.

Enjoy the Great Outdoors Year Round

There's something magical about being part of the natural snow globe Minnesota becomes in the winter. The sun reflecting on snow-covered trees gives everything a special glow. A full moon illuminates the trails. And stars are in full display on clear nights, away from the city lights.  

Choose your activity to enjoy everything this season has to offer. Head to a state park or trail to experience the wonder of winter.

Graphic reading "destinations."

Into the Great Wide Open

Man standing in the center of a beautiful winter scene with the Northern Lights in the background

Observe the starry sky from state forestlands. PHOTO: Travis Novitsky.

Look up!

Experience the northern lights and glittering starlight at Buffalo River State Park or Zippel Bay State Park, or at one of the many state forests in northeast Minnesota.

great gray owl in snowy forest

Many great gray owls from Canada spend the winter at Big Bog State Recreation Area and other bogs in northern Minnesota. PHOTO: Joni Welda

Look for wildlife, stealthily and respectfully

Sketch of wildlife observed on a winter day at Fort Snelling State Park.

Try reading mammal tracks in the snow to discover what animals are present — perhaps white-tailed deer, red fox, coyotes, or even bobcats, fishers and timber wolves. Look for wolf tracks at Bear Head Lake State Park and for wild turkeys and white-tailed deer at Fort Snelling State Park. Golden eagles take shelter in the wooded valleys of Whitewater State Park, while otter and moose roam Grand Portage State Park

A number of boreal and arctic bird species arrive in Minnesota for the winter, such as dark-eyed juncos, horned larks, Lapland longspurs, golden eagles and great grey owls. Get a bird checklist and a pair of binoculars and head out for winter birding.

Explore at dusk and dawn when wildlife are most active. Use binoculars to watch from a distance, moving slowly and quietly while scanning the edges of forests and fields, pond margins and treetops. More wildlife and nature viewing tips

Read a seasonal guide to wildlife viewing at state parks and trails.

ART: Amy Barrett

Bison heard standing on snowed field, with one bison looking at the camera.

Bison of the Prairie

The Minnesota DNR partnered with the Minnesota Zoo to raise and manage a herd of bison with the healthiest genetics possible called the Minnesota Bison Conservation Herd. Visit the bison herds at Minneopa State Park and Blue Mounds State Park

Don't let the next snowstorm catch you off-guard. Get your ski pass.

Tips graphic

Photographing Waterfalls

DNR photographer Deb Rose shares some pro tips to get those Instagram-ready winter postcards.

Partly frozen waterfalls with pine tree on the side

To capture that silky, ribbon effect of frozen waterfalls, you want to use a long exposure, which means you'll set a low shutter speed. Start with a shutter speed of 1/30 or slower and let the camera determine the aperture. The aperture determines how much light enters your camera. Higher f-stops are ideal, enabling slower shutter speeds. You can determine if you need or want a slower shutter speed. Experiment with your aperture and shutter speed combinations, until you are happy with the result. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder!


📷 A camera that allows you to override ISO, shutter speed and aperture settings. Phone apps can add functions so you can manage these settings on your phone camera.

* A tripod, to prevent camera shake on the long exposure.

Extra batteries stowed in a warm pocket, as batteries drain fast in cold weather.

Optional equipment

* Polarizing filter to help remove reflections and reduce the amount of light entering your camera, enabling longer exposures.

* Neutral density (ND) filter - to cut light. The denser the filter, the longer the exposure time. 

* Remote shutter control – to avoid camera shake and blurry images. 

After shooting in cold weather, put your camera in a plastic bag making sure it’s airtight before going inside. Condensation will form on the bag rather than inside your camera as it becomes acclimated to the warmer temperature.

Out and about with image of a hiker

The faces and stories of our visitors and staff.

Restoring Prairies in Winter

Frost seeding in winter

Minnesota State Parks restores about 400 acres of prairie annually. The Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund helps accelerate these efforts with funding to restore over 500 acres of prairie/pollinator habitat and establish 10 educational pollinator plantings.

During winter, park staff work to restore prairies by frost seeding.  The freeze/thaw action of the soil helps draw the seed into the ground. 

PHOTO Frost seeding at Upper Sioux Agency State Park.

Safety Header

Dog Days of Winter

Explore the great outdoors with your furry friends, while keeping these safety tips in mind:

Two Millennial women ice fishing. Brown dog is sitting by them.
  • Avoid thin ice that can easily crack and create an unsafe situation for you and your pet.
  • Protect your dog’s paws from cold surfaces with dog boots, paw protectors or paw balm. 
  • Trim foot fuzz to prevent ice balls from forming between pads and toes.
  • Clean your dog’s feet to keep deicing substances from damaging paw pads.
  • Limit your dog’s time outside to prevent frostbite, especially on delicate earflaps and tail tips.
  • Always keep your dog on a leash no longer than six feet when exploring parks, trails and nature areas. Dogs may react unpredictably when encountering other humans, dogs or wildlife.
From the MCV Archives

Snowmobiles, Snowshoes, and Big Brook Trout

Snowmobiler seen from the back heading into a frozen lake.

Julie Collman and Bob Baker snowmobile toward the edge of the BWCA. From there, they’ll hike into the wilderness, on the hunt for lake trout. PHOTO: Michael Dvorak

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer

When winter drags on, these ice anglers heed the call of the wild. Full story.

Minnesota Conservation Volunteer is a print magazine dedicated to Minnesota’s wild places and creatures. For more stories, visit or subscribe.

Icon shows fishing, birds, and a tree. Text reads: "#MyMNOutdoorAdventure. Sharing the stories that connect us."

What's YOUR Adventure?

Millennial Asian couple in snowy prairie lifting feet with snowshoes and laughing.

#MyMNOutdoorAdventure aims to highlight the stories of all the Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) who recreate in the great Minnesota outdoors. There are many ways to get outside and enjoy nature and we want to hear yours. Share your story and photos to be featured on the Minnesota DNR's website and social media channels!

Celebrate the diversity of Minnesota’s outdoor spaces and opportunities for adventure by sharing your story with us.