STEEL AND STONE [ Iron Range ] It’s finally open. This winter, snowmobilers will be able to take their first ride across the long-awaited new Highway 53 bridge spanning Virginia’s Rocheleau Pit. With a dedicated lane for snowmobiles, the 1,100-foot-long bridge is a game-changer for the Range, which offers a vast array of trails in some of Minnesota’s most scenic and challenging riding terrain. This marvel adds an incomparable experience to the region’s many thrills. High above the water-filled mining pit, the bridge provides big views of Minnesota’s industrial history. The huge expanse of exposed red rocks, set against a backdrop of northern boreal forests, is a sight to behold. Snowmobilers will want to get updated versions of area maps, because the bridge construction process rerouted a number of local trails and roads, dramatically reconfiguring the area’s travel patterns to center on the new crossing. ROAD TRIP ATTRACTIONS The Iron Range area’s snowmobile trails all eventually lead to Lake Vermilion-Soudan Underground State Park. Minnesota’s newest state is still in development, and each year brings new amenities. Scenic overlooks, historic sites, and snowmobile trails that cross the park and its huge, beautiful, and undeveloped lake make this a special place to ride. You’ll have to come back in summer to catch a mine tour. Eveleth is home to the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame, where you can see inspiring tributes to the sport’s legendary players — many of whom grew up playing on the Range’s ponds and rinks — and displays that chronicle the development of the sport. Few people know that the bus industry originated on the Range. The Greyhound Bus Museum in Hibbing chronicles the development of this classic transportation system, with 13 historical buses, plus uniforms, advertising materials and a World War II exhibit. Bob Dylan grew up in Hibbing. You can get a selfie in front of the Nobel Prizewinning musician’s childhood home on Bob Dylan Drive, and visit the town library and Hibbing High School, which both feature small exhibits with Dylan memorabilia. Visit Honk the Moose in Biwabik’s city park on the main drag. The life-sized statue is based on the 1936 children’s book inspired by an actual moose who befriended children in this Range town. GREAT TRAILS More than 1,000 miles of trails cross Minnesota’s Iron Range region. Two major trail systems, the Arrowhead and the Taconite trails, form the backbone of the region’s riding opportunities, and dozens of smaller runs give you the chance to take the road less traveled. In 2016, the Arrowhead Trail was renamed to honor the late Representative David Dill, who championed the Range region as an outdoor recreation destination. The David Dill — Arrowhead Trail runs 135 miles, from International Falls to Tower, where it intersects with the Taconite Trail. This wide, well-marked, multi-use route is shared by cross-country skiers, (Photo by Dan Vertina/Ash River Kabetogama Snowmobile Club) dogsledders and fat-tire bikes, and is ideal for group rides. The trail crosses through bogs and pine forests, winding through remote lakes and river country where moose, lynx, fox and wolves might cross the trail. The southern stretch displays classic Canadian Shield landscape, with rugged hills, rocky terrain and huge boulders. Frequent trail shelters offer opportunities to rest and revel in this region’s beauty. The Taconite Trail runs 165 miles from Grand Rapids to Ely, and travels through Bear Head Lake, McCarthy Beach state parks along the way and three state forests. Recent changes now permit mixed use along portions of the trail, including ATVs and OHVs, horses, bicycles and cross-country skiing. Riders can expect scenic tours of birch, aspen and pine forests, with scenic (Photo by Swampsiders Snowmobile Club, Bigfor k) passes along remote lakes and rivers. The Swampsiders Snowmobile Club has a clubhouse in the George Washington State Forest, and visitors are welcome to stop by on Saturdays to check out their vintage snowmobile collection. The 25-mile Aurora Trail runs between Biwabik and Hoyt Lakes and passes two defunct ore mine pits and a former Civilian Conservation Corp camp. Roly-poly terrain makes for an active ride, and a northern offshoot runs to the Giants Ridge area. Here, increased elevations and deep snow make for challenging and thrilling territory in the Superior National Forest. (Photo by Swampsiders Snowmobile Club, Bigfork) SELFIE SPOT - CAN THE VAN Invest a dollar, pick a date and if the van falls through the ice on your date, win $100. Find this funny bucket of rust on Long Lake, not too far from the Swampsiders snowmobile clubhouse. 8 Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations