A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
Minnesota is home to Cindy Nelson, one of America's best ski racers, who broke onto the World Cup circuit in the 1970s as a 17-year-old, impressing older and more experienced Europeans with her toughness. Nelson's career over many years made her one of America's winningest World Cup and Olympic racers ever.
Cindy's home area was Lutsen, quadruple the size of most Great Lakes ski resorts. There are 4 peaks, more than 1,000 acres, over 1,000-foot vertical drop, 95 runs, and the region's only gondola. This New England lookalike also gets rave reviews from skiers for scenery, thanks to its spectacular views of Lake Superior from just about anywhere on the mountain. The resort is located on four separate peaks of the Sawtooth Mountain range: Moose Mountain, Eagle Mountain, Ullr Mountain, and Mystery Mountain. Some trails are two miles in length. All are interconnected through a system of lifts.
Buck Hill, located in the Minneapolis suburb of Burnsville, has a well-earned reputation when it comes to producing top-level racers and riders. The ski area, a stone's through from the interstate, has delivered multiple Olympians, dozens of U.S. Ski Team members and literally hundreds of junior champs. Buck Hill has 16 different runs for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities as well as snow tubing.
Afton Alps sits along the rolling hills of the scenic St. Croix River Valley. This sprawling area surrounded by Afton State Park offers enough runs to keep a skier or snowboarder busy both day and night just exploring the whole layout. Skiing and riding are spread out along a wedge-shaped ridge overlooking the river valley. There are 48 trails, terrain parks and 18 chairlifts.
Hyland Ski & Snowboard Area is located five minutes from the Mall of America, just south of Interstate 494 and Highway 100 in Bloomington. The ski area is nestled within the 1,000-acre Hyland Lake Park Reserve, which offers extensive winter recreational activities including lighted cross-country ski trails, snowshoe trails, and a Nordic ski jumping complex. Hyland is known for its snowmaking and grooming, and its terrain park is full of progressive and innovative features.
Spirit Mountain is in Duluth, a great ski town. Tucked in between Lake Superior and a towering forested ridgeline, it has long, legendary winters. One of the greatest "suburban" ski areas in the Midwest, Spirit offers a big 700-foot vertical drop, 22 runs and 3 terrain parks spread out over close to 200 acres. Spirit's assets include a sea of some of the finest "blue cruisers" around the Great Lakes and its great views of the city and harbor. The sprawl of twinkling city lights at night is one of the greatest night skiing views anywhere.