Lake Minnetonka is a treasure all year long, but we still see some misuse in the colder months, including safety risks. The following are the most common winter-use violations observed by Hennepin County Sheriff’s Water Patrol. Be mindful of the rules and use common sense so everyone can have a safe and enjoyable time on Lake Minnetonka.
Ice Shelter and Vehicle Registration
All portable and non-portable ice shelters left unattended must be licensed through the Minnesota DNR. The ice shelter license must be readily visible from the shelter’s exterior. For more information, please see the MN DNR website. All snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and off-road vehicles (ORVs) must be registered through the Minnesota DNR. Please see the MN DNR website for more information.
Shore Zone Violations
In general, the shore zone (within 150 feet of shore) is limited to non-motorized activities, such as walking, snowshoeing, skating, cross-country skiing, and fishing. Motor vehicles may traverse the shore zone by the shortest direct route from the shoreline to open ice beyond the shore zone but are prohibited from operating at a speed in excess of 25 miles per hour while in the shore zone.
Littering & Cleanup of Pet Waste
It is unlawful for the operator of a motorized vehicle or any person to deposit any garbage, rubbish, feces, or other litter on the ice. Plan ahead to bring any waste or garbage with you when leaving. This includes cleaning up your dog or pet’s poop.
Reflective Material on Ice Shelters
Ice shelters left out overnight must have at least 2 square inches of reflective material on each side.
Let someone know your plans and location, be prepared for winter conditions, and have safety equipment available in case of emergencies.
The influence of alcohol or drugs can lead to poor decisions or accidents.
Be mindful of speed limits and weather or ice conditions that may warrant more careful driving of vehicles such as low visibility times at dusk or snowfall.
Channels and Thin Ice
Each year, people, their pets or vehicles fall through the ice. Channels and areas of moving water often have less ice depths. Check ice depths and conditions frequently.
Unexpected hazards such as pressure ridges, structures or temporary hazards, etc. may create dangerous conditions for those travelling across the ice.