better North Country Trail
Forestedge Winery

Explore our stars

If you think of the Lake Country Scenic Byway as pretty close to heaven (as we do), consider traveling to see our stars, constellations and other celestial inhabitants.

See creatures great and small at the Byway’s star attractions: the Chippewa National Forest, Itasca State Park and Tamarac National Wildlife Refuge. They offer history lessons, family fun, wildlife viewing, places of solitude and a host of ways to enjoy the outdoors. The Deep Portage Learning Center south of Walker offers opportunities to find out more about woods, water and wildlife.

Six state forests along the Byway offer remote places to explore. Detailed maps are available at Chamber Visitor Centers. State forests provide an undisturbed view of local flora and fauna. Observe the unique changing of biomes as you travel east from Detroit Lakes, where prairie joins hardwood and conifer forests. Fall foliage viewing provides an array of hardwood leaf colors intermixed with deep green pine spires. This fall video allows you to appreciate the variety of beautiful leaf colors each autumn. Driving east from Snellman, snow-laden boughs of pines line the highway for an appreciation of the beauty of winter.

The Heartland and Paul Bunyan state multi-use trails are among the brightest stars in our galaxy. Bikers and snowmobilers give them rave reviews. The North Country National Scenic Trail crosses seven states between New York State and North Dakota. Hikers can find miles of completed trail in this neck of the woods. Other trails thread through state forests and the Byway. Birders will delight in spotting great numbers of woodland warblers, prairie sparrows and vast numbers of shorebirds along the Pine to Prairie International Birding Trail.

Enjoy the tranquil call of the Common Loon as you cast a line into the lake early in the morning or as the sun sets. Hundreds of sparkling blue waters offer the thrill of catching pan or game fish, including trophy-size muskie. Fish from shore, off a pier or rent a boat from a marina.

For a night on the town, discover three casinos: Northern Lights Casino in Walker, Palace Casino & Hotel in Cass Lake and Shooting Star Casino in Mahnomen (north of Detroit Lakes). Or take a daytime stroll at the Forestedge Winery.

Families may want to head to local movie theaters, live theater performances or museums or play some miniature golf. Byway communities also have shady, green parks with a variety of amenities: public beaches, courts for tennis and pickle ball, sand volleyball and skateboarding, disc golf, walking paths, children’s playground equipment and, of course, picnic tables and shelters, and more.

Or just find a blanket and stare up into the twinkling night sky away from urban light pollution. You may find the Milky Way or even see Northern Lights dancing across the horizon.