Planning a trip to Northern Minnesota is a snap. Remember, your experience will be better with a bit of preparation and anticipation. Human population density is lower, towns are a bit farther apart, and the pioneer spirit and self-reliance are the personal attributes of the day!

Dressing for the adventure is important. Sturdy footwear is essential for off-trail adventures. More importantly, many of the prairies that are inviting in the spring just after snowmelt hold water like a sponge. Knee-high rubber boots or other waterproof boots will make days a-field far more enjoyable.

Weather patterns can vary dramatically from the average. Prairie regions, for instance, are defined by their high variability. On an annual basis, prairies record the hottest summer and the coolest winter temperatures. Boreal forests have a moderating effect on weather patterns. Average or mean temperatures and rainfall reflect the patterns over 30 years of recorded information, but expect variability around these averages.

 

Temperature averages (degrees Fahrenheit) – Mean maximum / minimum monthly temperature for each month at several cities in Northern Minnesota. The cities are presented from northeast to southwest.

 


JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

International Falls

13.8

22.4

34.9

51.5

66.6

74.2

78.6

76.3

64.7

51.7

32.5

18.1

-8.4

-0.7

12.3

27.1

40.0

49.1

53.6

51.3

41.6

31.5

16.4

-1.1

Karlstad

10.9

18.9

32.2

51.2

67.1

75.1

79.4

78.5

67.2

52.8

31.7

16.2

-9.8

-1.9

13.6

29.4

42.9

51.4

55.4

52.9

43.4

32.9

16.5

-0.9

Thief River Falls

12.1

20.6

33.6

53.1

69.5

76.7

81.0

79.7

68.0

54.0

31.6

17.5

-5.6

1.8

15.2

29.8

42.7

52.1

56.2

54.6

44.8

33.3

17.2

1.0

Bemidji

16.1

24.0

36

52.6

67.5

74.6

78.7

76.6

65.9

53.5

33.9

20.7

-4.3

2.6

16.0

29.5

42.6

51.9

57.0

54.6

45.3

35.0

19.0

3.3

Itasca State Park

14.7

23.1

34.6

50.8

65.8

74.0

78.4

76.9

65.7

52.6

33

19.2

-9.0

-2.6

11.0

25.0

39.1

49.4

53.7

51.6

40.9

30.1

15.3

-0.5

Detroit Lakes

16.4

24.1

36.7

54.8

69.4

76.1

80.5

79.1

69.1

55.9

35.1

21.0

-4.3

3.2

17.1

31.2

44.3

53.1

58

56.6

46.8

35.5

20.0

3.7

Wheaton

20.8

28

39.7

57.9

72.3

80.2

84.9

83.5

74.2

60.9

39.6

25.6

0.9

8.5

21.0

34.2

47.1

56.7

61.0

59.1

49.0

37.0

21.6

7.3

Data source: 1971-2000, National Climate Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina

 

Precipitation averages (inches) – Mean monthly precipitation for each month at several cities in Northern Minnesota. The cities are presented from northeast to southwest.

 


JAN

FEB

MAR

APR

MAY

JUN

JUL

AUG

SEP

OCT

NOV

DEC

International Falls

0.84

0.64

0.96

1.38

2.55

3.98

3.37

3.14

3.03

1.98

1.36

0.70

Karlstad

0.53

0.34

0.66

1.11

2.11

3.45

3.28

2.10

2.16

1.49

0.83

0.50

Thief River Falls

0.22

0.28

0.44

0.96

2.59

3.39

3.43

3.14

2.44

1.68

0.86

0.26

Bemidji

0.69

0.57

0.86

1.52

2.67

4.09

4.33

3.50

2.75

2.26

1.12

0.63

Itasca State Park

0.90

0.63

1.34

1.74

2.81

4.30

3.92

3.71

2.98

2.55

1.41

0.75

Detroit Lakes

0.76

0.57

1.15

1.54

2.97

4.41

4.03

3.67

3.02

2.5

1.10

0.64

Wheaton

0.92

0.55

1.50

1.95

2.54

3.77

3.11

2.53

2.10

1.87

1.16

0.54

Data source: 1971-2000, National Climate Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina

 

Daylight often drives your activities so plan ahead and check out local sunrise and sunset tables, hosted by the U.S. Naval Observatory. Similar services are available from SunriseSunset.com.

Fuel at filling stations and convenience stores are common elements in most small towns. However, only the larger population centers are likely to be open late in the evening. Running low on fuel after 10:00 pm on a Saturday night in rural northern Minnesota would be an adventure in itself – at least you would catch the sunrise with moose, elk, and possibly black bear in sight!

Road Conditions are generally very good. If you are winter trekking, check with the Minnesota Department of Transportation for a current weather and construction reports at 651-284-0511, 800-542-0220, or dial 511 on your mobile phone.

Seat Belts are required for front seat occupants and all passengers under 11 years old. Child restraints are required for those under 4 years of age.

Trail-less hiking, treking, or ambling are synonyms for the style of hiking used in most northern Minnesota sites. Established trails do not exist and you are encouraged to set out on the path and direction that you determine. Be mindfull that the spaces are open and vast and basic wilderness navigation skill are important. Carry and use a compass and map to orient yourself. Global Positioning System (GPS) units also can be helpfull (be sure to carry extra batteries), but are not a substitute for a map and good compass.

Hunting and Fishing are popular recreational pursuits. Regulations, guidelines, and licenses are available online from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources as well as hundreds of Electronic License System agents throughout the region.

Permits are required for admission to state parks. Cross-country skiers on public trails must have a Minnesota Ski Pass that is available for the entire season as well as daily passes.

Invertebrate pests (i.e., bugs and their allies) of all sorts are absent or abound in most northern Minnesota environs, depending on the season and weather. For the most part, they are minor inconveniences but planning ahead will make every trip count. Mosquito populations are strongly dependent on precipitation – abundant during rainy and wet conditions, absent during prolonged dry spells. However, some areas (e.g., extensive bogs and marshes of Koochaching County) will always have some moisture. Prime bite time is twilight as well as periods of no wind. If your adventure includes walking wet prairies and marshes at twilight, long sleeves and a head net would be welcome companions during wet years. Better yet, visit during the 8 months of the mosquitoes-free season (mid-September through mid-May). There are 13 species of ticks in Minnesota, but only three generally encountered by humans, two species of dog tick (aka wood tick) and the blacklegged tick (formerly deer tick). Blacklegged ticks can potentially transmit Lyme disease with its bite. Be sure to keep the tick for proper identification if you are concerned. Wearing protective clothing (long-sleeved shirts and long pants) and checking yourself when returning from tick-infested areas are your best defense. DEET insect repellent applied to socks and pant legs also can be effective. Read more from the University of Minnesota Extension Services’ publication 1013 on Ticks and Their Control.