Top Slopes

One of my fondest winter memories as a child was learning how to ski. My uncle, who spends every possible day on the slopes, would tie one end of a rope to his body and the other to mine, taking me gliding down the hills. While I didn’t grow up to be the die-hard skier he is, I sure do enjoy riding down a mountain (man-made or real) while fresh snow falls. Now that the ground is covered in white, I’d say it’s about time to spend a day on the slopes. And no matter where you are in Minnesota, you’ll find plenty of trails, runs, and terrains. Here are some of our top picks.

Spirit Mountain
Here you can enjoy views of Lake Superior and St. Louis Bay while traveling down one of 22 runs. This spot also is home to the Midwest’s largest terrain park, with 175 acres ready for skiers and snowboarders. In the last two years they added the Timber Flyer zip line and the area’s first alpine coaster, the Timber Twister, which, along with a nine-hole mini golf course and snow tubing park make up the (year-round) Spirit Mountain Adventure Park. 9500 Spirit Mountain Place, Duluth.

Photo by Todd Buchanan

Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area
The closest on our list to the Twin Cities, Hyland is known for its snowmaking and grooming. Slide down easy, medium or difficult runs, hitting an elevation of 1,075 feet. Or, spend some time in the park’s 1,000-acre reserve, which has space for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and Nordic ski jumping. And if you’re looking for lessons, more than 325 instructors are employed here, offering help for all levels. 8800 Chalet Road, Bloomington.                

One of the most well known spots in the state, Lutsen offers 92 runs on four mountains, as well as four miles of trails for Nordic skiing (classic or skate) that take you through aspen, birch, evergreen, and maple trees. Aside from that, you can also take a horse-drawn sleigh or dog sled ride, try “norpine” skiing (a combination of alpine and Nordic), ride on mid-America’s only gondola or go snowshoeing. 455 Ski Hill Road, Lutsen.

Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Resort
After opening with just five slopes in 1965, Welch Village has grown to include 140 acres of skiable land, including 60 trails and a progressive terrain park for beginners and intermediate levels with rails, boxes and roller features. As a plus, here you’ll find more than just concession food, including sandwiches, salads, and pizza at Lookout Café, bar fare at Madd Jaxx, and beer and wine at Black Diamond Bar. 26685 County Road 7 Boulevard, Welch.

Giants Ridge
Between 35 downhill ski runs, two snowboarding terrain parks, 60 kilometers of cross-country skill trails, and a snow tubing park, not to mention spaces to snowmobile, snowshoe, and ice fish, there’s no shortage of activity here. Additionally, the ridge offers access to a more than 2,000-mile trail system that winds through Minnesota’s Iron Trail. 6325 Wynne Creek Drive, Biwabik.

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