By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A frozen Minnehaha Falls is a thing of beauty this time of year — but according to Minneapolis Park Police, it’s also dangerous.

Despite “no trespassing” signs, people continue to wander into a restricted area below the falls.

“It’s really hard to describe, besides beautiful. There’s just a lack of words for it. You can’t get that anywhere else,” said Adrian Canche of Minneaolis.

When winter arrives, the roar of Minnehaha Falls transforms into a frozen quiet. The ice crystals are like an art gallery that only Mother Nature can create.

Lindsey and her friend were among dozens that bypassed signs and barricades to get a closer look. Even going behind the falls to take pictures.

“It’s really cool how the water freezes. It looked really pretty like a water color kind of,” Lindsey said. “It’s green and a little bit blue too. This is my first time going behind the falls which is really pretty.”

As pretty as it is, it’s also dangerous. Last year a 20-year-old woman was hurt when ice broke off and fell on a group of people.

“If someone gets injured by falling ice, such as what happened last year, there can be broken bones or a broken back. And first responders also need to go in and evacuate them,” Lt. Calvin Noble of the Minneapolis Park Police said.

The water just below the ice also flows into the Mississippi River. In all, 3 people were hurt last year, and dozens of trespassing citations were handed out. During the winter months, police do have extra patrols in the area, but other calls can keep them away for hours.

“Our message is basically: be safe,” Lt. Noble said. “We want people to come to the park. We don’t want people to stay out of the Minnehaha Falls area, but we don’t want people to go down to the restricted area because it’s a safety hazard both to the patrons and first responders that come down.”

The trespassing citations police hand out mean an automatic court date and a fine. That fine can vary depending on what the judge decides.

The two spots they want you to enjoy Minnehaha Falls are the bridge overpass and the overlook across from the Sea Salt Eatery.

John Lauritsen