If I do make it to Voyageurs National Park, I’d hope to take one of the boat tours the park offers for a fee. As the photo info states, “Enjoy a relaxing voyage aboard one of Voyageur’s tour boats. Cruise the lakes through the beautiful scenery, stopping to visit historic sites, while keeping a sharp lookout for the abundant wildlife found in the park.” 
PHOTO COURTESY VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK
If I do make it to Voyageurs National Park, I’d hope to take one of the boat tours the park offers for a fee. As the photo info states, “Enjoy a relaxing voyage aboard one of Voyageur’s tour boats. Cruise the lakes through the beautiful scenery, stopping to visit historic sites, while keeping a sharp lookout for the abundant wildlife found in the park.” PHOTO COURTESY VOYAGEURS NATIONAL PARK

As a strange, fairly warm January rain turns colder to snow – and roads and sidewalks turn treacherous – I find myself thinking of the future. It is, after all, a nice escape from the unpleasant present weather.

What kinds of things will be happening in 2018 that you might like to know about? Then you can start planning and maybe even making reservations before things are booked up.

For me, initial enthusiasm for a group camping trip to Utah with other Minnesotans left me a bit lukewarm when details were set. I admire the diligent work of getting everything in place. But the dates didn’t work well for me. Also, I didn’t want to camp exclusively in commercial RV parks, as was set up

 National parks don’t seem to have nice, modern shower facilities. I don’t know why, but it’s true. The point was drilled in last summer during stays at Wind Cave and Theodore Roosevelt national parks in the Dakotas. I really enjoy amenities of the parks, like beautiful, wild horses roaming in the campgrounds (in the latter) and walking from camp to the nighttime ranger programs. Meanwhile, it’s also true that a stay at the KOA by Devils Tower National Monument, as opposed to the park’s campground, provided modern restroom and shower facilities at numerous locations, one very close to the campsite. You’ve got to get clean once in a while. And the facility also housed a much-needed Laundromat. I like splitting time between these campground opposites. And I still do need a trip to Utah at some point.

Whether or not it’s this year, Voyageurs National Park on the Minnesota-Canada border is at least on my radar. It would be another national park to cross off my “visited” list. I also want to see it before any mining might start in the area and disturb the natural environment or possibly pollute and even ruin it. Regulations were just changed at the federal level that could allow mining adjacent to that park and Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Any mining would take some time to get started, but the unknown future has moved up the priority of getting north. I’ve already done a short canoe trip in Boundary Waters, plus canoeing is now probably out with my physical limitations – well, unless I can make like a queen and have others paddle the boat… hmmm, plus maybe have someone fan me, haha.

A trip to Voyageurs would likely mean making the hop and skip across the border since I now have a passport. That could evolve west to the prairies and maybe even to Canada’s Rockies and Banff National Park. Or, maybe a trip east around Lake Superior and possibly more Great Lakes would follow? It’s a good time to dream.

So, what other kinds of things are out there?

Badlands National Park is a perennial favorite of mine, so let’s take a look. No details are given yet, but special events for 2018 listed at this time are: Discover Badlands, June 20; Badlands Astronomy Festival, July 6 – 8; Badlands Heritage Celebration, Aug. 18 and19; and Founder's Day, Aug. 25. I was able to look through a large telescope at the park once; I imagine the Astronomy Festival would be fun.

Since I seem to like such gatherings, I see the 25th annual Nebraska Star Party – held at Merritt Reservoir southwest of Valentine, Neb. – is set for Aug. 5-10. Registration is open this month. Get details here, www.nebraskastarparty.org/. The barely visible sunset at 11 p.m. and the amazing Milky Way seen with my naked eye when camped there one overnight keep promising me many further delights, if only I’d return and stay a few days. I do like that area.

Looking at the U.S. Department of Interior website over the past year, I noted a celebration coming up in 2018 that will involve lots of locations, with lots of info to come.

Here you go: “In 2018, America will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act as well as the Wild and Scenic Rivers Act. Join the celebration by sharing your stories, photos, or favorite memories, or by simply getting out on the trail – and maybe bringing along a friend,” says the proclamation at this website link, www.trails50.org/. Go there to get an overview; see what might be happening where you’re already planning to go, or set up a trip around an event.

There you have it — some ideas for your 2018 trips (yes, albeit with a smidgeon of bias toward my interests). But you may find something to pursue. Better yet, I hope you’ll set aside time these long winter nights to think about your dream destinations and start planning.

Lisa Brainard still enjoys lifelong pursuits of the outdoors, history and travel following a serious accident and stroke in September 2012. She’s written this column weekly for about 15 years.