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8 Best Skiing Resorts in Minnesota

8 Best Skiing Resorts in Minnesota

We’ve spent the past year being locked in quarantine. Finally, life is starting to look more normal as states begin to roll back COVID-19 restrictions. Vaccinated Americans are also returning to pre-pandemic activities.

What better way to celebrate freedom from quarantine than enjoying the majestic ski hills as soon as ski resorts open in Minnesota?

If your travel insurance is already in place, you’re ready to go! Read on to know the best skiing resorts in Minnesota.

You’ll definitely find a place worth visiting!

Best Skiing Resorts in Minnesota for Value

1. Giant’s Ridge

Child Skiing in Minnesota

Vertical Drop: 1792 feet

Number of runs: 34 downhill runs and cross-country ski trails – mostly beginner and intermediate level

Although not as big as Lutsen, Giant’s Ridge is one of the tallest ski resorts open in Minnesota. You will reach the rocky peak quickly with the high-speed lifts.

Get a glimpse of the radiant Wynne and Sabin Lakes during your run through pine and birch trees.

If you prefer snowboarding or freestyling, there are two terrain parks. Placid Terrain Park is for beginners. Garmisch has bigger jumps, extensive rails, and boxes for the more experienced ones.

Available lessons

If it’s your first time and you don’t feel confident enough to conquer the mountains, don’t worry!

The Giants Ridge Snow Sports Academy has experienced instructors to help beginner skiers and boarders. 

It also helps if you have travel insurance to make sure you’re prepared for emergencies that might occur.

Where to eat

Dining is not an issue for those who want to re-energize after a great run. Dine indoors or out in a comfy deck in Burnt Onion Kitchen & Brews and Wacootah Grille. There’s also a Food Court inside the Main Chalet if you just want something more casual.

Other things to do

As one of the biggest ski resorts in Minnesota, Giant’s Ridge has other great activities prepared for you. Snow tubing is always a fun bonding session for the whole family.

No skills are required; you’ll only just sit back and savor the ride.

They also have three spectacular trails for snowshoeing. These wander throughout the Northwoods recreation area.

Some wrap around the Wynne Lake and Superior National Forest.

Wrap up your day with a massage or relaxing treatment at the Laurentian Divide and Salon Spa.

2. Spirit Mountain

Spirit Mountain

Vertical drop: 700 ft serviced by 7 lifts

Number of Runs: 22 runs – mostly beginner to intermediate level

Spirit Mountain is unique, making it one of the must-visit skiing resorts in Minnesota. Instead of being situated in the wilderness, it’s right in the suburbs of Duluth. The easily accessible location makes it possible for you to sneak off for half-day skiing.

This is only 2nd to Lutsen in the Midwest. It is suitable for families who want to have more time on the snow than on the lifts.

The area is suited for skiers of all levels, with its longest run at 5400 feet. Its beautiful lounge provides a comfy place to warm up. The huge windows give spectacular views out over Spirit Lake.

This also might be a good fit if you prefer terrain parks. The ski park has four freestyle areas, namely Lone Oak Tow Park, Spirit Park, Shark Park, and 18-Line. Boxes, tubes, and metal rails are in place for added fun.

Available lessons

Lessons are available for kids and adults. In addition, you can choose to sign-up for private, group, or family lessons.

Where to eat

There are five dining choices of different styles available. You can choose between table service, cafeteria-style, and grab and go.

Other things to do

Non-skiers can also enjoy their time and not regret paying for flight tickets. There is an Alpine Coaster that speeds through a twisty set of rails.

You operate the brakes, so you can be as timid or brave as you wish. The tubing hill is also open, as well as cross-country ski trails.

A unique thing to do at Spirit-Mountain is lift-serviced fat biking. You will bring your bike to the top then ride down specially created courses. 

See Related: The Ultimate Ski Trip Packing List

3. Lutsen Mountains

Lutsen Mountains

Vertical Drop: 825 feet serviced by a gondola

Number of runs: 95 runs distributed throughout 1000 acres – mostly expert level

Lutsen Mountains is one of the largest ski resorts in Minnesota. It offers four interconnected mountains, so you can like it to mountain skiing without the airfare.

Staying in is not required to ski at Lutsen Mountains. You can buy tickets to ski for the entire day or just half-day, already including free equipment rental. Discounted tickets and season passes are also offered to local residents.

