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 weeklong adventure?
Located off Lake Superior's North Shore, Lutsen Mountains has three on-site properties and its own restaurant/nightclub, which contributes to the upscale winter resort ambiance. In 2015, Lutsen will replace the existing gondola with a new six-person chairlift. Along with new funding to protect the nearby Poplar River, there is a proposal to add novice and intermediate ski runs. The proposal will enable Lutsen to expand its runs from 180 to 320 acres.
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 ski-out-the-door lodge at the base of the hill. Guests can indulge themselves with all the amenities, including a crackling fireplace and 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.
New in 2014, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area features 15 downhill ski runs, a terrain park, cross-country ski trails and a tubing hill. A year-round destination, when there's no snow on the ground, the trails are open for hiking, mountain biking and birding.
If you're 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 discounted 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 Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls. In southern Minnesota, Mount Kato Ski Area in Mankato and Coffee Mill Ski Resort in Wabasha 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.
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