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Outdoor adventurers get ready - the Minnesota scavenger hunt is on

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Minnesotans are bundling up and joining in on the ultimate winter adventure - the Explore Minnesota Scavenger Hunt. In its second year, outdoor enthusiasts can travel to a dozen checkpoints across the state, take a picture and win prizes. See pictures on Twitter using #onlyinMN.

The top prize is a Ski-Doo snowmobile. There are $50,000 in prizes available, including weekly drawings, WCCO reports. Participants just have to register and post a pic next to the checkpoint sign.

Checkpoint MN started on Dec. 11, 2014, and it runs through March 5, 2015. Last year was the inaugural run of the scavenger hunt. This year, two more checkpoints have been added, the Park Rapids Enterprise reports.

Alyssa Ebel of Explore Minnesota tells the Winona Daily News the idea is to boost winter tourism, which accounts for a quarter of the state's tourism revenue. It's a $12.5 billion industry.

“It is a great way to show off those iconic winter destinations,” Ebel says.

This year's destinations:

– International Wolf Center, Ely
Giants Ridge Ski Area, Biwabik
Aerial Lift Bridge, Duluth
Mississippi Headwaters in Itasca State Park, Park Rapids
Stickwork at College of Saint Benedict/Saint John’s University, Collegeville
Rice Park, Downtown St. Paul
Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge, Odessa
Minneopa Falls in Minneopa State Park, Mankato
Lake Lodge Recreation Center, Winona
Elm Creek Park Reserve, Maple Grove
Detroit Lakes City Beach, Detroit Lakes
Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer

Participants don't have to hurry through all the checkpoints, but one newspaper editor decided to go through all 12 checkpoints in 71 hours.

Forest Lakes Times Editor Jason DeMoe writes:

"We were the first to check in at that location. It was exhilarating, and we wanted more. Although the original plan was to head home after Rice Park, adrenaline was flowing freely, and we drove on to the Aerial Lift Bridge in Duluth for check-in No. 2. As the sun began rising, we checked Franconia Sculpture Park in Shafer off the list."

Checkpoints will also be set up at winter events, including the Eden Prairie ice castle, the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships Jan. 15 - 18 in Minneapolis, and the Beer Dabbler Winter Carnival Jan. 24 at the State Fairgrounds.

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