Cruising the slopes amidst Minnesota's gorgeous scenery, feeling snowflakes brush your face, you hear the swoosh, swoosh, swoosh of your downhill skis and you're reminded of what's good about winter.
Whether you prefer fast technical lines or long cruising runs, Minnesota ski areas offer a mixture of terrain to keep every level of skier challenged. Why not take a respite from the humdrum of everyday life by extending your ski trip into a weekend getaway or a week-long adventure?
"In a two- to three-day stay, you can explore new terrain every day. We have 72 runs total, and we just added five new tree-skiing runs this year. We also recently added a quarter-mile run of moguls from top to bottom," says Jim Vick, marketing director for Lutsen. "People who choose Lutsen are choosing between us and skiing out west. The runs are as long as out west, and for families with kids, we're cheaper for lift tickets, lodging, and just getting there."
Located off of Lake Superior's North Shore, Lutsen has three on-site properties and its own restaurant/night club, which contributes to the upscale winter-resort ambiance.
Duluth's Spirit Mountain also offers views of the great lake as you descend the hills, and three full-service hotels provide comfortable winter lodging within a mile of the mountain. Skiers also can take advantage of the restaurants and night life available throughout Duluth.
If you're heading to the Iron Range, visit Giants Ridge Golf and Ski Resort in Biwabik, where you can stay at the recently added ski-out-the-door lodge at the base of the ski hill. Guests of the new lodge can indulge themselves with all the amenities--a crackling fireplace and a cozy hot tub in their suites. Other popular downhill ski destinations around Minnesota include Andes Tower Hills in Alexandria ; Powder Ridge Ski and Snowboard Area in Kimball; and Ski Gull in Brainerd.
If you are skiing with a group of 25 or more, Bemidji's, Buena Vista Ski Area, one of the oldest ski resorts in Minnesota, and Welch Village near Red Wing offer on-site, bunk-style lodging. For smaller groups, Welch also works with area hotels to offer discount ski packages.
Within an hour's drive of the Twin Cities, several exciting ski areas abound, including Afton Alps in Hastings, Buck Hill Ski Area in Burnsville, and Mount Frontenac Ski near Red Wing. In Southern Minnesota, Mount Kato Ski Area in Mankato and the newly opened Steeplechase, located 13 miles north of Rochester, also provide a variety of runs for ski enthusiasts. To entice skiers to stay longer, several resorts offer activities in addition to downhill skiing. Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing, sleigh rides, and ski and snowboard competitions are just a few of the other ways to embrace winter.
Find lists of Minnesota downhill ski areas: