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winter at gunflint lodge

Winter promises an abundance of snow, pristine and white, and the quiet that can only be found here at this special time of year. Snow falls gently and silently, leaving a canvas for tracks to be spotted by an observant skier or snowshoer.

On a clear night, there is always the prospect of a colorful display of northern lights dancing crazily across the sky. Full moon nights
are nearly as bright as the day, with the moon shimmering off the white snow. Winter at Gunflint Lodge is a magical time.

Guest testimonial posted on Trip Advisors

minnesotamom333   7 contributions
Minneapolis, MN
Mar 15, 2010 | Trip type: Family

I originally visited Gunflint on a girl's weekend. It was so wonderful to leave everything at home and just be in nature with my friend and relax. We fell in love with the place. I just had to bring my family back, so we came over Thanksgiving for an extended weekend. As soon as we hit the Gunflint Trail, my husband started to comment about how beautiful the surroundings were. When we pulled up to the main lodge and he saw the view, I knew it would be a hit. I love that you cannot get cell phone reception here. It really is an opportunity to completely "unplug" and enjoy being with your family or friends. The rooms have televisions with DVD/VHS but do not receive cable service (a plus, in my opinion). You can check out movies from the main lodge (the selection isn't great, so if you really want to watch movies you may want to bring your own). We stayed in a cabin with a full kitchen and two beds and two baths with a sauna. Our window overlooked the lake. The view was gorgeous. Each cabin has a birdfeeder out in front and the main lodge provides bird and deer food free of charge. The food at the lodge is very good. The portions are huge. The service is great (but not overly solicitous) the people that work there are really nice and the ambience is conducive to relaxation. The main lodge has a huge fireplace and games you can play while looking out at the lake. There is a bar in the main part of the lodge that also serves yummy casual food (try the wild rice quesadillas). Attached to the bar area is another dining area called Justine's with gourmet meals. Delicious. There is a dock with boats you can use for fishing. There is a horse stable with rides that cost additional. The hiking is amazing. My daughter, 5, loved the Lonely Lake trail. It was just about a mile and perfect for younger kids with lots of nature experiences. My husband enjoyed a solitary hike that went up to the "summit" with stunning views of the lake and across to Canada. The naturalist activities are really great and varied. My daughter loved the arts and crafts. If you are looking for a vibrant night life and tons of activities, this is not the vacation for you. If you are looking for a place to get away from it all and relax, Gunflint Lodge is PERFECT. My daughter keeps asking when we are going back to "our cabin" at Gunflint

Gunflint Winter Vacations are Special!

cross country skiing at gunflint trail

Cross Country Skiing
Some of the finest Cross Country Skiing in the Midwest is up on the Gunflint.  Miles and miles of groomed ski trails are laced through our boreal forest, meandering through deep cedar swamps, aspen hillsides, and up past scenic overlooks.  Snows come in November and stay until April with an average snowfall of over 100” over most winters.  Many of these ski trails leave right from the back of the lodge area and they range from easy to challenging.

Dog Sledding Adventures
Dog sled rides are available daily through the snow season. Adam, our head musher, has 12 dogs up in the dog yard and he offers everything from a 30 minute ride up to a 1/2 day trip. We have a special dog sledding trail system seperate from our ski and snowshoe trails.

Snowshoeing is the old traditional mode of transportation in the northwoods. We have special trails and the snowshoes for you, for an excursion into our back basin, through a winter deer yard, back to Lonely Lake and along below the high cliffs.

Special Winter Packages
We get a little carried away with our winter packages, but we have something going on almost every week from late October to early June.  Our packages are just an easy way for you to focus on a special activity that might be appealing, but we also offer daily cabin rates if you would prefer to create your own special getaway.

Ice Fishing on Gunflint LakeIce Fishing
Winter fishing in the Gunflint area is for lake trout.  We have some of the best lake trout fishing in mid-America and some of that is right here on Gunflint Lake.  We will help you with suggested fishing locations if you want to go out on your own, or we have ice fishing guides on staff to be your trip leader.  The fishing season is from mid-January to mid-March and the lake trout run from 3 to 10 pounds on the average.

Wedding and honeymoons are one of our specialties.  We have the capacity to host wedding groups up to 100 people.  Each event is custom planned by our wedding coordinator.  Call us or send an e-mail inquiry and we will start a dialog with you on your needs to see how we could create a perfect wedding for you.


Winter Packages

Click here to find the perfect Winter vacation for you and your family!

What's Going On This Winter

All accommodations are pet friendly, with special Wagalot and Uffta Woofta dog weekends.

Love to travel but hate to leave part of the family home? You're welcome to bring your dogs to Gunflint Lodge. Most of our accommodations suit pets just fine - you'll even find one ski trail on which they can join you for some skiing. ($20 per pet per night, except during our Special Dog Weekends when they are free)

Breakfast in the Lodge

A hearty Northwoods breakfast, prepared and served, is a sure way to get your day of winter recreation off to a smooth start, so skip the chores and let us serve you breakfast in the Lodge. All guests receive a full complimentary breakfast each morning . On busy mornings we serve a buffet breakfast so we can be more timely with our service.

Happy Hour

Free appetizers and a 'drink special of the day' are offered each afternoon from 4 to 6 p.m. Come in and relax by the fireplace and enjoy some casual time after your day of skiing, snowshoeing or dog sledding (or just unwinding if that is your priority). This is offered every day during the winter season and will last until sometime in April, depending on what guests would like.

