Minnesota state parks and trails to host winter candlelight events for all ages

Minnesota Depatment of Natural Resources

Thirty candlelight ski, snowshoe and hiking events are scheduled to take place at Minnesota state parks and trails this winter, says the state Department of Natural Resources.

Among the highlights are the annual New Year’s Eve candlelight walk at Fort Snelling State Park in St. Paul, which has drawn 1,500 or more participants in past years; an all-new candlelight walk on Jan. 3 along the Luce Line State Trail in Plymouth; and several events on Valentine’s Weekend, including a Feb. 15 candlelight ski/snowshoe/walk at Wild River State Park, about an hour north of the Twin Cities.

The family-friendly events are typically held on short, easy trails that are suitable for all ages and abilities. After participants explore trails lined with lanterns or luminaries, they can enjoy refreshments and warm up by a fire.

“Our candlelight events are a great way to get out and make some memories with friends and family,” said Courtland Nelson, director of the Parks and Trails Division. “The candles and luminaries add a touch of magic to the great outdoors.”

People can rent or check out equipment at some parks (rental cost is typically $6/person/day for snowshoes or $10/person/day for cross-country skis, boots and poles). The DNR advises calling in advance to confirm availability and to reserve equipment.

For additional ideas on what to do at Minnesota state parks and trails this winter, people are encouraged to pick up a copy of the new Minnesota state parks and trails winter programs and special events brochure and check out the winter activities guide page at www.mndnr.gov/winterguide.

A vehicle permit is required to enter Minnesota state parks ($5 for a one-day permit or $25 for a year-round permit). Those who don’t already have a Minnesota state parks vehicle permit (www.dnr.state.mn.us/state_parks/permit.html) can purchase one at any of the parks.

Skiers age 16 and older also need the Great Minnesota Ski Pass to participate in the candle-lit ski events. The Great Minnesota Ski Pass ($6/one-day pass, $20/single-season pass, and $55/three-season pass) allows access to hundreds of miles of trails in state parks and forests (www.mndnr.gov/skiing). Skiers age 15 or younger can access trails for free.

A partial listing of 2013-2014 candlelight events at Minnesota state park and trails are listed below.

Tuesday, Dec. 31 
Fort Snelling State Park (St. Paul), New Year’s Eve candlelight walk, 4-8 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 11
Lake Carlos State Park (Carlos), candlelight ski and snowshoe, 6-9 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 18
Itasca State Park (Park Rapids), lantern-lit snowshoe hike, 5-7:30 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 8
Lake Maria State Park (Monticello), candlelight snowshoe, 6-9 p.m.
Lake Carlos State Park (Carlos), candlelight ski and snowshoe, 6-9 p.m.

Saturday, Feb. 15
Glendalough State Park (Battle Lake), candlelight ski, 6:30-9 p.m.
Gooseberry Falls State Park (Two Harbors), candlelight ski, 6-8:30 p.m.
Glacial Lakes State Park (Starbuck), candlelight ski and snowshoe, 6-9 p.m.

Additional information and events can be found at www.mndnr.gov/candlelight.

Note that events may be changed or canceled due to weather. For more information, including weather updates, directions to parks and where to get a ski pass, visit www.mndnr.gov, email [email protected] or call the DNR Information Center at 651-296-6157 or toll-free 888-646-6367, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.