Minnesota's Iron Range is a mother lode of craggy peaks, miles of endless forests, and deep snowfall. The region is home to Giant's Ridge, the Gopher State's largest golf and ski resort.
The view of lakes and forests seems to stretch as far as Hudson Bay atop the 550-foot ski hill. The 35-some trails that soar off the rocky crest offer some of the best cruising runs around the Great Lakes. Named after Olympic sites, blue cruisers like Chamonix, Kitzbuhel, Innsbruck, and Sarajevo are made for long, lazy giant-slalom turns.
The North Face area offers some challenging steep. Narrow, white-knuckled, tree-lined chutes like Whiteface, 2002, and Snow Basin will test your mettle. Helsinki, with its varied pitch and headwall, is a great top to bottom, eye watering, fall-line run. Trails like Melbourne, Easy Way, and Placid, all sequestered center stage among birch and aspen trees, provide gentle, meandering top-to-bottom runs for novice skiers.
Giant Ridge's terrain park features more than 3,000 feet of free-riding fun. It's loaded with a halfpipe and a variety of rails and boxes.
The Lodge at Giant's Ridge provides luxurious rustic lodging, with a knotty pine interior and lodgepole pine supports for the high-beamed lobby ceiling. All 68 of the hotel's condo units were renovated this past summer. Some feature whirlpools and fireplaces. It also houses a spa and fitness center with a large indoor pool. Timbers, the lodge's restaurant, offers classic specialties with a "north woods" influence.
The Lodge is getting an early start on the Christmas season with some early season lodging specials. The next couple of weekends, Dec. 11-13 and 16-18, a one-bedroom condo unit that sleeps four is $79 per night. A two-bedroom unit that sleeps up to eight is $149 per night. That's as little as $20 per night, per person. Go to the link below and print out a coupon you must bring with you; you also must mention the offer at the time you make a reservation. The phone number is listed below.
There's also a link below for $20 lift tickets that are good through Dec. 23. Again you have to print out the coupon and take it to the lift ticket window.
Giants Ridge will be open 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Christmas Eve, 1 to 6 p.m. Christmas Day, and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily through the rest of the holidays, Dec. 26-Jan. 3. It's a perfect time to get out and test that new equipment you got from Santa.