New Gourmet Night of the Month

This winter Adam will create a gourmet feast package once a month. His friday dinner will have 4 unique specials of the night, while Saturday will have a fixed menu with 6 courses, accompanied by appropriate wines. We will try to post the upcoming menu one month in advance, as it will change each time around.

Gunflint Lodge Blog

Read all about the day-to-day happenings in the woods, on the water, and at the Lodge - plus an occasional historical note of interest - at the new Gunflint Lodge Blogspot ( Be sure to check out our blog before your visit and get up to date on all the latest news.

Gunflint Bistro

The Red Paddle Bistro

You may have noticed that whenever people talk about Gunflint Lodge, great food quickly becomes part of the conversation. Our Red Paddle restaurant has been serving fine Northwoods cuisine for many years and we continue that tradition. We serve from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. during the winter months.

Our main lodge is a place where you can sit and sip a drink before dinner, or come in on a cold afternoon for a warming beverage. It is also a fine place to enjoy a cordial while watching the sunset over Gunflint Lake. Children's menu items are always available. This is the perfect setting for a leisurely afternoon of board games. We look forward to welcoming you to the Red Paddle dining room!

the red paddle bistro

What is it like at Gunflint during the Winter months?

Winter moose at Gunflint

Every season offers a different set of experiences at Gunflint but there are some things that never change. The Kerfoot family has been here for several generations (80 years and counting). One of the reasons we have stayed is that everyone in the family truly enjoys welcoming guests to the Northwoods. We like to help you explore our forest and find those places that are special. Bruce and Sue still enjoy talking with guests and planning excursions for them. Our staff is always willing to talk with you about fun places to visit in the forest and lakes around us. So here are some ideas of what we see and do during the winter season.

The first of December is when winter really starts to come at Gunflint. We usually have several inches of snow on the ground. Sometimes it’s enough to start cross country skiing and sometimes we wait a bit longer. The fresh white snow looks beautiful on our trees and bushes.

Dog sledding adventures in Minnesota

Around the 20th of December Gunflint Lake will freeze over. For weeks we have been watching it steam off excess warmth on cold mornings. The bays will freeze over earlier. Little stretches of ice will creep out from shore. Then one morning we wake up to a lake covered with ice. Or perhaps we can watch the lake cover with ice throughout a cold calm day. It is quite a transformation to see. The ice is not safe to walk on until there are several inches of solid blue ice. Sometimes this happens over a week of very cold nights. On rare occasions we have no snow during this period. The ice is smooth as a skating rink. In fact, you can strap on your skates and go all over the lake but this only happens rarely.

The first weekends in December are also our holiday decorating weekends. We like to dress the lodge up for the upcoming season. There are lights to hang, wreaths to make, and trees to decorate. Those with long arms and legs help put the top ornaments on the tree in the main lodge. Many guests have helped decorate for years and it has become part of their holiday tradition.

About now we will have enough snow to open the cross country ski trails. The piston-bully groomer has rolled a base and set a track. You could be the first party on the trail for this year’s ski season. For those who love to ski, there is nothing better than the first ski of the year and Gunflint it the perfect setting to do it in. We will have great skiing until the end of March. There are lots of trails and we never have big crowds on them. It is so quiet that you can hear your skiis swishing across the packed trail. This is perfect country for cross country skiing.

Snowshoeing at Gunflint Lodge

One of Jenny’s massages is a great way to loosen up after a day of skiing. We are lucky to have her available for massages. Just ask the front desk to arrange one for you.

Winter also brings the chance for a little ice fishing. On Gunflint that means fresh lake trout for dinner. Some days the lake is warm and sunny for your fishing trip. You better remember to put on your suntan lotion or you will come back with a burned face. There is nothing better than watching your bobber go down as a trout hits it. As you reel in, you will start thinking about how good the fish will taste for dinner.

Winter skiing at GunflintThe frozen lake offers opportunities we don’t have in the summer. On many days you can just look across and see wolves on it. Just last week some wolves chased deer across the lake and right up to the lodge. The wolves didn’t stop until they reached the dock. On a clear still night, you want to take a walk out onto the frozen lake. Looking up you will see a display of stars unlike anything you have every seen before.

The Kerfoot family has found ways for you to observe animals throughout the winter. Throughout the day you will encounter deer walking around the cabins. Our deer are very tame. We don’t forget the birds during the winter. Our feeders are loaded with sunflower seeds. On cold winter days there is a steady stream of fluffy birds coming in for food.

Winter walks down the back road are great for a little exercise. Another form of walking in the woods is offered by a pair of snowshoes. Snowshoes are the traditional form of transportation for winter walkers. They can take you far into the woods through the deepest snow. It’s just like walking so you have plenty of time to look around and see what’s happening in the woods. Unlike skiing, you can easily stop anytime to watch a deer scamper off.

Snowmobilers at the Gunflint Activity CenterAlthough Gunflint does not have a lot of snowmobilers, we have found that many of our guests would like to try snowmobiling. So we have a couple machines available and the snowmobile artery trail is nearby. It can be great fun to go down to the east end of the lake or to go down to Trail Center for some hot chocolate. Actually the advent of snowmobiling in the sixties is what reminded people of Minnesota that there is lots to do in the woods during the winter no matter how you choose to explore.

As you can see, no matter what season you visit Gunflint, there is lots to do. Many things are unique to one season while others are available throughout the year. One thing we can promise you is comfortable cabins, great meals, and friendly service. As they have for generations, the Kerfoot family is here to welcome you to your home in the woods.

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