The Norpine Fat Bike Classic is a fat tire biking event and being that it takes place in the middle of January, it is not for the faint hearted. There are two distances to choose between: a shorter 14-mile course and a longer 20-mile course. It costs $50 to sign up and the registration fee includes a membership to the Norpine Trail Association, entry into a prize drawing (which includes a two night stay at Bluefin Bay!), a bag lunch and some swag.
What’s different this year? With Covid-19, the event has been reimagined. Rather than a one day event, bikers will be able to ride the course anytime between January 23rd-31st. Riders are expected to be prepared with necessary repair equipment as the ride will not have aide stations on the course. You can register here.
If you have a Fat Tire bike and can’t make it during those dates, fear not. There are fat tire biking trails in the area that you can ride on all winter. Check out this map to see where you can ride, and be sure to purchase a trail pass!
Know Before You Go: Lutsen Mountains
Because this winter is a bit different, we thought we’d start a “Know Before You Go” series. As part of this series, we’ll explain what’s open and you need to know…before you go.
This week we wanted to chat about the biggest winter attraction in the area, Lutsen Mountains. Please note that this information is current as of today, December 30th 2020, but that it is changing all the time. For the most updated information, check out Lutsen Mountains website here.
Here is what you need to know before you go to Lutsen Mountains:
Buy Tickets in Advance. Lutsen Mountains has implemented daily capacity limits. This means that busy days will sell out. You can combine lodging and lift tickets by booking a Ski and Stay package or if you would like to stay longer and ski less, book your lift tickets separately from your lodging. You are required to purchase lift tickets and sign your waiver online and then you can pick up your tickets at the Gondola Base ticket office.
Use Your Car as your Basecamp. Because of the current guidelines in Minnesota, the restaurants at the Ski Hill are only open for takeout dining and bathrooms. This means you will be wanting to use your car to warm up and eat meals.
Arrive Together, Ride Together. Stick with your household on lifts. Guests are asked to self-group and load the lifts with their traveling party. Masks and 6 feet of social distancing are required when in lines and on the lifts.
The Rental Shop is Open. You are required to fill out rental forms online in advance and there are capacity limits for the building, so be sure to arrive early!
Other Information that’s Good to Know:
Bathrooms are open
Ski and Snowboard lessons are available
Outdoor seating is allowed with up to 4 people per table, from the same household
At Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, our complimentary rental equipment, knowledgeable Guest Services team, and area attractions create the perfect trifecta to help you enjoy a customized winter adventure. Here’s an overview of our most popular winter activities.
Cross-countryskiing: With more than 400 km of Nordic ski trails in Cook County, you’ll never run out of places to explore. Check out complimentary cross-country ski equipment and explore the area trails at your leisure or join one of our free guided ski excursions.
Snowshoeing: Winter hiking is at its best up here. Explore the great North Woods with our complimentary snowshoes. Ask for a trail map at Guest Services or join one of our free guided snowshoe hikes.
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding: Bluefin Bay offers complimentary shuttles to Lutsen Mountains Lutsen Mountains is the biggest & best ski resort in the Midwest. Check out our Ski & Stay Packages to get the best deal on ski and snowboard vacations.
Ice skating rinks at Bluefin Bay and Surfside are a hit with families and friends alike. Check out a pair of complimentary ice skates at Guest Services. We also offer hockey nets, sticks and pucks to sign out. End your skating time at one of our evening bonfires complete with s’mores…of course!
Nightly campfire and s’mores at Bluefin Bay and Pick up your complimentary s’mores packet at Guest Services.
Creative Kids Club– Join us as we get crafty building birdhouses and decorating them with a variety of craft supplies! Parents are encouraged to join in on the fun!
NEW! Craft Mini-Courses: We are excited to offer new mini-courses onsite as part of our resort winter Activities program! The courses are completely free and will introduce guests to the element of Northern craft. In February and March, we’ll be offering an Intro to Alcohol Ink Painting Class.
