The Treaty of Paris (1783), concluded between the United States and Great Britain at the end of the American Revolutionary War, stated that the boundary between U.S. territory and the British possessions to the north would run "...through the Lake of the Woods to the most northwestern most point thereof, and from thence on a due west course to the river Mississippi..." The parties did not suspect that the source of the Mississippi, Lake Itasca, was south of that point. Consequently the Northwest Angle is the result of 18th-century ignorance of geography. In the Anglo-American Convention of 1818, the error was corrected by having the boundary run due south from the northwest point of the lake to the 49th parallel and then westward along it. When this north-south line was surveyed, it was found to intersect other bays of the lake and therefore cut off a portion of U.S. territory, now known as the Northwest Angle.
The Angle is one of only four non-island locations in the 48 contiguous states not directly connected to them by land within the country, the others being nearby Elm Point, Minnesota (which is uninhabited); Alburgh, Vermont (which is bridged to New York state and Vermont by US Route 2); Point Roberts, Washington (which is two hours by motorboat from Bellingham, despite being an outer Vancouver BC suburb in all but nationality). It's also the northernmost US point outside Alaska (and the Alaskan Panhandle has its own quirky places like Hyder, Skagway and Haines where ― while they're not truly exclaves of Alaska ― the only road for intrastate travel leads abroad).
The only overland access to these points is through Canada. That's a problem, given the restrictions on non-essential international travel imposed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020-21. Fetch the float planes, fetch the boats!
Intrastate float or ski plane service is available directly to Angle Inlet from International Falls.
- Lake Country Air, 5000 Minnesota Ave, Duluth, ☏ , email@example.com. Seasonal round-trip service to the lodge of your choice on Lake of the Woods, from Baudette or Warroad. One hour (each way). $250/person, max 6 persons, max 50 lbs/person of baggage.
Angle Inlet is most easily accessed through Canada by road. From the Trans Canada Highway (MB-1) take MB-308 South to MB-525 East. Stop for an interesting unstaffed 1 Border Crossing at Jim's Corner by phone or webcam. Very unique, bring a camera. MB-525 East becomes Winter Road which takes you directly in to Angle Inlet.
During the COVID-19 pandemic: Residents of the Northwest Angle are mostly being allowed to use the Manitoba road to reach Warroad, Minnesota but the same exemption does not extend to visitors. The US continues to refuse non-essential travel by non-citizens except by air; Canada applies multiple restrictions to Americans including full vaccination, a PCR test within 72 hours before departure and advance registration using the ArriveCAN website or app. The same restrictions will apply when leaving the Angle; you or your vehicle will be stranded if you can't get back into Manitoba. The Canadian loophole is only available to US citizens or permanent residents coming from the US. Ability to return to the Lower 48 is dependent on being able to get another PCR test while on the Angle. Minnesota did send a couple of testing machines up on 10 Aug 2021, but you may want to verify with your hosts that testing will be available.
An ice road was constructed across Lake of the Woods by locals for the Winter 2020-21 season ($140/trip or $500/season), but it is unclear whether this will be repeated during subsequent winters.
Not quite crazy enough to attempt to take a street vehicle onto the ice road, but not quite sane enough to stay home? Perhaps taking a snowmobile onto the frozen lake would, seasonally, be an option. When the ice road was in seasonal operation, the Northwest Angle Edge Riders club was able to get through from Warroad, Minnesota to the Northwest Angle on their machines in about 45 minutes.
You can reach the angle without crossing the international border by crossing the Lake of the Woods. This can be done by aircraft, by boat when the lake is free of ice, or by ice road in the winter months. Since there are no automobile ferries operating on the lake, vehicles coming from the rest of Minnesota can only reach the Angle without crossing the border in winter. While the ice is forming in late autumn and breaking up in the spring the lake's surface cannot be safely crossed – at these times domestic access to the Angle is possible only by air.
The crossing by boat includes more than twenty-five miles of open water, which (predictably) may be rough. Not all vessels are up to the task; anything small enough to be towed with a car and trailer (while a popular choice were the road open through Manitoba) is likely too small. Some charter or taxi vessels were taking passengers from "mainland" Minnesota to the Angle during the summer of 2020, for a fee. That won't get your vehicle to the Angle, but it will get you there without leaving Minnesota.
