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Visiting Lakewood in the Winter

Winter is in full swing — and it’s a beautiful season at Lakewood. If you plan to visit, please read this article for a few interesting facts about Lakewood, plus a couple of safety tips and guidelines.

Did you know that Lakewood has over 9 miles of roads?

Lakewood was designed as a “rural” or “garden” cemetery, which means it was intentionally landscaped to feel like you’re outside the city once you’re inside the gates. A key feature of garden cemeteries is miles of long and winding roads that were meant to mimic the natural contours of the land.

To preserve the historic and serene look of Lakewood, we use brown gravel rather than traditional blacktop. When you walk or drive through our gates, you are greeted with the same soft brown gravel that has greeted families and visitors for many, many decades.

Sometimes these beautiful and historic-looking roads pose challenges in the winter. Brown gravel does not absorb heat as well as blacktop, so it can be more difficult to keep free of ice and snow. We shovel and plow as quickly as possible and use sand for traction, focusing on the roads near the buildings and front entrance where funerals and receptions take place. Because we are not able to plow every road in the cemetery, the roads beyond our front gate area can be slippery for walking and driving.

Winter safety tip: Please take great care when walking or driving at Lakewood during the winter. If possible, walk with a friend so that you are not alone. Stick close to the sides of the road so that if cars or a funeral procession come through, they can easily avoid you. You may even want to consider walking elsewhere on days when the roads look particularly icy.

Did you know that we have funerals and burials here in the winter?

Winter burial was not the norm in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Instead, the most common practice was to safely hold the remains until the ground thawed in the springtime. In fact, the oldest remaining structure in Lakewood’s grounds is the entrance to what was once known as the “receiving vault,” which held coffins throughout the winter.

Lakewood began conducting winter burials in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until 1993 that Minnesota law required cemeteries to provide burial year-round.

Preparing for burial during the winter requires many steps — from locating the burial site in the snow, to plowing around the site, then thawing the area, and using special equipment to dig into the ground reaching below the frost line, which can be up to 48 inches deep here in the Twin Cities. Many families choose to have graveside services in the winter, so we carefully prepare the site the same as we would in warmer months.

Winter safety tip: Because we continue to do burials and services in the winter, we ask all visitors to be aware of their surroundings at Lakewood year-round. Please yield to cars and funeral processions by moving out of the way. If you are not here for a funeral service or to visit a loved one’s grave, please keep your distance from those who are.

Did you know Lakewood’s gates are open 365 days a year?

Lakewood’s gates are open every day — in all seasons — so that families can visit as often as they’d like, including on holidays and special dates that are significant to them.

Lakewood is truly beautiful in all seasons! Even in the winter, Lakewood is a special place to visit and connect with nature. (Check out our Facebook or Instagram for beautiful winter images.) While here, you can escape the hubbub of the city for some peaceful reflection as you take in the beauty of our grounds. You may even see all kinds of birds and other wildlife.

If you have a question about Lakewood in the winter or a beautiful photo to share, visit our Facebook page or send an email to

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