Exploring International Falls – Smokey Bear and Cubs
Part two: A few of weeks ago, I wrote about the Big Vic the Voyageur sculpture in the small town of Ranier. You can read about it here. This week we head a couple of miles away to International Falls to learn about America’s favorite forest ranger, Smokey Bear.
Built in 1953 by Gordon Shumaker, Smokey Bear measures 26 feet tall! The U.S. Forest Service created the character of Smokey Bear in 1944 to educate people about the dangers of forest fires. Smokey and his cubs are made out of fiberglass, an extremely strong material composed of plastic and fibers of glass that can be easily molded into different forms. Smokey and his family are located in Smokey Bear Park, at the corner of 3rd Street and 6th Avenue.
There’s tons to do in International Falls if you’re planning a Minnesota vacation. Visit one of it’s eight parks including Kerry Park, which features a skate park, tennis and basketball courts, softball field and two playgrounds. There is also access to the Blue Ox State Trail, a multi use dirt trail for ATVs, horse back riding, mountain biking, and hiking. The trail runs 74 miles from International falls to Funkley and passes through Pine Island State Forest.
Another really cool park is City Beach. It has everything you need for a family vacation. There is a another amazing sandy beach with a life guard on duty. You will also find picnic areas and outdoor grills, basketball and volleyball courts, and a playground. Best of all, there’s a great campground, with sites costing just $10 per night!
Museums and Historical Places
After you see Smokey, learn about the area’s local history at the Koochiching Historical Museum. The Bronko Nagurski Museum pays tribute to Bronko Nagurski, a great NFL football player who grew up in International Falls. Both museums are located next to the Smokey Bear sculpture.
International Falls is known for being one of the coldest places in the state of Minnesota. This does not deter the locals from having fun and enjoying the elements. Join them in celebrating Icebox Days, which features a Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run, moonlight snowshoeing, and even a toilet seat toss! Learn more about it at these links:
- City of International Falls
- International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
- Koochiching Historical Society
- Bronko Nagurski Museum
- Blue Ox State Trail