Although ice has been forming on the shorelines, bays and shallow areas of Mille Lacs Lake, it’s important to keep in mind that we need more cold nights for the ice to reach adequate thickness, before it’s ready for recreation. There have already been some accidents occurring in Minnesota so we’d like to remind everyone how to know when it’s safe and why it’s important to care!

The DNR recommends anyone heading out on the ice should: carry a set of ice picks, check with local bait shops & resorts and ask about ice conditions and measure the ice for yourself.

Because ice thickness can vary across an area, make sure you check more than one spot.

DNR clear ice thickness recommendations are:

  • 4 inches for walking.
  • 5 inches for a snowmobile or ATV.
  • 8-12 inches for a car.
  • 12-15 inches for a medium-sized truck.

It’s also important to keep an eye on other factors and features of the ice and don’t just rely on ice thickness. Ice safety is determined by assessing the following factors together:

  • Appearance of the ice – its color, texture and features
  • Thickness of the ice – there are recommended thicknesses for different uses, see above
  • External temperature over a period of time and on the day
  • Snow coverage
  • Depth of water under ice
  • Size of water body
  • Local climate fluctuations
  • Wind conditions – excessive wind can move and shift the ice, especially on Mille Lacs

Everyone is chomping at the bit to get out on the ice and enjoy the cold Minnesota weather, whether your favorite activity is snowmobiling, x-country skiing or ice fishing on Lake Mille Lacs.  Let’s all make a point to stay safe and wait until the ice is ready before going out on Mille Lacs.