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Vehicles begin using new Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road

The Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road begins at Springsteel Resort north of Warroad, Minn., and provides much-needed road access to the Angle.

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After a “soft opening” trial run that has been limited to resort guests with reservations, a winter road from the south end of Lake of the Woods to Minnesota’s Northwest Angle is ready to open for the general public, an organizer of the project said Tuesday.

The official announcement of the road’s opening is set for Friday, but some 50 vehicles have used the road since Monday, Brett Alsleben of Points North Services on the Northwest Angle mainland said Tuesday afternoon.

“Everything is going good,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of positive feedback.”

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The Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road, as it’s called, begins at Springsteel Resort north of Warroad, Minn., and provides much-needed road access to the Angle. Because reaching the Northwest Angle by road requires driving through about 40 miles of Manitoba, access to everyone but permanent Angle residents and workers deemed essential has been off-limits since March, when the U.S.-Canada border closed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The winter road, which has a speed limit of 25 mph, crosses some 20 miles of Lake of the Woods east and north from Springsteel before picking up a land trail that runs north and south between the Manitoba-Minnesota border for about 8 miles.

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From there, visitors turn right on a county road that takes them to Angle Inlet or Young’s Bay and the ice road to Flag and Oak islands. Points North Services plows and maintains the island ice road.

There’s a fee of $145 per vehicle to use the new winter road, with passes available electronically on the Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road’s Facebook page . Passes also are available at Springsteel Resort, where vehicles should check in before driving onto the ice.

Maintaining an ice road costs about $1,500 per mile, according to Lake of the Woods Tourism.

The winter road from the south end of Lake of the Woods to the Northwest Angle is a first. Hopefully, the border reopens when the pandemic subsides, and the Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road won’t be necessary beyond this year, Alsleben said.

Organizers picked Friday as the official opening in case a short warm-up in the forecast for Wednesday causes the ice to shift and creates problems in areas where cracks are bridged, he said.

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“It will be officially open for the weekend,” Alsleben said. “It’s been good, and hopefully it stays that way.”

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Regular updates on the road’s condition will be posted on the Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road Facebook page , which also includes a link to the site for buying road passes .

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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