If you want to maximize the experience in one of the ski resorts in Minnesota with cabins, get ski and stay packages and special festival and event packages. You don’t need to be an expert skier or boarder to have fun in the mountains.

Available lessons

Children and adults can sign for lessons at the Snow Sports Learning Center. The lessons were created to make learning fun and rewarding.

Where to eat

There are many dining choices in one of the top ski resorts in Minnesota should you get tired of all the fun-filled activities in the resort. Whether you want family dining with a view, a relaxed bar, or outdoor dining, Lutsen has something for everyone.

Other things to do

It’s by far the top skiing experience Minnesota has to offer. There are plenty of activities perfect for a friends’, family’s, or couple’s weekend trip.

Aside from skiing, there’s also dog sledding, snowshoeing, nordic skiing, and sleigh rides.

Lutsen also has hiking trails for those who want to feel closer to nature. Ride the Summit Express to access the mountaintop trailheads easily.

This will lead you through deep forests, wildflower meadows, waterfalls, and breathtaking mountain overlooks.

See Related: Best Things to do in Grand Marais, Minnesota

Best Skiing Resorts in Minnesota for Beginners

1. Buck Hill Ski Area

Friends Enjoying Skiing

Vertical Drop: 300 ft serviced by 10 ski lifts

Number of runs: 8 – for intermediate and expert level

Buck Hill became famous as the training ground for famous skiers like Kristina Koznick and Lindsey Vonn. That said, it’s the best skiing resort in Minnesota for novices.

The snowboard and ski area has several surface tows, 3 chairlifts, and lighted night skiing.

There is a new airbag jump for freestyle buffs, which gives a 50×50 feet safety cushion for riders who launch off a 15-foot-high snow jump.

Available lessons

Buck Hill has preferential treatment for beginners. It’s known to have the longest magic carpet nationwide, and 6 green runs. In addition, it gives lessons to children, adults, and ski teams to promote skills development.

Where to eat

The Buck ’54 Deck is open to serve you American cuisine when you get tired of hitting the slopes. It offers a family-friendly atmosphere. It has a spacious deck overlooking a 60-acre green hillside.

Other things to do

Looking for other sources of fun aside from skiing and snowboarding? You can also do mountain biking during the summer and snow tubing during winter.

They also organize the Buck Concert Series for music aficionados. You might want to book a stay in a nearby hotel so you won’t miss out on the fun!

2. Afton Alps

Afton Alps Minnesota

Vertical drop: 350 feet serviced by 18 lifts

Number of runs: 48 runs – mostly intermediate in nature

Afton Alps is touted as one of the best spots for winter outdoor recreation in the Midwest. It has 300 skiable acres.

There are some short and steep black diamonds for added excitement.

An extensive terrain park is open for snowboarders and freestylers. There are boxes, jumps, and rails for all levels.

Its operations are currently at limited capacity for the 2021 ski season. Therefore, you need to book your tickets online ahead of your preferred ski date.

You may also want to schedule your trip a mid-week or nighttime if you want to avoid crowds.

Available lessons

Ski & Ride School offers group and private lessons for adults and kids. This includes multi-week programs. There’s also a “Ski Girls Rock” for girls 7 to 17 years old handled by female instructors.

Where to eat

You have several choices to grab a bite on the slopes. For one, the Alps Chalet offers breakfast sandwiches, cheeseburgers, and pizzas. Meanwhile, the Crest Mountain Grill, has Wisconsin cheese curds, pulled pork sandwiches, and the popular Epic Burger.

There are also several casual, family-friendly restaurants in downtown Afton. You’ll definitely be swiping your credit card frequently with the top-notch food choices they serve!

Other things to do

Are you already tired from skiing or too scared to risk your insurance? Snow tubing for additional fun and adventure is highly recommended! There are six tubing chutes in the Meadows Area Tubing Center.

Unfortunately, there is no ski-in/ski-out accommodation at Afton Alps. There are several lodging open in Afton and surrounding towns. Some hotels offer stay-and-ski packages.

You can also stay in St. Paul, which is 30 minutes away from the resort.

3. Wild Mountain

Wild Mountain

Vertical Drop: 300 feet serviced by 4 chairlifts

Number of runs: 26 – mostly intermediate and difficult level

Wild Mountain is one of the best skiing resorts in Minnesota to bring the whole family. It’s widely popular for its snow-making and excellent conditions.

