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Spanning the border from Minnesota into the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Manitoba, Lake of the Woods is an enormous body of water over 68 miles long, 59 miles wide, with 25,000 miles of shoreline.
The western part of the lake is mostly open water, while the eastern part is dotted with more than 14,500 islands inhabited by bear, moose, bald eagles, and other wildlife. The shoreline of Lake of the Woods increases to 65,000 miles with inclusion of its mind-boggling number of islands. About one-third of the lake’s 950,400 acres are in Minnesota.
A glacial lake remnant, Lake of the Woods has been around for thousands of years, though modern human contact wasn’t initiated until 1688.
Jacques De Noyon, an explorer from Quebec, was the first white man to set sight on this beautiful lake. After his arrival, there are no further recorded expeditions before 1732, when Pierre La Verendrye and 50 of his men came to the lake. At that time, the northern Minnesota portion was populated by Assiniboine, Cree, Monsonis, and Sioux Native American tribes.
Lake of the Woods things to do
Lake of the Woods is so large that it is necessary to pick a part of the lake and stick to it. Popular activities on the lake include fishing, boating swimming, canoeing, kayaking and tubing; hiking, cross-country skiing, birding, and wildlife watching are very popular off water.
Everyone’s a winner here, though, and the lake offers myriad outdoor activities for nature lovers. Begin your trip with a hike on one of the lake’s nature trails, the shoreline is riddled with meandering paths, challenging terrain, and manicured trails designed to provide you awesome views and breathtaking vistas.
Wind your way through acres of wildflowers, pick berries, and watch as bald eagles swoop above your head, pelicans dive for their next meal, and pileated woodpeckers knock on wood all around you.
Bear, deer, moose, and timber wolves make their homes in nearby forests, and if you watch the lakeside quietly and carefully, you’ll see beaver, mink, and otter frolicking in the waters and catching their next meal. Cameras are an absolute must, as the views you are afforded are once-in-a-lifetime.
Explore Lake of the Woods in the winter
In the winter, Lake of the Woods takes on a life of its own and becomes a premier winter playground, offering snowmobiling, snow shoeing, cross-country skiing, and plenty of snow for snowman building and snowball fights.
Cross-country ski your way across miles of deserted, tranquil trails, or try your hand at some fast-paced snowmobiling to cover more terrain. If the family is involved, try your luck with snow shoeing, an old-fashioned pastime that’s regaining footing.
After a long day out in the snow, nothing will feel better than a mug of hot cocoa in front of the fire and a lake view out your window. Such are vacations at Lake of the Woods – quiet, yet action-packed, tranquil, but full of energy.
Winter or summer, time spent at this glacial lake is exactly what you make of it, so plan your days and make it the best vacation you could imagine.