Guide to Minnesota’s Ski Resorts
Minnesota has plenty of options for downhill skiers and snowboarders in every part of the state. Some are small ski hills near Minneapolis, others are far-flung remote resorts and a few are scattered at the edge of Lake Superior with incredible views of the lake and surrounding forests.
The ski areas in Minnesota don’t receive a huge amount of snow, but the weather is cold enough to keep the snowmakers operating. Resorts can receive up to 120 inches each winter but many only get 3 or 4 feet.
With the addition of snowmaking abilities for each ski area, the season generally starts in late November. Some are able to stay open into early April but the best month for skiing is usually January (and February). The temperature might be cold, but that’s when the highest amount of fresh snowfall covers that manmade base.
There are plenty of offers available for skiing in Minnesota. The Minnesota Slopes Passport provides discounts at participating local ski areas. Minnesota Ski Areas Association has a passport available for 4th-grade students, offering 2 lift tickets at each resort for a small initial fee.
Minnesota’s Urban Ski Resorts
Several of Minnesota’s ski areas are located within Minneapolis, St. Paul, and the surrounding suburbs. These downhill ski areas are ideal for learning how to ski:
- Buck Hill
- Afton Alps
- Elm Creek Winter Recreation Area
- Hyland Hills Ski Area
- Mount Como in the Como Park Ski Center
Some include other activities like cross country skiing, snow jumping, snowshoeing, and tubing, and two are more than simple community hills. Buck Hill has one of the Midwest’s largest racing teams. Afton Alps, with 50 trails, is one of the largest ski resorts in Minnesota and boasts an impressive ski academy.
Other resorts are just a short drive from the Twin Cities. Some were built along the St. Croix River for recreation during the long Minnesota winters. Each resort has its own style and perks, and all are worth sampling on a day trip.
Welch Village – The resort in the Cannon River Valley has 60 trails and plenty of terrain for all types of skiers.
Mount Kato – The 55 skiable acres here include snow tubing and 19 trails for all skiing abilities spread across the mountain.
Wild Mountain – The resort crams a lot into its 100 acres with 26 trails, 4 terrain parks, and a learn-to-ski area.
Coffee Mill Ski Area – The resort is small with 16 runs and 3 lifts but has some of the best coulee skiing around.
Powder Ridge Winter Recreation Area – The ski area has 3 terrain parks and 15 groomed runs. The lifts are nothing fancy, but Powder Ridge is an affordable family-friendly option.
Ski Areas around Lake Superior
Lutsen Mountains Ski & Summer Resort – Located on the north shore in the Sawtooth Range, Lutsen Mountains has 95 runs and 2 terrain parks spread over 4 mountains. The resort has incredible views of Lake Superior and the surrounding forest.
Spirit Mountain – Spirit Mountain has 22 runs, but its best feature is The Parks, largest terrain park in the Midwest. The resort is located near Duluth and skiers can view both the city and Lake Superior while experiencing the slopes.
Chester Bowl – The downtown Duluth ski hill is an affordable hill for practicing or for an afternoon of fun. The single ski tow services the 5 runs and 2 terrain parks. The ski area is surrounded by cross country trails.
Giants Ridge Golf & Ski Resort – The 4-season resort has 35 runs and several terrain parks with beautiful views of Superior National Forest. The resort has plenty of other winter activities like fat biking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and snow tubing.
Other Ski Areas in Minnesota
Several other smaller ski areas are spread around the state, from the Wisconsin border to the state’s center. The multitude of options and variety of locations make skiing just a short trip away for just about everyone.
Andes Tower Hills – The affordable ski area in central Minnesota is family-friendly with 15 runs and 2 terrain parks.
Buena Vista Ski Area – One of Minnesota’s oldest resorts is small but boasts 16 runs and 2 terrain parks over 2 faces of the mountain. Buena Vista is better known for its variety of other winter activities and surrounding village.
Mount Ski Gull – Right in the middle of Minnesota, Mount Ski Gull has 10 runs and a terrain park at an affordable price.
Detroit Mountain Recreation Area – The easier trails at Detroit Mountain are on one side and more difficult runs are on the other, with a large terrain park in between. It’s one of the few ski resorts that feature fat biking.
Mount Itasca Winter Sports Center – Primarily known for ski jumping, Mount Itasca also has a downhill ski area owned and operated by the ski club.
Minnesota’s ski resorts are spread throughout the state so that everyone has easy access to skiing or snowboarding regardless of where they live. Most have plenty of other winter activities and all offer a variety of downhill terrain for all abilities.