Okoboji in the snow


We spent a cozy three day holiday weekend in a yellow cottage overlooking frozen West Okoboji Lake, staying with friends. It was cold and snowy, glorious when the sun came out and the sky was blue. Fishing huts on the ice, a patch of snow cleared from the frozen lake for red-cheeked kids to skate, geese alighting, deer in the woods and the occasional cross country skier, snow shoer and ski-doo.

Near gull point state park, okoboji
The Fish House

I’ve been to okoboji (part of the Iowa Great Lakes, a resort since the 1800s for visitors from Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota) in the summer, when it’s packed with partying boaters and swimmers, crowded bars and beaches and amusement rides. But never when it was so cold and quiet.

My friend grew up here so she took me on a great driving tour through various beachside neighborhoods. We only went in one place, the very cool Fish House near Arnold’s park, a rustic shack on a floating barge (that in the summer sets off into the lake.) it was full of families in winter gear, some taking a break from ice skating, eating popcorn and drinking. Some fishing poles rested beside a rectangular fishing hole in the lake’s ice, with murky green water, in the middle of the shack near a wood burning stove. No masks worn except by us, despite a sign requiring them. Oh well.

Ice fishing and ice skating outside the Fish House

Some highlights:

Gulf Point State Park (near our friend’s place) with a cool CCC stone lodge

Abbie Gardner Memorial and cabin; Pillsbury Point, O’Farrell Sisters (old cafe) near the Fish House; Omaha Beach, Pikes Point, bar near Pioneer Beach Resort on east okoboji Lake; hike at Kettleson Hogsback near Big Spirit Lake, consignment store in Spirit Lake.

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