Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road on Lake of the Woods closes for the season
A total of 966 passes were sold to use the road, according to the Facebook post. Partners put in 675 hours of plowing and spent $130,000 in building and maintaining the road, in addition to hundreds of volunteer hours handling other aspects of the project.
It was a successful endeavor, a way to jumpstart winter tourism on Minnesota’s Northwest Angle after a disastrous summer, but a winter road from the south end of Lake of the Woods to the remote area at the top of the state has closed for the season.
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The winter road, which opened in late January, crossed 22 miles of ice beginning at Springsteel Resort north of Warroad, Minn., and 8 miles of land along the Manitoba-Minnesota border before coming out on a county road that leads to the Angle and an ice road to Flag and Oak islands.
The road closed for the season Friday, organizers reported on the Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road Facebook page.
Resorts and other businesses on the Angle banded together to develop the winter road as a way for visitors to drive to the Northwest Angle during the ongoing closure of the U.S.-Canada border to nonessential travel.
Surrounded on three sides by Canada, the Northwest Angle is only accessible from Minnesota by crossing some 40 miles of Lake of the Woods. In the summer, that means the only way to reach the Angle without driving through Canada is by boat – a risky proposition when the wind blows – or floatplane.
Accessing the winter road cost $120 to the Northwest Angle mainland and $145 to the islands. A total of 966 passes were sold to use the road, according to the Facebook post. Partners put in 675 hours of plowing and spent $130,000 in building and maintaining the road, in addition to hundreds of volunteer hours handling other aspects of the project.
Driving the 40 miles through Manitoba to reach the Angle by road hasn’t been an option for anyone but permanent Angle residents and workers deemed essential since March 21, 2020, when the U.S.-Canada border closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite repeated efforts by members of Minnesota’s congressional delegation and others, Canada has yet to address requests to allow Angle-bound visitors to drive through the sparsely populated area of Manitoba, even though they’re traveling to a U.S. destination.
While providing much-needed vehicle access, the winter road also drew widespread media attention to the Northwest Angle’s plight from news outlets across the region, including the Herald and WDAY-TV, KARE-11 and the Star Tribune in the Twin Cities and numerous social media platforms.
Prospects for reopening the border – and the summer tourism season – remain uncertain.