Excellent terrain, best snowmaking, chalet, ski school
a tiny bit more expensive
I've been involved in the ski industry for 35 years. I'm well familiar with most of the areas in the upper midwest.
Welch has the best terrain in the Twin Cities area hands down. The terrain is more varied, uses all of its vertical well (no steep pitches with long flat run outs) and will keep skiers of all abilities quite happy for a day of skiing. Advanced skiers will be challenged more than any other twin cities area - and even a wider radius than that with runs like Bac, Dan's Dive, Wild Finale, Birch Ridge, Jon Jon and Sweeny, Duds Dream. As well, Welch is opening a new back bowl with a brand new 4 place chair that serves something like 8 or 9 black diamond or double black diamond runs. Nothing in the Twin Cities comes close.
Welch's lift system is the very similar to most lift systems in the Twin CIties. Chairs 1,2,3, and 4 date back to the '70s like most lifts in the Twin Cities at Afton and Wild Mountain. The triple and both quads are newer. The new chair in the back bowl is a brand new design from Doppelmayer. Welch has led the Twin Cities in lift maintenance, lift servicing standards and is absolutely excellent in their operation of the lifts. The same cannot be said for other local areas.
Welch has put millions into their snowmaking in the last 5 years. They have more than doubled their pumping capacity, they have added the most high tech guns available and have done so in high numbers. I ski all around the Twin Cities weekly and their conditions are consistently the best. They are more meticulous in their grooming that most and have the lastest in grooming equipment. Conditions at any area vary dramatically with the weather, especially in the last couple of warm winters where it thaws during the day and freezes up at night. No groomer or snowmaker can change this. That said, I'd put Welch's snowmaking up against anyones anytime.
Welch is very concerned about guest safety. Especially on crowded days or on beginner runs, the ski patrol will ask those who are skiing or riding at high speed to tone it down. This is a good deal and is one of the reasons Welch has not had a fatality in 50 years of operation. I don't believe the same can be said for any other Twin Cities area. This too, in an area that has more challenging terrain and the potential for higher speeds.
Finally, I think Welch and Hyland are tied for the best chalets and food service. Afton and Trollhaugen are tied for the worst. Welch offers free WiFi internet in their chalets. There is a main chalet and one on the east side that has a bar for adults.