Their novice discovery area and four terrain parks cater to snowboarders and skiers of all levels. The terrain parks give endless laps over jumps, rails, boxes, and other exciting features.

Kids and beginners will definitely enjoy the newly remodeled beginner learning area. As one of the largest ski resorts in Minnesota, it has a 100-conveyer lift and two tow ropes to make the ride kid-friendly.

Available lessons

Not feeling confident to take on the slopes? Wild Mountain provides snowboarding and skiing lessons for all ages and abilities. You can also sign up for private lessons if you are too embarrassed to show your skills!

Other things to do

If you don’t want to ski or snowboard, don’t go back to your hotel just yet! Snow tubing still makes for a fun activity. Their Tubing Park is the biggest in the area. Just ride the conveyor to the top of the hill and slide down with no hassle!

Wild Mountain added a special twist to snow tubing to enhance the family bonding experience. They filled the tubing lanes with multicolored LED Batons.

Check out the brilliant lights as you ride to the top with the conveyor lift.

Where to eat

You don’t need to worry about getting hungry while on site. There are several dining options near the area. There are rustic bars, buffet restaurants, eateries, and wineries ready to satisfy your cravings.

You may also bring a bag lunch that you can consume in Upper Commons or Bear’s Den.

See Related: Best Hotels in Duluth, Minnesota

Best Skiing Resorts in Minnesota for Unique Experiences

1. Coffee Mill Ski and Snowboard Area

Coffee Mill Ski and Snowboard Area

Vertical drop: 425 feet serviced by two lifts

Number of runs: 14 runs

Are you in search of challenging top ski resorts in Minnesota? Consider getting tickets at Coffee Mill Ski and Snowboard Area. Having only 14 runs and two lifts may be a letdown, but it redeems itself in other aspects.

One of its runs, the O’Chute may be considered as the most vicious ripper in the state. The others are long cruisers lined with trees similar to what you see in the Rockies.

What makes Coffee Mill’s vertical drop so scary?

It’s deep into the natural bowl of the Mississippi River coulee. This makes it a steep and highly vertical terrain, definitely not for the faint of heart – but possibly the best skiing resorts in Minnesota for adrenaline junkies. Make sure your travel insurance is updated before you hit the slopes!

Coffee Mill’s layout was done in such a way that everyone in a group ends their runs in one location. The runs are all marked, mostly wide and enjoyable.

Available lessons

They also provide fun ski or snowboarding classes for both beginner and advanced levels.

You can pick between the group and private lessons. The classes are highly recommended. Even the green hills can be challenging if you’ve never boarded or skied before.

What to eat

Here, you will not find anything fancy to eat, just the typical ski resort food for sale. The tiny bar sells local craft beers and national mega-brands.

You will also find the retro vibe of the lodge quite adorable. Unfortunately, the place cannot accommodate big groups because the chalet has inadequate space, storage, and restrooms.

Other things to do

If you want to slow things down a bit, you can hang out at the ski chalet. It provides just about everything you need, from food to rentals.

You might also want to end the day with eagle watching at Lake Pepin.

See Related: Best Things to do in Wabasha

2. Buena Vista Ski Area

Buena Vista Ski Area

Vertical drop: 230 feet serviced by 6 lifts

Number of runs: 16 – mostly intermediate

Downhill skiers, tubers, and snowboarders will consider Buena Vista the premier spot to enjoy their sport.

It sits astride the continental divide. You can view nine lakes and immense forests in distant panoramas along its trails.

Buena Vista’s landscape is breathtaking! The trails go through forests of pine and hardwood, rolling hills, and serene lakes.

Available lessons

Buena Vista offers ski and snowboard classes for all ages during weekends. Interested participants need to reserve their slots. You can choose between private, semi-private, and mini-private.

Where to eat

The BV Continental Café is open to serve you tasty snacks like cheeseburgers, hotdogs, and chicken strips.

If you’re craving other dishes, there are also restaurants nearby the area. This includes the North Shore Grille and Turtle River Chophouse.

Other things to do

What makes Buena Vista one of the best ski resorts in Minnesota is its 3-story chalet where you can hang out by the fireplace. Grab a warm and comforting drink at the café.

Try a horse-drawn sleigh ride or visit the Lumberjack Hall of Fame while you’re there. I suggest that you book a stay to make sure you’ll try everything the place has to offer!

Read on to find out more valuable info for your next trip!

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