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Update: Pressure ridges force temporary closure of ice road across Lake of the Woods to Northwest Angle

In a text message Friday morning, Brett Alsleben of Points North Services said they are trying to get the road back open by the end of the weekend.

NW Angle Ice Road photo.jpg
Plow trucks work on an ice road from the south shore of Lake of the Woods to the Northwest Angle in early January. New pressure ridges forced the ice road to shut down Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. Efforts to reopen the road were ongoing.
Contributed / Points North Services

NORTHWEST ANGLE, Minn. – A blizzard earlier this week and new pressure ridges that developed on the ice have forced the temporary closure of the ice road from the south shore of Lake of the Woods to the Northwest Angle.

Road operators posted the notice Wednesday, Jan. 19, on the Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road Facebook page. The road, which connects with an ice road on the south shore of the lake maintained by Springsteel Resort north of Warroad, Minnesota, opened for the season Friday, Jan. 14, to provide vehicle access from the south shore of Lake of the Woods to the Angle without having to drive through Canada.

A Minnesota exclave, the Northwest Angle is bordered on three sides by Canada and accessible by vehicle only by driving through about 40 miles of Manitoba before re-entering the U.S.

From Springsteel to the point where the ice road ends at the Flag Island land portage on the Northwest Angle, the road across frozen Lake of the Woods is about 37 miles long. Points North Services, a business on the Northwest Angle mainland, is in charge of the Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road and also plows a road from the mainland to island resorts on the Northwest Angle.

The update posted Wednesday evening reads as follows: “Due to unforeseen pressure ridges in the road we will have to reroute the road. We will update when it’s back open. Thanks for your understanding.”


In a text message Friday morning, Brett Alsleben of Points North Services said they are trying to get the road back open by the end of the weekend.

"Hopefully that plan works," he said. "That road broke up real bad."

National headlines

The Northwest Angle made national news last winter when Points North, along with several resorts, a local snowmobile club and area residents, teamed up to plow an ice road across Lake of the Woods to provide vehicle access to the Angle while the Canadian border remained closed to nonessential travel.

Last winter’s ice road, which opened in mid-January and closed Friday, March 21, included 8 miles of land travel along the U.S.-Canada border between Stony Point and Lake of the Woods County Road 49.

The road this winter is entirely on the ice.

The access fee for using the road is $250 per vehicle or $650 for the season, and the Eventbrite ticketing platform is handling the sale of passes. In addition, QR codes for the VENMO mobile payment service are available on the ice road Facebook page and at Springsteel Resort.

The increase in the access fee from last year’s price of $120 to the Northwest Angle mainland and $145 to the islands was necessary because Points North is going it alone on this year’s ice road, Alsleben said.

Maintaining that much ice road across the lake is a big job. Fuel costs this year are higher, Alsleben said, and plow trucks barely get 3 miles per gallon while pushing snow.


Last winter’s ice road cost an estimated $1,500 a mile to plow and maintain, and partners invested 675 hours of plowing time and spent $130,000 in building and maintaining the road, according to Lake of the Woods Tourism.

People wanted the ice road again this winter, and it was definitely needed, Alsleben told the Herald recently. Even with the Canada border open to nonessential travel, traffic to the Angle has been nowhere near pre-pandemic levels because of the vaccination and testing requirements and a border-crossing process many people see as too much hassle, Alsleben said.

Updates on the ice road, as needed, will be posted on the Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road-2022 Facebook page at facebook.com/nwaiceroad.

Visitors can also reach the Northwest Angle by driving through Manitoba if they meet Canada’s vaccination and testing requirements, by groomed snowmobile trails from the south end of the lake, by Bombardier tracked vehicle through Lake of the Woods Passenger Service or by air through Lake Country Air, a St. Paul-based company providing charter air service from either Baudette or Warroad.

More info: lakeofthewoodsmn.com.

Brad Dokken joined the Herald company in November 1985 as a copy editor for Agweek magazine and has been the Grand Forks Herald's outdoors editor since 1998.

Besides his role as an outdoors writer, Dokken has an extensive background in northwest Minnesota and Canadian border issues and provides occasional coverage on those topics.

Reach him at bdokken@gfherald.com, by phone at (701) 780-1148 or on Twitter at @gfhoutdoor.
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