In the Snow
It is easy to see how Bemidji earned the title “Snowmobile Capital of the North!” With unmatched scenic beauty, excellent grooming, and an abundant number of trails–so many, the saying here is “Bemidji’s got more trails than you’ve got time!” Great pit stops along the routes, too, with many Bemidji lodgings offering direct access to the trails.
Cross Country Skier Magazine made this distinction… “Bemidji is one of the most attractive areas to ski in the United States.” Beautiful as well as bountiful, there are nine trails sites located downtown or just minutes away, offering skiers more than 80 miles of challenging and spectacular scenery. With a variety of ski style trails for every level of skill, you’ll soon see why Bemidji is home to so many cross-country skiing enthusiasts.
Fish foodies swear there is nothing more delicious than a freshly pulled catch from the frozen northern waters. And if you are a catch and release enthusiast, winter fishing is a whole different brand of exciting fun– whether over a hole seated on a bucket, or toasting your toes in a decked-out fishhouse. Avid Bemidji fisherman find winter walleye success on most larger lakes in the area, and panfish active this time of year on many smaller lakes. Area guides and rentals available, with fun events such as BSU’s Hardwater Classic tournament held in February.
Nothing screams fun like tubing down the Bemidji snow covered hills! It’s fast, takes minimal skills, and doesn’t require any expensive equipment. When you tube at Buena Vista Village, there is a tube tow to return you to the top quickly to enjoy it all over again!
Enjoy a beautiful snowshoeing trek at either of Bemidji’s two area state parks – Lake Bemidji and Itasca State Parks. In Itasca State Park, trails for snowshoeing include: Dr. Roberts, Schoolcraft, Brower, Mary Lake, LaSalle, or anywhere in the park except groomed trails and roads. Lake Bemidji State Park offers snowshoe rental and activities to explore the park forest on your own, or take a guided tour with a park naturalist. Both parks offer scheduled events as the Snowshoe Moon Walk where you can view the breathtaking northern stars as you tour by candlelight, as well as lacing workshops and snowshoe instructions.
Other notable snowshoeing spots around Bemidji include:
Movil Maze Recreational Trail System with an approximately 2 mile snowshoe trail.
Three Island Park with a 3K designated snowshoe trail along the beautiful Turtle River.
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The 59-year history of Bemidji State University’s men’s hockey distinguishes the BSU Beavers among the greatest collegiate sports programs. With 21 conference titles, 13 small-college national championships, and a trip to the 2009 NCAA Frozen Four, BSU has also seen 82 All-American student-athletes, as well as eight former Beavers go on to play on hockey’s grandest stage—the National Hockey League. The Beavers traditionally play one of the toughest home schedules in the nation, in one of the country’s best facilities, The Sanford Center. You don’t want to miss any of this action, typically held September thru February.
Known as “The Nordic Festival of the North,” the Finlandia is a premier North American cross-country ski event that has been held in Bemidji since 1982. The race, originally a part of the USSA’s Great American Ski Chase for nineteen years, is also a part of the Minnesota Skinnyski Series, where it was voted “Best Course”and “Best Overall Event” by skiers of this series. It is also truly an international event, attracting citizen and elite skiers from around the world. Originally held at the Movil Maze trails, the race was moved to the scenic and challenging trails that crisscross the Continental Divide at Buena Vista ever since. Events for this February weekend include the Buena Vista Classic 25km, 25k Pursuit, Minnesota Finlandia 50km, 25k Bemidjithon, and the1st National Bank Northwoods 10k Tour. This world class ski event is open to everyone and features spaghetti feeds, award ceremony, ski-centered activities and more.
Night We Light
Held the Friday after Thanksgiving, the Night We Light festival rings in the start of the holiday season with a parade filled with illuminated floats. Following the parade, the switch is thrown lighting the iconic Paul and Babe the Blue Ox statues, as well as brightening up the Bemidji downtown! Ornaments made during the event are hung on the Christmas tree in the Bemidji Visitors Center, and there is carol singing, food trucks on scene at the ceremony, awards given for the best parade floats, and a traditional Night We Light bonfire.
On a Sunday afternoon, January 13, 1935, near the end of the Great Depression, the Bemidji Curling Club was organized at a meeting at the Tourist Information Building. Today, the walls of this Club are lined with more than 100 banners signifying years of state and national championships, and Bemidji is nationally recognized as “The Curling Capital of the USA.” The distinction comes from the Club’s long line of curling champions, including the men and women representing the United States in the 2005 World Curling Championship and the 2006 Winter Olympics in which half of the ten member team called Bemidji home. The public is welcome to stop by the Bemidji Curling Club to watch all the action as the Club hosts many state and national championship tournaments, with bonspiels and tournament play often held on weekends, and club play during the week. The Club features a general viewing area on the first floor and another viewing area upstairs with a bar.
Winterfest on Lake Bemidji is Bemidji’s “coolest event of the year!” Held annually in February, this is non-stop winter fun that encompasses every favored cold weather activity (and some warm weather ones, too!) including a curling bonspiel, the Hardwater Classic ice fishing tournament, annual BRRRmidji Plunge in the frigid Lake Bemidji waters, pond hockey, frozen turkey bowling, even a cornhole tournament. This family event includes music, food and more!
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Just about Anything on Ice
Don’t be surprised to see an ice boat zip on by at 40 mph during a winter visit to Bemidji. And while not a scheduled event (yet!) a game of snow golf can spring up in a moment…or perhaps a game of turkey bowling, mutt sled racing, and, of course, the annual Polar Plunge swim extravaganza. Just about anything you can think of doing on ice or in the snow to test one’s winter mettle is considered game (and fun!) in Bemidji! To keep up with all the winter activities and unique events, be sure to check the Events calendar.
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
Sitting astride the Continental Divide, the Buena Vista Ski Village offers 16 runs, the longest being 2,000 feet and boasting a 230 foot drop. Buena Vista includes two terrain parks for adventurous ski tricksters who like to catch air and push winter’s boundaries. Ski facilities feature four chairlifts with a beginner’s tow, a chalet with cafe plus ski rentals and repairs.
When a city is recognized as a “Bicycle Friendly Community,” snow drifts do not keep Bemidji riders from getting out on two wheels! While studded tire riders are becoming popular in the area, fat tire bikes are the preferred peddles to power through snowdrifts along the multi-use path that circles Lake Bemidji. And Lake Bemidji State Park is rapidly becoming a fat bike destination, even playing host to the Northland Fat Bike Rally with a 10k and 28k course held in March.
Outdoor skating rinks can be enjoyed at Bemidji’s Nymore Park and City Park. Each features a warming house that serves both the hockey and pleasure rinks. Open broom ball is also scheduled during select winter times. The Neilson Reise Arena, a 2-sheet indoor ice skating rink, is open year round with snack bar and select public skate times.
Buena Vista Village
One of the favored spots to enjoy a crisp, beautiful winter Bemidji day is at Buena Vista Village, the area’s premier winter recreation center where visitors can enjoy both downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tubing, as well as an authentic sleigh ride – all overlooking the breathtaking scenery of the Continental Divide. There is also the Lumberjack Hall of Fame to browse showing authentic, historic memorabilia from the logging days era.