- Lake of the Woods Passenger Service (Gregg Hennum), Sportsman's Lodge, 3244 Bur Oak Rd NW, Baudette, ☏ . on demand, by reservation, daytime only. 27' charter boat from Rainy River to Oak Island, Flag Island, Northwest Angle and area in summer, snowmobile crossing in winter. Runs intrastate from Sportsman's Lodge in Baudette, daylight only, 75 lb baggage limit per passenger, approx 1½ hours each way. $450 each way, for up to six people.
Any attempt to enter directly from Canada relies on the Reporting Offsite Arrival-Mobile (ROAM) app to report to US Customs. Some of the resorts have preloaded the app onto tablet computers. As of 2018, valid listed check-in locations for this app included Brush Island, Carlson's Landing, Pine Creek Landing and Young's Bay on the Northwest Angle, as well as a few individual islands on Lake of the Woods. US Customs is also available by telephone on ☏ or ☏ .
Angle Inlet is easily seen on foot. No need for transit or taxis. Boats are of far more use for visiting islands and can be rented at most lodges.
- 1 Angle Inlet School, 17606 Inlet Road NW, ☏ . One of the few remaining one-room school houses in the United States.
Sportsman's paradise: hunting, fishing, hiking, golfing, other outdoor activities.
- 1 Northwest Angle Golf and Country Club, ☏ . Most northerly course in the lower 48 states. Community focal point. Nine holes, Lake of the Woods borders holes #4 and #5. Clubhouse for sales and rentals. Tees and balls available. Golf cart rental and mini-storage located across the road. $60 for a membership/$10 per round.
- Angle Andy's Guide Service. Guided charter for up to four people, targetting a variety of species such as walleye, muskie, northern pike, small mouth bass and crappie.
- 1 J&M General Store, 9385 Golf Course Dr, ☏ .
- 1 Angle Outpost, 8206 Dawson Road NW, toll-free: . Lodge and cabins for fishing, hunting. On Lake of the Woods.
- 2 Young's Bay Resort, 7610 Young's Bay Dr, ☏ . A small family-owned fishing camp.
- 3 Oak Island Resort, ☏ .
- 4 Angle Inn Lodge, toll-free: . Starting at $115/day-pp.
- 5 Jake's Northwest Angle, 9270 Golf Course Rd NW, ☏ , toll-free: . Resort with marina, boat rental, fishing outfitter.
Lake of the Woods crosses all of the boundaries MOM warned you about ― Minnesota, Ontario, Manitoba. That makes it very easy to inadvertently cross provincial or international borders while heading out to terrorise the local wildlife. The Canadian Border Services Agency does consider dropping an anchor or a fishing line into Canadian waters to constitute entry to Canada, which would require reporting to Customs on "arrival" to avoid harsh penalties – and, upon return, reporting to US Customs because you've been to Canada. Under normal conditions, this is an annoyance. In full COVID-19 pandemic panic mode? It's a problem.
Fish on Lake of the Woods are educated in the finest of schools, and learn that hiding in Ontario's many delightful bays and coves gives them the full protection of a mighty Britannic Empire which rules the waves and protects them from hungry Minnesota anglers. It used to be possible to sneak past this by acquiring a Remote Area Border Crossing permit from Canada, along with an Ontario fishing licence, to get rod and reel into these tiny spots. That doesn't work now, as all RABC permits are suspended due to the pandemic.
If you're going to Minnesota to fish, stay in Minnesota ― at least until all of this is over ― as blundering into Canadian waters with bait and tackle is legally considered an international crossing which might not be viewed as essential under current conditions.
There are many small islands which have no infrastructure and no fixed connections to either nation's mainland. It is possible to reach these by boat in summer and snowmobile in winter, but the "ice out" of the spring thaw may leave up to eight weeks where there's no safe way in or out to these points. Those stubborn enough to cottage on these remote islands outside of high season therefore learn to keep enough provisions on hand (food, fuel, power for satellite dishes or communications) to last through weeks stranded and isolated as fresh water can become a lake of ice rapidly north of the 49th parallel.
There is a tiny 2 US post office in a small cabin at 9394 Golf Course Road, postcode 56711.
Cellular/mobile service tends to be variable, depending on carrier, but some coverage does exist.
- Whiteshell Provincial Park in eastern Manitoba (100 km/60 miles)
- Roseau (Minnesota) (100 km/60 miles)
- Kenora, Ontario (170 km/107 miles)
- Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota and International Falls (300 km/180 miles)