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Discover Winter in Sunset Country

Footbridge at Rushing River Provincial Park in Ontario's Sunset Country • Credit: Gerry Cariou
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Discover Winter in Sunset Country

Skiing, ice fishing, and snowmobiling await in this snowy Northwest Ontario paradise

In Sunset Country, winter is the most magical time of year. Check out these five frosty adventures and discover why our region is your perfect 2022 destination.

Let it Snow!

This may be a Canadian thing, but we take pride in looking our long winter straight in the eye and refusing to let it dampen our enjoyment of the great outdoors. Think about it: when temperatures are below freezing almost half the year, a person would go stir-crazy if they tried to stay indoors and wait it out. So in Canada, when winter arrives, we get outside and have fun.

Ice fishing is a a must-do during a Sunset Country winter

Whether you're a local or a curious traveller considering a visit, winter in Sunset Country offers endless opportunities for adventure. This pristine corner of Northwest Ontario is one of the most beautiful places to experience a Canadian winter. Who knows, you just may have so much fun that you'll make another trip back next winter. Read on to discover the top things to do in Sunset Country this winter.

1. Go Ice Fishing

Crappie are easiest to catch through the ice and taste delicious right out of the lake

Most people come here to fish in the spring, summer, and fall, but winter opens up a wide range of angling activities (and lakes) that are not available to most anglers during the open water season—unless you happen to own a floatplane. Sunset Country is known for its amazing ice fishing opportunities–anglers come for the trophy-sized catches and the variety of species including walleye, pikelake trout, crappie, and perch. Once the ice freezes solid, you can get out and go ice fishing on lakes that are inaccessible in summer, and you can fish virtually any spot on the lakes you already know. 

Being well-prepared is key to enjoying a fun day on the ice with your friends or family. 

Tips for safe and successful ice fishing in Sunset Country

  • Keeping your hands, feet, and head warm is important. A snowmobile suit with matching boots is the best choice to stay warm.
  • Always let a person not accompanying you know where you'll be fishing and what time to expect you back. Ask them to call you to ensure everyone made it home safe and sound.
  • Bring some food so you can snack on the ice, as well as a couple of thermoses of hot liquid—your choice of beverage.
  • Know the ice conditions before you venture out on the ice.
  • Investing in a good ice auger can save a lot of effort.
  • A good tent can keep you warm on the coldest days.
  • New to the sport? There are lots of guides and lodges offering ice fishing packages so consider that if you're a novice.

2. discover Snowmobiling

Local snowmobile clubs ensure a safe and smooth ride on groomed trails

With an extensive system of groomed and marked snowmobile trails, Ontario is one of the best places on the planet to enjoy snowmobiling. In Northern Ontario, we have guaranteed snow for at least three months every winter, so the conditions are usually awesome. Even better, we have some of the least congested trails in the province. Before you ride, make sure you buy a trail permit from the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC), which supports the trail association and the cost of grooming and maintaining the trails.

3. go Skiing

Your kids will have a blast at the local ski hills

While there are no mountain ranges in Sunset Country, with the Canadian Shield we have some decent smaller ski hills that downhill skiers, snowboarders, or other gravity goons like tubers can enjoy. There are ski hills in AtikokanKenora, Dryden, and Thunder Bay

For cross-country skiers, the opportunities to enjoy the boreal forest are endless, as most summer hiking trails are cross-country ski trails during the winter months. Plan a day or weekend trip to explore the trails in and around Kenora, Dryden, Atikokan, Fort Frances, or Red Lake.

4. StarGaze & catch the Aurora Borealis

The Aurora Borealis is something everyone should see at least once in their lifetime

Between December and March, cloudless, high-pressure weather systems get stuck over the center of North America—which means the temperature drops but the skies are amazingly clear here in Sunset Country. These systems can stay in place for several weeks, which makes winter here the best place for stargazing. If you're fortunate, you may even experience the Aurora Borealis. You'll need to drink some coffee, as stargazing and viewing the Northern Lights are late-night activities, but if you've never experienced this spectacle, you will be awestruck by the deep green, purple, and even blue lights of this celestial wonder. Here are some tips to help you spot the Northern Lights

Planning your winter vacation in sunset country 

Sunset Country offers a variety of accommodations for every kind of traveller. Whether you're a local looking for the perfect staycation drive-to lodge or a first-time visitor looking to experience the hospitality of a fly-in resort, this Northwest Ontario winter wonderland is ready to welcome you. 


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