Garrett and Heather love standup paddleboarding so much that it’s not unusual to see them paddling past ice floes. Because of this love, the North Shore SUP instructors seek to draw a broad range others to the sport as well with a variety of paddleboarding classes. Beginners can opt for intro-level instruction, and adventurous types can try standup-paddleboard yoga. Paddle with Your Kids sessions give parents and children more pleasant quality time outdoors than rewriting favorite bedtime stories into fallen snow. Those interested in rentals can take regular or inflatable boards by the hour or day and can ask Garrett and Heather about the best local standup-paddleboarding spots.
Located in the heart of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area, Piragis Northwoods Company outfits excursioneers with all the necessities for embarking into the wily wilderness of northern Minnesota. Before outfitting adventurers, experienced outdoorsmen assist in planning routes and campsites to meet outdoorsy goals and wolf-man-sighting desires. Campers then rent accoutrements such as lightweight Kevlar canoes ($30+/day), solo or tandem kayaks ($30+/day), and Kevlar paddles ($6/day). Alternatively, woodspeople can be fully outfitted with canoes, paddles, packed food, tent and tarp, packs, witch repellent, sleeping bags, and a plethora of other gear ($100/person/day).
The pristine quality of the remote trails and clearings winding through the Superior National Forest gives new meaning to the word white. There are no people, no cars, and no buildings towering overhead to mar the scene, framed only by majestic cedar groves. The frosty trail and snow-heavy branches whoosh silently past—the only sounds you hear are the rhythmic mushing of the alaskan huskies in front of you and the almost synchronized beating of your own heart. After a meal cooked over a campfire, your trip might end with some hot-tub time, a fireside chat in a private lake house, or listening to the dogs' nighttime chorus of "Hungry Like the Wolf" as they bed down outside a cozy, heated yurt.
It was the vision of husband-and-wife team Peter McClelland and Chris Hegenbarth to create such experiences for beginning and advanced sledders of all ages. They founded White Wilderness Sled Dog Adventures to share their love of outdoor activities in general—including camping and fishing—and of sled dogs in particular. As a seasoned guide and cofounder of the Ely Area Mushing Association, McClelland is dedicated to the welfare of sled dogs everywhere. Hegenbarth handles the details, including the baking of the cookies that accompany each sled driver on his or her journey. In the National Geographic book The 100 Best Vacations to Enrich Your Life, author Pam Grout says McClelland and Hegenbarth "don't just sell you a dogsled trip—they adopt you for a few days," making sure guests are warm and well fed.
The couple has gathered together some of the most experienced dog drivers in the north woods, including licensed EMT Erik Danielson and nine-year dogsledding veteran Theo Theobald, who prides herself on seeing more moose than traffic lights in any given month. The company is one of the few sled-dog trip providers that trains its dogs year-round; staffers spend off-season months teaching the dogs to run through an obstacle course and playing hours of Twister to improve their agility.
Amid the lake-speckled country of northwestern Wisconsin and draped over the terrain’s volatile elevation changes rest the bentgrass fairways and greens of Siren National Golf Course. Sculpted into the land in 2001, the course forces players to corral golf balls over terrestrial ripples with peak-to-peak amplitudes of more than 100 feet, but it offers five sets of tees and generous landing areas as a friendly gesture to less experienced players. After starting out with a moderate-length par 5 to warm up, golfers must hit a long uphill shot—206 yards from the back tees—to reach the par 3 third hole’s green, which is fronted by an intimidating rock wall. The designers saved the hardest hole for last, however, as players must make a decision on the 18th tee to use the driver, lay up for a full wedge shot into the small green, or chip onto the back of a carrier pigeon.
Course at a Glance:
Approximately 6,000 years ago, when Sumerian scholars were devising some of mankind's first mathematic systems, a mile-thick sheet of ice began to melt half a world away in the region known today as Minnesota. Slowly, the glacier shrank and poured gallons of water into the land around it, leaving behind gorgeous rock formations dotted with artistic ridges and eye-catching striations. Perhaps most notable of these formations is a structure that resembles a cross, which inspired settlers to name its surrounding river St. Croix, or "holy cross."
Today, modern humans can catch a glimpse of these awesome sights thanks to Wild Mountain. Seasonal activities include skiing, snowboarding, and tubing, where snow-goers explore 100 acres of hills encompassing 26 runs, bunny slopes for newcomers, and four terrain parks for the seasoned veterans. Wild Mountain also holds daily lessons, youth and adult programs, as well as racing competitions and camps run by knowledgable and trained northerners.
Tucked in the cool shadows of old, forest oak trees, St. Croix Valley Golf Course's nine-hole layout invites golfers to swing across 133 acres of rolling topography. Originally sculpted into the woods in 1925, the 3,060-yard course eschews sand traps and favors natural obstacles including ponds, trees, elevation changes, and indigenous photographers who snap their shutters during players' backswings. The golf experts that preside over the pro shop can sharpen swings with lessons, ensure trustworthy equipment with club regripping services, and offer rental clubs so players don't have to hit with the oversized gavel normally used to settle remote control disputes at home.
Course at a Glance: