Fight the Winter Blues

by Katie Nyberg, Executive Director, Mississippi River Fund

Ah, January, the month when it seems like everyone you know is jetting off to Florida or Mexico to escape the weather. Like many parents in Minneapolis, I am working from home today because school is closed due to dangerously cold temperatures. While I understand the decision by the school to protect our kids, I am also struck by how cold weather doesn’t ever seem to stop our park employees. Just yesterday, I witnessed ranger Allie and a team of volunteers pack up to survey otter activity at the river. Several hours later, they returned, partially frozen and elated with the number of otter tracks and slides right in the heart of the metro.

Volunteers Kinnell Tacket and Katy Goodwin survey otter activity on the river.

This Saturday is Winter Trails Day at Fort Snelling State Park. Each year, regardless of the temperature, Ranger Brian and his crack team of volunteers are out there at Winter Trails Day with giant saws literally sawing off big sheets of ice on the river to demonstrate ice harvesting. Modern conveniences (like the refrigerator!) have saved most of us from working outside every day in harsh conditions, but it doesn’t mean Minnesotans are sitting around by the fire all day. Our nearly combative attitude towards the month of January is expressed in some of our community’s most cherished events—from the City of Lakes Loppet to Winter Carnival to Crashed Ice.

Ranger Brian and a brave volunteer harvest ice on Winter Trails Day

Let’s all be proud Minnesotans and get outside this winter. We’ll impress our friends and family from around the country with our heartiness and zest for outdoor recreation. Together with the park, we’ve got several winter events for you in the coming weeks. Check out a complete list at

Not inspired yet? Check out this short video, then plan your next park visit…

We hope to see you outside soon!