Crane Lake, MN - ATV Trail Riding Mecca
If you’re an ATV or UTV enthusiast, chances are you already know about the off-road trail system in and around Minnesota’s Crane Lake area. After all, it’s host to a rapidly expanding trail base that’s currently around 250 miles of ATV trail, as well as ground-zero for the largest ATV club in the state of Minnesota. Bruce Beste, owner-operator of nearby Cabins on Crane explains, “If you come up and ride once, there’s no doubt in my mind you’ll be back.”
Well Maintained Scenic Off Road Trails For ATV, UTV, and OHV
There’s not many places in the U.S. with as many amenities or OHV trail-riding attractions in one place. Beste describes the main draw is, “easy riding, gravel-based trails, and some of the most beautiful and varied scenery you can find in the nation.” On the southern end of Canadian Shield country, Crane has plenty of broad, rocky expanses spotted with deep blue lakes, as well as broad valleys traced with some amazing river stretches.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the fully mapped and signed trail system however, is not just the scenery and plentiful deer, bear, moose, and a myriad of other wildlife, but infrastructure that keeps riders coming back. Beste says, “I can take you through 100’s of miles of trails with no mailboxes, and no driveway crossings, but we have premier features along our trails that really stand-out.” Chief among them is the “million-dollar bridge,” a 185 foot long, 12 foot wide single-span steel structure that suspends riders above the sprawling Vermillion River Valley. Complete with overlooks in the middle, the bridge was created exclusively for ATVs.
Bridges, Overlooks, Bars, Restaurants, Lodging, Gas, and More!
Far from the only feature of merit, there’s the Pelican River Overlook, a larger 256 foot wooden bridge across Crane Lake and Vermillion Falls’ beaver pond areas, as well as a fire-tower, and hundreds of scenic go-to’s along the way. Not to mention, there’s dozens of businesses from bar/restaurants, to lodging, gas, and other quick food stops along the way – all of which terminate trail ends or form trail-head beginnings. Beste mentions, “We’ve got incredible support from all the local businesses. Parking is easy, in great supply, and provided directly from our area business partners here – everyone’s onboard.”
Partnering With Voyageur Country ATV
Of course, this OHV trail network doesn’t build itself or get created overnight, it takes hard work, organization, and cooperation. Enter Voyageur Country ATV, a group formed in 2015 from 66 area supporters that has now swelled to over 700 members, far and away the largest ATV club in the state of Minnesota. Beste, who is a co-founder, says the goal is simple, “to provide a safe and responsible experience for all who come to enjoy the trails.” Bruce continues, “we’re not a mud-park, and we promote time in the seat from folks here to enjoy all we have to share.”
Aiming To Be A Top-5 ATV Destination
They have reason to protect all they’ve built, with Voyageur Country ATV receiving millions of dollars to conserve and expand even current operations. That’s right, what’s already an incredible resource plans to offer even more for folks looking to enjoy the outdoors. Additional phases and plans of their trail system hope to see it more than double in size, with lofty goals to connect as faraway places as International Falls, Grand Rapids, Grand Marais, and many more localities, all with Crane Lake being smack in the middle. Beste expects the growing interest and proposed trail expansions to put Crane Lake, MN in the Top-5 for ATV destinations in the entire United States.
Truly, they’re garnering some high praise and grand attention throughout the area. Last September, Voyageur Country ATV pulled off the largest ATV ride and rally held statewide, hosting the Minnesota State Convention while kicking off the new Vermillion River Bridge. With a ribbon (tow-strap) cutting event that drew around 350 people, there were state senators, county commissioners, local representatives, and even a US Congressman in attendance. “We require our Voyageur Country ATV members to also be members of the state organization, so it makes for great partners well beyond our trail system.”
Fully Mapped ATV Trail System and Website To Easily Plan Your Trip
To enjoy the rapidly growing sport, Voyageur Country ATV offers a great trail map and a website designed to help you get the most of your time there. That could involve some day riding, or an entire week where you see few things twice. Beste says, “I could take you on an incredible 130 mile day trip, or we could travel half that and enjoy some great food and scenery both – your choice.” There are plenty of people that enjoy the lakes, but also bring their ATV’s says Beste. He continues, “There’s lots of people here for our 20+ connected lakes playground, but our ATV playground is a huge attraction too.”
It’s proven a safe, and enjoyable way to enjoy some family fun, especially as the UTVs and other larger trail vehicles have become more popular. Beste says, “We’re seeing more and more families join in the fun, and that’s helped the popularity of ATV’ing really grow here.” It keeps people coming back to the area, even during traditionally slow periods of spring and fall, all without taking too much from the area that so many people enjoy. Bruce mentions, “Our ATV’s don’t take too much from our resources either, except a bit of gravel, which we can more easily replace than a crappie or a grouse.”
All of which means that trail-riding in the Crane Lake area isn’t just growing in popularity, it’s fast-becoming one of the main attractions to an area that already has more than its share of crown jewels. With support from all the local businesses, all of whom are also members of the Voyageur Country ATV organization, you’ve got an activity that will only get better with time. It also ensures you’ll have ample places to stay, eat, and recreate in when you’re not on the trails, which can be as much of the experience as time in the seat.
Bring your machines and stay in any of the campgrounds, resorts, or motels in the area. Stay even longer and rent a boat or pontoon from many of the same locations to see the entire Crane Lake, MN from both land and water. You’ll get the best the area has to offer, and be able to experience an outdoor setting that’s both off the beaten path, but accessible and with enough amenities to fully enjoy.
The Crane Lake Visitor & Tourism Bureau can assist you with ground, water, or air transportation, lodging reservations, group planning, meeting facilities, and any special consideration required to accommodate a unique condition or disability.
If you would like more information about the Crane Lake area or to access our Visitors Guide, please visit our Contact Page. Thank you for your interest in our beautiful area.
Crane Lake Visitor & Tourism Bureau
7511 Gold Coast Road
Crane Lake, MN 55725
800-362-7405 · 218-993-2901