By Rob Everingham
Don't let the lack of snow in Havre fool you. Beaver Creek Park has plenty of snow, particularly in southern areas for February is filled with great winter activities.
There is ice fishing. Beaver Creek Reservoir, the first lake coming out of Havre, is an ice house village these days with ice fishing and spear fishing activities. Folks fishing and spearing there catch northern pike, perch and an occasional trout.
Bear Paw Lake, the upper Beaver Creek Park Lake has had a goodly number of ice fisherman lately too. That lake is a trout fisherman's delight and fishermen tell that if fish are not biting in one hole, just move a few feet away.
Overall in the park, fishing has not been spectacular but fish are being caught.
Lately with the high winds out in Beaver Creek Park, a new sport is being performed. Skaters are on Bear Paw Lake armed with nylon type colorful parachutes. Hoist one up and away the recreationalist goes from one end of the ice to the other as fast as the wind blows. Some people buy parachutes to use. Others make their own. Whatever the case, they are having fun on Bear Paw Lake.
Sledding in the park is just made for speed these days because in addition to snow on mountainsides, there is plenty of ice to increase momentum. Only cautions are be careful and don't get out of control with barbed wire fences looming up in front of the sled or the highway either. These days sleds cannot stop when hitting highways and neither can cars so be careful. In the Kiwanis Camp area there are plenty of north sloped hills full of snow and drifts that make for great sledding.
In the mountains there has been new snow lately a couple of times a week and it has been falling in Havre as well. One morning when there is new snow in Havre, get the family up, drive to a Beaver Creek Park meadow and just after dawn practice tracking and identifying park animals from their tracks.
Deer are easy to find and tracking them is a great learning situation for identifying the ways of deer. In snow around meadows and forests close to Beaver Creek, porcupine, beaver, otter, muskrat, coyote, fox, and lion are a few tracks that can be easy to see and identify.
This is a good time of the year out in the park to study the habits of golden eagles, various hawks and owls, all who can be seen during winter's short days.
From Mooney's Coulee, south to the end of the park, cross country and snowmobile trails are not bad. However, those trails change from day to day, going from excellent to poor just by how much wind is blowing and how warm it is getting. On the adjacent Rocky Boy Reservation area there are snowmobile trails and cross country trails, even better because of additional snow in that part of the mountains.
Winter hikes should be great this winter, not having to use skies or snow shoes because of mild snow conditions. Winter, for those who like to hike into snake country but not see any snakes, is the time to really explore the beauties of lower Beaver Creek Park. However, hiking conditions are not as great as they seem due to an abundance of ice this winter caused by extreme temperature changes.
And don't miss downhill skiing at the Bear Paw Ski Bowl. Conditions there are reported as excellent.
February is just a good of time to take the family and really explore Beaver Creek Park and the Rocky Boy Recreation areas. They both are fee areas. For further information call park headquarters at 395-4565 or Rocky Boy Natural Resources at 395-4083.