NEW!Fiber by the Fireplace: Join us at the Bluefin Bay guest services lobby for a relaxed evening with like-minded fiber artists! Bring a project you are working on and gather around the fire with a local fiber artist to share stories, work on projects, and soak up creative inspiration from others. All levels and abilities are encouraged to bring your fiber projects like knitting, crochet, needlepoint, etc. If you do not have a project to bring you can still join and learn the art of Kumihimo – a Japanese form of braiding! Our visiting local artist will also bring needles and hooks to use, plus yarn for sale if needed.
Yoga: Offered on Wednesday and Saturday mornings and all levels encouraged to attend.
Special Winter Offers for Extraordinary Winter Adventures
It’s time to decompress from the busy holiday season, make plans for the new decade, and embrace all that winter can provide. After all, Cozy evenings by the fire, bright blue skies, crisp snow-filled days, and time enjoying winter adventures is what these winter months are all about.
Make the most of your winter getaway with our special offers and packages available in January and February:
JANUARY 3 for 2 SPECIAL:Valid Dates: Jan. 1 – Jan. 31, 2020. Enjoy winter at its absolute best! Stay three nights at any of our Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts and receive one of those nights completely FREE!
WINTER 4 for 3 SPECIAL: Valid Dates: Feb. 1-March 22, 2020. Stay four nights and receive one of those nights completely FREE!
WINTER ADVENTURE SPECIAL: NEW WINTER OFFER! Valid Feb. 2-March 5, 2020. This winter, we’re offering our popular 3-2 special midweek for those who want to head north to ski, skate, board, sled, swim, climb, dance, explore, shop. Stay three nights midweek (Sunday-Thursday) and receive one of those nights completely FREE — in peak winter!
WINTER MIDWEEK 25:Valid Feb. 2-March 5, 2020. Stay two nights midweek (Sunday-Thursday) and receive 25% off. Yep, that’s 25% off our winter rates during peak winter!
SKI & STAY PACKAGES: Enjoy Lakeside Views & Slope-Side Access! For those who love to downhill ski at Lutsen Mountains and stay at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, you’ll want to book a Ski & Stay Package for the best deal.
The Ski Season Has Begun!
It’s official! The Lutsen Mountains ski season has begun. This past weekend marked the beginning of the 2019-2020 season with continued weekend only hours through December 8th. After that, they will be open daily starting on December 13th. Up here in Cook County, we had some nice early season snow and ideal temps for snowmaking. It looks like it is going to be an excellent winter for skiing on Minnesota’s North Shore!
Stay up to date with conditions on the Lutsen Mountains website. Check out their live cam to see the current conditions. Not to mention it’s a great way to spend some time daydreaming about your next North Shore winter vacation! New this year, Lutsen Mountains has added a radio frequency RFID ticketing system which will offer greater convenience for skiers and new lodging packaging opportunities.
Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts is the perfect home base for your skiing and snowboarding adventure! Take advantage of our Ski and Stay Packages for the best deals. We offer FREE daily shuttles to and from the base of the mountain, frustration-free equipment rental at our neighboring Sawtooth Outfitters, and a variety of can’t-be-beat Ski & Stay Packages.
See you on the slopes!
How Much Snow On The North Shore? The Most In The State!
Do you see that pretty little purple area on the map? That’s us! At the present time, it’s showing snow depths of 30 – 36 inches. We have the snow!
If you love outdoor winter activities then the Lutsen-Tofte area is the place to be. After all, we have the most snow in the state! We often get asked how much snow we have and how the trail conditions are for winter adventures. We know it can be hard to believe we have so much snow compared to other places in Minnesota. For this reason, we’re listing some great online tools to assist you with your winter vacation planning.
Are the skinny ski trails more your thing? With some of the best cross-country skiing in the country, it’s no wonder people choose Cook County for their cross-country ski trips. The Sugarbush Trail system connects directly to the resort and has 65 kilometers of groomed skate and classic ski trails from beginner to expert. Visit the Sugarbush Trail Report to stay up to date on conditions. The Norpine Trails in the Lutsen area is another beautiful ski system not to be missed. They also have some trails opened to Fat Tire Biking! Find more information, trail maps, and trail conditions here. As a guest at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, you also have the option to sign up for a complimentary guided ski trip to the Sugarbush or Norpine Trails. In addition, all ski equipment is included!
