Ice road on large northern Minnesota lake opens for 2nd year

Published 5:34 pm Tuesday, January 18, 2022

WARROAD — A 37-mile ice highway in Minnesota that takes motorists across the mammoth Lake of the Woods to the northernmost point in the contiguous United States is open for the second straight year, with a toll of $250 per vehicle.

The road, which costs an estimated $1,500 per mile for plowing and other upkeep, begins in Warroad and ends at the Northwest Angle resort community, which is known for its ice fishing. The highway allows people to bypass a drive into Canada or get there in a vehicle rather than a plane or snowmobile.

“Some people say, ‘Gosh, I feel like I’m on the moon,’ and some people say they think they’re in Antarctica or on the tundra,” Joe Henry, executive director of Lake of the Woods Tourism, said of driving the ice road. “It’s big ice. Lake of the Woods is a big lake. That’s all part of the novelty. That’s all part of the feeling.”

The ice road was first created last winter when the Canadian border was closed to nonessential travel from the U.S. amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Minnesota Public Radio News reported.

The border is open again but Henry said the ice road remains important to the vitality of resorts dependent on visitors. Some people don’t have passports or other credentials to get into Canada and some aren’t vaccinated, he said.

The speed limit is 20 mph, so it takes about two hours to get from end to end.