When fall arrives and the weather starts to cool down, and your mind starts to wander into the thoughts of snowy, winter skiing fun, it’s the perfect time to research and plan your outdoor winter adventures at one or more of the places for the best skiing in Minnesota. With scenic runs beckoning, snowboard parks offering challenging terrain, and an assortment of activities for those who just want to have fun, Minnesota has plenty to offer. From beginners to experts, there’s never a dull moment for outdoor adventurers.
1. Afton Alps Resort
Afton Alps Resort, snugly tucked inside the St. Croix River Valley, is about a half-hour from Minneapolis. This resort takes ski time to another level of excitement with challenging terrain encompassing nearly 300 acres accessible throughout the day and night, to skiers of all skill levels. Multiple chairlifts to the 48 runs keep things moving smoothly as you make your way to intermediate runs or more demanding terrain.
Snowboarders have their own terrain park designed with an array of jumps, rails, boxes, and more, to ensure a good time. For a little downtime to relax, warm-up, and renew your energy levels, The Landing Zone, situated at the base of the park, offers an inviting atmosphere along with scheduled music, food, and sampling events.
Stay for the day or choose one of the many lodging options within the St. Croix River Valley such as the Afton House Inn less than five miles from the resort.
2. Andes Tower Hills
The Andes Tower Hills is a family-run skiing destination about 2.5 hours from Minneapolis-Saint Paul that is an all-in-one destination for fun and accommodations. The hill offers plenty of challenges along with its 16 runs and 290-foot vertical drop whether skiing during the day or taking to the slopes for night skiing.
The small terrain park is compact but challenging for freestyles and snowboarders. On the weekends, there’s more action with snow tubing. To enjoy the peace, tranquility, and beauty of the area, there are multiple cross country ski trails rated easy to most difficult plus a lighted trail for nighttime excursions.
Extend your stay with rental options that include either a fully furnished 3-bedroom condominium or a rustic cabin shelter for those who prefer to rough it in the wild.
3. Buck Hill Ski Area
If you live in Minneapolis-Saint Paul and have the urge to play in the snow at a moment’s notice, Buck Hill is for you offering some of the best skiing in Minnesota nearby. Just 20 minutes from downtown, the ski hill can fulfill your craving to ski or snowboard. The ski hill has a 309-foot vertical drop, extensive snowmaking capabilities when needed, and 10 lifts, so chances are you won’t have to wait long to get where you want to go.
Freestylers, tubers, and snowboarders also make Buck Hill a popular destination for those who want to practice, play, or show off their snowboarding abilities at the terrain park. The ski hill is also open at night.
Buck Hill is open year-round. For kids interested in honing their skills, there is a ski school, a ski racing team for kids 6 to 18-year-old, and ski and snowboard teams for kids 7 to 18 years old.
4. Coffee Mill Ski Area
Perk up your skiing agenda with a visit to Coffee Mill with family or friends for a day on the slopes. There is plenty of snow along the 425-foot vertical drop, but if more is needed, there’s never a shortage with the site’s snowmaking operation. Take a lift to the top then choose from among 14 runs, each separated from the other by oaks, birch, and pine trees, and each offering an exciting downhill journey whether you choose a gentler run or one that will test your techniques.
Snowboarders have access to a separate park to take on the challenge of riding the rails or taking to the air with impressive jumps. If you want to take off your shades and do some night skiing, the entire hill is open.
For beginners interested in learning how to ski, those who want to sharpen their skills, or experienced skiers ready to take on some advanced training, consider signing up for either group or private lessons at the Coffee Mill Ski School.
5. Giants Ridge
Giants Ridge is not only impressive with its 35 runs networked across the 500-foot vertical drop mountain, but it also has an impressive list of activities for winter adventures and the best skiing in Minnesota. Along with skiing, there are two terrain parks for snowboarding: one designated for beginners and the other for more experienced boarders. There are three lanes dedicated to snow tubing, three miles of forested trails for snowshoeing, night skiing, three downhill runs for fat tire biking, and 37 miles of level ground for fat tire biking on cross-country ski trails.
Located in Mesabi Iron Range bordered by the Superior National Forest, the year-round destination offers convenient onsite luxury accommodations, shopping, and multiple dining options.
6. Lutsen Mountains
For skiing enthusiasts looking for wide-open spaces, multiple mountain vistas, and ample annual snowfall, Lutsen Mountains has it all. The ski resort, considered to have some of the best skiing in Minnesota, is bordered by four interconnected mountains. The resort offers ski and stay packages, dining, and live music when it’s time to relax, and a variety of options for skiing and snowboarding experiences.
Choose one of the 95 runs for intermediate skiing or show off your expert techniques at one of the more challenging runs. For snowboarding, two well-fitted terrain parks offer intricate layouts with bumps, banked corners, humps, and steep sections to put your boarding skills to the test. Transportation is also plentiful with eight lifts and an eight-passenger gondola.
7. Mount Kato
Located in Mankato, Mount Kato offers a little something for everyone. Skiers have a choice of 19 runs situated on both sides of Mount Kato, which has a 240-foot vertical drop. The runs are designated as easy, most difficult, and more difficult. Snow tubing and night skiing are also part of the agenda of fun things to do.