Prefer to cruise the trails on a snowmobile? Cook County has more than 400 miles to explore! You’ll find trails close to Lake Superior and trails that lead you into some of the most remote places in Minnesota. Visit the Visit Cook County website for a nice overview or check out the Cook County Snow Mobile Club – Ridge Riders website. This group is dedicated to maintaining these wonderful trails.
The handy snow depths map to the right is created and updated by the Minnesota DNR and a great tool when planning your winter getaways.
The Winter Fishwrapper Newsletter Is Here!
Winter is special here on Minnesota’s North Shore and we like to wrap up the upcoming season’s favorite adventures, special events, and new resort activities in a semiannual newsletter. It’s a great way to get inspired and plan your next Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts getaway. The Fishwrapper is also the perfect place for us to share stories featuring the unique vibe, people and landscape that make Cook County an exceptional place to vacation and live.
Don’t miss the great story by one of our favorite local photographers, Tom Spence. He has a special gift (and unparalleled patience) for capturing images of the local wildlife and offers a few tips plus locations for spotting moose…Thanks, Tom!
Outdoor winter adventures are front and center throughout the newsletter. Discover one of our new guided activities, staff favorites, or relive fond memories of your past Up North winter experiences.
Get to know the ‘locals’ from near and far! In this newsletter, we wanted to share how Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts and Cook County is meeting the labor shortage head-on. We’re thinking outside the box with a Puerto Rico recruitment effort and local culinary program to provide well-trained and long-term employees.
Trail Reports: Two Thumbs Up!
March is here with the North Shore seeing the most snow cover in the state, longer days, and higher temps. It’s time to get outside! Here’s an update on the area trail conditions and resources for planning your late-winter getaway:
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: The local Sugarbush Trails have a nice packed base of 6-12 inches of snow with all groomed trails open and in good condition. With 65 kilometers of groomed trails and direct access to Bluefin Bay on Lake Superior, you’ll enjoy all the opportunities to explore and discover this beautiful area on skis.
Cook County has 400 kilometers of cross-country ski trails making it the largest network of trails in North America. The current overall trail base in the area ranges from 6-25 inches creating some of the greatest groomed trails we’ve had in years. Check out the Visit Cook County website to discover all the wonderful trail systems to be explored in our area.
DOWNHILL SKIING: Recent large snowfalls have made for some epic ski and snowboard days. Lutsen Mountains has a snow base of 30-60 inches on all primary runs and they’ve reported enough of a base to be open through April! With 4 mountains and 95 runs, the whole family will enjoy skiing or snowboarding at the Midwest’s only true mountain ski area experience.
We provide free shuttles to the base of the mountain and you’ll love the Ski and Stay Packages for the best deals.
HIKING & SNOWSHOEING: Winter hiking is a favorite activity here on the North Shore and trails are in great condition right now. Just after a snowfall, you can strap on a pair of snowshoes (complimentary rentals for guests) to trek through the deeper snow. Many trails that you enjoy in the summer are packed and accessible during the winter – a good pair of winter boots and ice grips are all that you need to experience a walk through the snowy woods and views of stunning winter vistas from atop a mountain. Let our activities staff show you the way on a guided hike, snowshoe or river hiking adventure! Visit our Resort Activities & Events page for details on our guided adventures.
SNOWMOBILING: Explore the Lake Superior shoreline plus inland woods and lakes on the endless miles of groomed snowmobile trails in our area. Local snowmobile clubs are reporting excellent conditions on the trails and many riders are reporting the best riding they’ve had in a long time. The Cook County Snowmobile Club has updated trail conditions and maps for the local trails. Visit the North Shore Visitor website for info on snowmobile trails all along Highway 61.
See you on the trails!
