Northwest Angle ice road reopens
Warroad, Minn. — For a second year in a row, a Northwest Angle Guest Ice Road has become a reality, allowing travelers to bypass Manitoba en route to the otherwise land-locked Northwest Angle on Lake of the Woods.
The road opened last week after a private company decided it would be worth it to revise last year’s version in 2022, albeit via a much more lengthy route. Last year’s route was 22 miles on the ice and another eight miles along the border on a repurposed snowmobile route.
This year, the route is 37 miles on the ice, according to Joe Henry, executive director of Lake of the Woods Tourism. That’s in part why the cost of a roundtrip pass increased – by about $100 – to $250.
Last year was the first time ever for an ice road connecting the Northwest Angle and surrounding islands to the rest of Minnesota. It was deemed a necessity by Northwest Angle resorters, because the Canada border was closed to anglers who wished to visit area. The only other way was via a snowmobile trail, by way of a bombardier trip through one of the resorts, via the Baudette-based Lake of the Woods Passenger Service, or by a chartered flight by Lake Country Air.
This year, although the Canadian border opened, restrictions remain in place, with border crossers required to be vaccinated and have a negative molecular or PCR COVID test no older than 72 hours, along with using the ArriveCan app on their smartphones.
“Not everybody is vaccinated, not everybody wants to get a COVID test,” Henry said. “From that perspective, there certainly is a need for an ice road.”
Henry noted that while resorters chipped in heavily last year to create the road, this year, private company Points North Services, which helped out with the road last year, has taken the lead.
PNS was looking at two things – ice conditions and whether there was enough good early ice. There was, Henry said. And also there was demand.
“Based on the calls, they think there is enough demand,” he said.
A season pass is available for $650.
The road again starts at Springsteel Resort in Warroad, and heads up the border in front of Buffalo Bay. Instead of going directly north, it winds northeast toward Garden Island, then hugs the shoreline of the Northwest Angle before continuing to Flag Island.
“It’s one of the many ways to get to the Northwest Angle,” Henry said. “Some people think getting up there is part of the adventure. It takes more time. It gets less fishing pressure. It is one of the reasons that the people who live up there think it is so special.”
Ice road guests may purchase passes via Venmo and Eventbrite (links are on the road’s Facebook page) or at Springsteel Resort, and must stop at that resort to show proof of purchase. It’s a good idea to visit the Facebook page for any updates. Visitors are advised to use the road only during daytime, limiting trailers, and keeping speeds low. Plow drivers should be given plenty of space, and Points North Services can be reached at (218) 223-4201 if any problems arise.