In Sugar Loaf’s shadow, Winona’s ice park finds a new home

December 18, 2018

One of Winona’s newest winter attractions is relocating.

Monday, the Winona City Council voted unanimously to move the city ice park to a new location in a retired quarry west of Sugar Loaf.

“One of the big advantages of this location is that it’s a previous rock quarry,” outdoor recreation coordinator Ross Greedy said.

In addition to making use of a previously disturbed part of the bluff side, the quarry will offer climbers easier access and a larger staging area.

Greedy said moving the ice park closer to Sugar Loaf — another popular climbing destination — made sense.

The park, which was started with the help of the Minnesota Climbers Association and inspired by similar parks in Colorado and Sandstone Minn., opened to the public in February 2017 at Bluffside Park. The park quickly became a destination for regional — and even a few national — climbers, drawing as many as 20 climbers a day.

However, Bluffside Park was never the city’s first choice.

“The quarry was the original proposed location for the ice park,” he said.

The city was eventually forced to look elsewhere due to property line challenges. Reaching the quarry would have required crossing private property, Greedy explained.

That changed when city staff approached property owners Scott and Deb Birdsall, who agreed to allow the water hoses across a portion of their property.

Water for the park will be supplied by a fire hydrant located on East Garvin Heights Road.

Greedy said that once the temperature drops to between 15 and 25 degrees, water will misted over the rock face using sprinklers until a thick layer of ice forms.

“It’s very similar to making snow,” he said.

The park is expected to open to the public sometime after the new year, but may be delayed due to weather.

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