Oberg Mountain Loop
Holidays at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts
The stars are shining brightly during these dark skies of December, the cozy fires are ready for a winter evening, and Lake Superior’s North Shore is radiant with holiday lights and festive cheer. There are so many things to love about this time of year. Of course, a favorite activity of all is sitting by a cozy fire with a festive drink in hand and a front row seat to the show that the Big Lake puts on. Here at Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, we’ve put together a list of some of our other favorite activities and events that bring us joy during the holiday season.
NEW OUTDOOR GUIDED ACTIVITIES! On December 23rd and the 30th we’ll be offering a new activity: Wilderness Bonfire Adventure Hike! Join us for a 3.5-mile hike, Beginning at Sugar Loaf and ending at Caribou Falls where we will get to stop half way at Crystal Creek to build a bonfire and have a wintery treat (S’mores & Hot Chocolate) before we head to the Caribou River where we can explore the top and base of Caribou Falls!
DOWNHILL SKIING! Downhill skiing is already in full swing in our neck of the woods. Lutsen Mountains is open daily starting on December 15th and they have reported 12 inches of snow in the last 7 days! For those who love to downhill ski and stay at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, you’ll want to book a Ski & Stay Package for the best deal. We offer FREE daily shuttles to and from the base of the mountain, frustration-free equipment rental at our neighboring Sawtooth Outfitters, and a variety of Can’t-be-beat Ski & Stay Packages.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING! Spectacular scenery, varied terrain, and abundant snow add up to some of the best cross-country skiing in the country. Trails in the immediate Lutsen-Tofte area total more than 150km and are groomed with the best available equipment. During your stay, join us on a tranquil guided trip along the Poplar River. Amongst the mountains of Lutsen, this calm section of the Poplar provides amazing views. All skill levels welcome. Complimentary cross-country skis are available in our recreation center.
KIDS ADVENTURE CLUB! Join us for a series of NEW Activities created especially to enhance your child’s Northwood’s Adventure Experience! From Finding “Fairy Stones” & creating necklaces to taking an Adventure Hike to track and identify our Northwood’s Wildlife. Also, relax with a hot cup of cocoa and at our Guest Services Building and learn all about how Northwood’s animals survive in our colder harsh climate.
DINING WITH A VIEW AND HOLIDAY SPECIALS! After a day spent outdoors head to the Bluefin Grille for a cozy dinner or apps and cocktails with the most breathtaking views available on the North Shore of Lake Superior. The Bluefin Grille will be closed on Christmas Eve but open on Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve serving a full menu until 9 pm and a Late Night Menu until 11pm. Visit the Bluefin Grille page for full menus as well as a list of holiday specials you won’t want to miss!
AREA ACTIVITIES & LIVE MUSIC! The Bluefin Grille will host live musicians between Christmas and New Year’s. Visit the Activities and Events page for dates and the musician line-up. Cook County is fortunate to have a thriving music scene year-round spanning all musical genres and settings from intimate to large venues. Check out the Visit Cook County Event Calendar for live music and event happenings.
Wishing you all the joys of the season and happiness throughout the coming year.
~ Happy Holidays from all of us at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts!
New Resort Activity: December Lecture Series!
Here at the Bluefin Bay Family of Resorts, we are always looking for new experiences and activities for our guests: those that reflect the lifestyle and opportunities unique to Minnesota’s North Shore. One new activity we’ve recently added is our December Lecture Series which we are hosting along with the owners of Grand Marais based Spirit Guiding Adventures!
The next lecture series presentation will be on Friday, December 15th. Join us for this free resort guest activity with the theme of ‘Human Powered Travel through the Winter Landscape’. Matthew Baxley Of Spirit Guiding Adventures will cover the importance of appropriate layering in sub-freezing temperatures as well as how to assess snow and ice conditions to choose the best method of wilderness travel. Learn to stay safe, comfortable and find the winter wilderness magic.
You will also have the opportunity to ask questions regarding outdoor adventures you’ve been curious about or technical questions related to gear and equipment.
Learn more about Spirit Guiding Adventures and their amazing guided trips and tours here.Whether you’re a newbie or pro, their guided adventures are geared toward any experience level. They take care of the details so you can connect with the surroundings.