Hikes Through This Midwest State Park Are Like A Magical Wonderland In The Winter

Just because it's cold out doesn't mean you have to stay indoors. If you're an avid hiker, this is a fact of life you're already well aware of. While the trails may be most popular in the warm-weather months, wintertime offers dreamy scenery and a stillness not often found in the spring and summer. Plus, nothing is quite as gratifying as stomping through the fresh snow, leaving crisp boot tracks along the way.

Not all parks are equipped for winter hikers, but Lake Metigoshe State Park is one exception. The grounds, located in North Dakota along the shores of the lake, are open to outdoor enthusiasts all year round, with roughly 15 miles of trails to explore. On especially snowy days, visitors are welcome to strap on their snowshoes (rentals are available at the park) to trek the East Side and West Side trails.

Even when the trees are bare and the sun is hiding, Lake Metigoshe State Park stuns. The area turns into a wonderland with rolling snow-covered hills, its dazzling icy lake, and plenty of winter wildlife (look for deer, moose, birds, and other animals). If you're lucky and visit the area after dark, you could even be treated to a northern lights display.

Hiking isn't the only wintertime activity at the park

On foot isn't the only way to get around Lake Metigoshe State Park. In the winter, visitors can choose from skiing, sledding, or blazing the trails with a snow-friendly fat-tire bike. Like snowshoes, sleds, ski shoes, and cross-country skis are available for daily rental, but supplies are limited, so it's best to contact the park in advance to secure your gear. You'll also want to check the park's official Facebook page to ensure the trails are open for all activities before planning your trip. If snow is scarce or other weather conditions pose a safety risk, you may not be allowed to use your equipment.

Ice fishing is another popular cold-weather activity at the North Dakota park. The freshwaters of Lake Metigoshe are home to bluegill, crappie, pike, walleye, bass, and other species of fish.

When you're ready to up your speed, try taking a snowmobile around the area to explore more of the park and its surroundings. From the trailhead, follow the Peace Garden Snowmobile Trail to the nearby International Peace Garden. The garden spans 2,400 acres and includes indoor and outdoor sites, along with hiking and skiing trails. Note that some facilities are closed during the winter.

Cozy up in one of the cabins or yurts

After a full day of hiking and traversing around the magical Lake Metigoshe State Park, warm up in one of the destination's lodging sites. Cabins and a yurt are found throughout the park grounds, never too far from the hiking trails, so you can be close to nature even while you sleep. The Slemmen Lodge is the most luxurious accommodation, located just near the U.S. and Canadian border in a quiet section of the park. The property is large enough to fit eight guests and offers plenty of space to decompress and stretch your legs by the fireplace.

Most other accommodations are suited for smaller groups, between four and six people. For the most affordable rates, opt for one of the smaller cabins or the charming Blue Heron yurt. Large groups can also reserve one of the park's dorms for a reasonable price.

If you're a fan of camping in the winter, pack your tent and warmest pajamas and stay at one of the area's campsites, ranging from modern (with access to electricity and water) to primitive units. Reserve your spot in advance, and if you're bringing a vehicle with you, be sure to also grab a vehicle entrance permit online or by phone before your winter getaway.