Spurred by the extended closure of the United States-Canada border to most travel, Northwest Angle businesses have come together to find a way to get customers to their businesses without crossing through Canada.
The northernmost point in the contiguous U.S., Minnesota’s NW Angle is bordered by Lake of the Woods to the southeast and Canada to the northwest, and can only be accessed by driving through Canada about 40 miles before entering back into the U.S., crossing the big lake by boat or ice, or flying there.
“There is a well groomed snowmobile trail across the lake which is a great option if you snowmobile,” Joe Henry, executive director, Lake of the Woods Tourism, said in a news release. “One could fly up but with no airport, landing on the ice isn’t realistic for most visitors.”
Local fishing resorts on North West Angle have been cut off from customers since mid-March when the border first closed. The closure has been extended a number of times since.
When the ice is thick enough to accommodate vehicles, most likely in early January through March, visiting ice anglers will have the opportunity to purchase a pass and drive the road both over ice and then through a forest up to the NW Angle, Henry announced Monday.
“This is a monumental task and it is amazing to see the NW Angle area pull together to save their ice fishing season,” he said. “This project is absolutely necessary to save some resorts who have had little to no revenue since March. Small business owners bringing to the table their entrepreneurial spirit, can-do attitudes, and decades of wisdom to make this happen. The NW Angle is special and this is community and teamwork at its finest.”
The NW Angle Guest Ice Road will begin at Springsteel Resort just south of the Canadian border on the southwest corner of Lake of the Woods. The ice road will make its way north staying on U.S. ice up to the border cut trail, a road through a forest where it will end up connecting to one of the main roads up at the Angle. Details and updates can be found on the NW Angle Guest Ice Road’s Facebook page @nwaiceroad.
Henry said facing another season “of virtually no revenue,” prompted the community to pull together and come up with a solution. There have been ice roads on Lake of the Woods for many years allowing anglers access to good fishing areas, but never an ice road that extended from the south shore of Lake of the Woods all of the way up to the NW Angle.