5 Best Ski Resorts in Minnesota (2022)
Minnesota is blessed to be a state where visitors can enjoy themselves to the hilt no matter what the season. Skiers flock to Minnesota to have the chance to ski on the decent-sized ski hills that are located within striking distance of many of the state’s major cities. Some of the largest resorts of Minnesota are centered around Duluth, making it easy for visitors to base themselves in one city and then explore multiple resorts in their ski vacation. Many other resorts are clustered around the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, making these accessible to people who want to plan easy day trips or those who want to indulge in some awesome nighttime skiing after finishing work. There are many of the ski hills here that offer free skiing to children in the 4th grade as part of the 4th Grade Passport Program ongoing in the state.
5 Best Ski Resorts in Minnesota
Here are some of the best ski resorts in Minnesota to make your skiing vacation an once-in-a-lifetime experience.
1. Lutsen Mountains
Lutsen Mountains is the biggest surprise that awaits tourists to Minnesota. The sheer size of this Midwest ski resort takes visitors by surprise as they find not just one but four interconnected mountains providing them with a wide variety of skiing and boarding options.
The Lutsen Mountains is known to receive an average of ten feet of snow every season, and it is home to a state-of-the-art snowmaking system that was recently renovated with an investment of $9 million. This ski hill has 95 named runs that are majorly intermediate in nature. If you like long blue cruisers, the six-person Caribou Express is the perfect option for you. Or if steep and difficult is your thing, you should head over to the Iron Mountain chair to check out the double black diamond runs.
The vertical drop at Lutsen Mountains is 825 feet, and it is serviced by eight lifts, as well as a six-passenger gondola. Freestylers and boarders will love the two terrain parks that are here – Mystery Mountain Boarder X and Timberjack Progression Park. Timberjack is perfect for those who like bumps, humps, and other things to ride along or on, while the Mystery Mountain Border X is full of steep sections, banked corners, and rollers.
2. Spirit Mountain
If you are an avid skier and you happen to be in Minnesota, a visit to Spirit Mountain is a must. Spirit Mountain is unlike most of the other ski hills you would have seen till now. This is because instead of being located in the wilderness somewhere, the mountain is located practically in the suburbs of Duluth. This convenient location has made Spirit Mountain perfect for those who want to indulge in a morning of skiing or sneak off for an afternoon spot of skiing in the middle of a workday.
There are seven lifts at Spirit Mountain that service a vertical drop of 700 feet. The 22 runs of the mountain are serviced by seven lifts and are known to be beginner to intermediate trails, which are perfect for skiers of all abilities. The impressive lodge here offers a great place to warm up on those cold days, and the large windows provide some stunning views over the mesmerizing Spirit Lake. Five different dining options are available, making this a perfect place for foodies. From cafeteria-style to table service to even the grab-and-go type, there is something for everyone here at Spirit Mountain.
Apart from skiing, Spirit Mountain is also a hot spot for freestyling and snowboarding. There are four different freestyle areas here – Spirit Park, 18-Line, Shark Park, and Lone Oak Tow Park.
Spirit Mountain also attracts many non-skiers due to the Alpine Coaster that takes you racing down a twisty set of rails. You can control the brakes, so you can be as timid or as brave as you want. There is also a tubing hill available, along with many cross-country ski trails.
One of the most unique things to do at Spirit Mountain is life-serviced fat biking. Throughout the season on Sundays, or other prime days when the weather permits, you can take your bike all the way up to the top and ride down the specially created courses.
Another unique attraction here is the draw of night skiing that takes place from Wednesday through Sunday until 8 pm.
3. Giants Ridge
Located just an hour’s drive north of Duluth, near the town of Biwablik, the Giants Ridge ski hill is home to 35 named runs that are spread out across the mountain. It is also home to a stunning base lodge.
The ski hill receives over seven feet of snow every season, and it also has an extensive snowmaking system that makes up for any shortfalls during the season. Almost three-quarters of the runs are classified as being suitable for beginners to intermediate skiers, but there are many challenging terrains as well. Giants Ridge also has several excellent places for those who want to learn how to ski.
The vertical drop here is of 500 feet and is serviced by five chairlifts. If you prefer freestyling or snowboarding to skiing, you can find two terrain parks here. The first is Garmisch, which has large jumps and includes a lot of rails and boxes. The second is Placid Terrain Park, which is more for beginners.
Night skiing is also available at Giants Ridge on most of the mountain, along with snow tubing. There are three lanes and a dedicated rope tow for snow tubing. However, you need to buy a separate ticket to use the snow tube run.
Fat biking is another great option, and you can bring your bike up on the high-speed chairlift and choose any one of the three designated runs to make your way down. If you would rather ride on level ground, fat biking is also allowed on the 37 miles of cross-country ski trails that are located in the base area. Snowshoeing on three miles of forested trails is another excellent option at Giants Ridge.
4. Coffee Mill Ski Area
Skiing in Minnesota can be a very chilly activity at times and combined with brisk winds, it can be quite unpleasant sometimes. Fortunately, the Coffee Mill ski area is located in a manner that protects you from the wind and also collects as much snow as possible from the passing storms.
There are 14 runs at Coffee Mill – all separate nicely from each other. The vertical drop here is of 425 feet, which gets blanketed by four feet of snow every year, and backed up by 100 percent snowmaking coverage. There is a dedicated freestyling or snowboarding area that has been set aside for people who want to ride the rails or grab some air. The resort is home to one snowboard park, and the entire hill is open for night skiing.
5. Welch Village
This is one ski resort you don’t want to miss. Located less than one hour from the Twin Cities of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Welch Village is a great family skiing destination. This large ski hill has 50 named trails and a vertical drop of 360 feet. Being home to 11 lifts, you never have to wait long enough in line, and you can get back up to the top in no time.
The ski hill is divided into three areas – West Slopes, East Slopes, and The Back Bowl. The East Slopes have the most beginner and intermediate runs, while the West Slopes are more geared for intermediate and advanced skiers. The Back Bowl is expert territory.
In the 2021-2022 season, the resort installed a brand new fixed-grip quad chair. This new chair is one of the biggest investments the resort has made in the last few years, and it lets you crank out more vertical in a shorter period of time.