Some of the most invigorating Minnesota sports embrace snow. Mother Nature and snow machines keep hills and trails in the white so enthusiasts can slalom, ski, slide, snowshoe and sled to their hearts’ delight. Many destinations offer illuminated runs and trails to extend the fun into the evening hours.
Some snow sports, like tubing, require little to no experience or coordination. State parks have classes on lacing and using snowshoes. Even the more challenging activities, like downhill skiing and snowboarding, have beginner entry points, such as lessons on the “bunny hill.” And most facilities cater to everyone—from novices to experts and participants young and old.
With an impressive range of downhill facilities and thousands of miles of trails for snowmobiling, skiing and trekking, Minnesota is the place to get hooked on snow sports for life.
Snow tubing is a great way to experience easy downhill thrills. Riders slide down groomed chutes or hills on specially designed tubes, sometimes linked with other riders. Tubing is ideal for groups, and kids and adults can enjoy tubing together. Many venues provide the tubes and the tow to the top of the hill. Most downhill ski and snowboard destinations have tubing hills, and a few destinations specialize in tubing.
More than 20,000 miles of groomed trails beckon snowmobilers to cruise on a sled amid the sparkling scenery of Minnesota’s parks, lakes and forests. It's easy to find resorts near snowmobile trails and make a home base for exploring, and to locate businesses that rent snowmobiles to guests.
Snowmobile trips are great for groups and families to experience together the fun of riding, sightseeing and kicking back at a cabin or lodge. Planning a trip around a winter festival is a fun way to enhance the itinerary.
Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota DNR can provide trip ideas and detailed planning assistance. The Minnesota Snowmobiling Destinations guide, featuring regional information, maps and travel resources, is available online or by calling 888-847-4866. Find the DNR’s interactive trail maps and a downloadable GPS map for reference out in the field by visiting mndnr.gov.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Minnesota has a variety of downhill areas for skiing and snowboarding, including the largest and highest destinations in the Midwest. Facilities with slopes and terrain parks provide rental equipment and lessons, and many have lodging on-site or nearby.
Kids—with their low centers of gravity—take to skiing and snowboarding quickly. Olympic skier Lindsey Vonn began skiing at age two at Buck Hill in Burnsville, where she got hooked on the sport and developed great slalom techniques.
Numerous downhill recreation areas offer youth ski and snowboard lessons, with starting ages ranging between two and four years old. Youth instructors are trained to make learning fun and to build the skills and appreciation for downhill sports that last a lifetime.
Adults, too, can find group or private lessons—whether they are just starting out, switching from skis to a snowboard, or looking for help to improve their downhill moves. As abilities and confidence levels rise, skiers and snowboarders can graduate from the beginner hills to intermediate and expert slopes and terrain parks.
Every downhill run is unique, and skiers and snowboarders relish hours on the slopes experiencing the rush and taking their sport to a new level.
Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing
Long ago, snowshoeing in Minnesota was a means to navigate the snow for hunting and trading. Today, some enthusiasts make and use traditional snowshoes, featuring a wood frame and rawhide laces, while others trek on contemporary snowshoes made with aluminum and neoprene.
The sport of snowshoeing is accessible to anyone who can walk. Poles help with balance, and snowshoe design follows function. Various sizes and shapes can accommodate casual trail walking, hill-climbing or even running. Minnesota’s state and regional park trails provide endless options for showshoers.
There are also miles of trails for classic cross-country skiing, skate-skiing and even skijoring (skiing with dogs) in picturesque settings. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers can go at their own pace, but the constant movement of both activities provides a healthy workout.
Many parks offer snowshoe and cross-country ski rentals, candlelight events and workshops to teach snowshoe lacing and beginning hiking and skiing techniques. Visit mndnr.gov for a list of trails and check out the DNR Winter Activities Guide for snowshoe and cross-country ski events and resources.