For snowboarding enthusiasts, Sundance, Sleepy Hollow, Sleepy Creek, and Little Forest keep the action moving at these four terrain parks that are sure to grab your attention.
For those who don’t have any skiing or snowboarding experience, you won’t be left out in the cold. Lessons for beginner skiers and snowboarders are available for ages 10 years and older.
If you do not have any equipment, take advantage of the individual and package rentals to provide everything you need from skis and snowboards to ski poles and helmets.
Visitors can also take advantage of The Lift Bar & Grill for refreshments, food, and live music.
8. Powder Ridge
When winter starts knocking on the door, it isn’t too early to start planning for opening day of the best skiing in Minnesota ski hills and resorts. Powder Ridge is one of those destinations that offers a menu of fun times all the time.
Located in Kimball, about a 1.5-hour drive from Minneapolis, Powder Ridge has plenty to offer everyone from beginners to experts. The ski hill has a vertical drop of 300 vertical feet and offers five lifts to get visitors to the 15 runs suitable for all levels of experience. There is also regular tubing and laser light tubing.
Snowboarders have three terrain parks to traverse. Those just starting out will head to Cedar Park, which is geared towards intermediates and beginners. At South Park, the terrain is suited to intermediate and advanced riders. Advanced riders will head to North Park to navigate over, under, and around challenging terrain and obstacles. Each terrain park has its own set of features and difficulty levels. Terrain features include obstacles such as pole jams, boxes, jump lines, tubes, rails, and ledges.
9. Spirit Mountain
When it’s time to take a break for the day or a couple of hours, head to Duluth and Spirit Mountain for nonstop fun. Grab your skis, board, or bike, or just bring yourself and enjoy a variety of activities.
Seven lifts go to the top where 22 runs ranging from beginner to intermediate offer exciting journeys on the 700-foot vertical drop mountain. There’s even night skiing for those who prefer to ski under the stars. If snowboarding is your preference, try your skills on one of the four freestyle parks.
There is plenty to do for non-skiers, too, such as swooshing down the tubing hill, traversing a cross-country-ski trail, racing down the rails of the Alpine Coaster, putt-putt golf, and more. Take a break and revitalize from all the activities with refreshments at the Riverside Bar and Grill.
10. Welch Village
About an hour’s drive from Minneapolis-Saint Paul, skiers and snowboarders can have fun day and night at Welch Village for some of the best skiing in Minnesota. The most avid skier will stay busy on the large ski hill that features a vertical drop of 360 feet and 50 trails. The hills are sectioned off into three distinct areas, so you can choose the one that suits your talents best.
For beginners and intermediate skiers, take one of the many lifts to the East Slopes area. For skiers with more experience, head to the West Slopes, and for the experts, make your way to the Back Bowl. Snowboarders and freestylers can take to the air or slide along logs and other obstacles in the dedicated terrain park.
After a day of skiing or boarding, stop by the Black Diamond Bar or Jaxx Bar & Grill for refreshing libations and live music.
11. Wild Mountain
At Wild Mountain, the goal is to provide visitors with an exceptional winter experience. With a choice of 26 runs amid breathtaking scenery, skiers can enjoy the beauty of the hill during the day and the magic of skiing under the stars at night. Four chairlifts provide transportation to the hill featuring a 300-foot vertical drop.
At the Wild Chutes tube park, snow tubing is a fast-paced option for those with a need for speed. At the four terrain parks, snowboarders, too, have dedicated areas providing an assortment of features guaranteed to provide endless hours of fun. If you are interested in learning the ins and outs of skiing, private, semi-private, and child lessons are available.
Winter is Calling You for the Best Skiing in Minnesota
Whether it is the beginning of the day, late afternoon, after work, or in the evening when you choose to enjoy the winter vibe, you won’t be disappointed in what some of the best skiing in Minnesota destinations have to offer. Take your pick for a completely cool, exciting, and memorable experience.
After hitting the slopes, let us know which of the best skiing in Minnesota locations was your most adventurous.
If you are interested in more winter getaway ideas, check out 11 of the Best Winter Resorts in Minnesota.
Love spending time outside? Then discover the Minnesota Outdoors to continue learning new ways to reconnect with nature!
Ready for more Minnesota advice, info, and guides? Whether you’re a local or a passerby, discover the best of Minnesota that our great state has to offer!
Looking for Minnesota winter inspiration? Check out our Minnesota winter guide for activity ideas, winter apparel suggestion, and endless ways to enjoy the snow!
- About the Author
- Latest Posts
Born in Madelia, MN, to a now 5-generation Minnesota family, Ryan’s MN roots go deep.
A painter by day, Ryan founded Life in Minnesota in 2013 with his wife Kelly to chronicle their musings on everything Minnesota. Ryan and Kelly are raising their 7 kiddos in Maple Grove, MN.
When he’s not shuttling his kids around to hockey practice, you might find him in the shop working on his leatherwork. Undoubtedly, there will be a family trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area every summer, and of course weekends at Grandpa’s cabin up north in the summer.