Best Ski Resorts in Minnesota

Minnesota does get cold winters, however, the snowfall is quite low. That being said, these resorts have amazing conditions for skiing your days away, and the artificial snow makes up for the low snowfall. The following resorts have comfy accommodation options, gorgeous views from the mountain tops, and incredible instructors who are more than ready to introduce you to the world of skiing. 

Here are our top picks for the best ski resorts in Minnesota.

Afton Alps Ski Resort

Located along the St. Croix River in Denmark Township, this ski resort offers you 300 acres of skiable area and diverse terrain that is bound to satisfy any skier. With both skiing and snowboarding options available, it’s guaranteed that you will have a good time here exploring the outdoors. It’s a great place to practice your skiing, or even try it out for the first time by taking skiing lessons. The scenery is gorgeous – full of trees and glistening mountain peaks in the snow. During the summer, the resort becomes a golf course, and it often hosts large events like weddings.

Pros

  • Many trails for all abilities
  • Consistent grooming and great conditions
  • Stunning scenery
  • Attentive staff

Cons

  • The food can be expensive sometimes

Famous for: cozy atmosphere, amazing ski lessons, organized and helpful staff.

Town

As you might have guessed by the name, the closest city to the Afton Alps resort is Afton. It’s a small city located in Washington County, mostly famous for skiing and the scenery. While there isn’t much to do in Afton, it’s a nice place to visit if you have some spare time. If you want a relaxing escape from the slopes, the Calla Lily Day Spa is where you should be headed. And if you happen to be in Afton when the weather is nice, try visiting the Belwin Conservatory, which is probably the most famous attraction in the city apart from Afton Alps. Also, anyone who likes water sports can head over to the Hudson Cruise Lines for some fun on the water.

Ski Terrain

The terrain is diverse and it varies in terms of difficulty, but around half of the runs are designed for intermediate skiers. There are a total of 50 runs, and the top elevation is 700 feet. Those who like night skiing will be happy to know that you have the option of night skiing at the Afton Alps. If you happen to be visiting during a snowless period, the resort has you covered! They have a snowmaking system that enables you to enjoy the slopes regardless of the weather.

Crowd Density and Ski Lifts

This resort rarely gets overly crowded. If you’re the type of person who enjoys staying at resorts that don’t have large groups of people at one time, then you will definitely be a fan of Afton Alps.

With eighteen chairlifts and four surface lifts available on the property, the prices differ depending on which days you ski, but it’s around $55 for adults and $49 for children, for an all-day ticket.

Accommodation

Luckily, you have various accommodation options to choose from. Afton House Inn is the closest lodge to the resort, and the rooms are cozy and comfortable. Another great option is staying at the AmericInn Lodge and Suites, where you can book fancier suites, if that’s something you want. Comfort Suites and Country Inn are also amazing options that have various facilities to offer.

Verdict

Afton Alps Ski Resort promises lots of fun regardless of what kind of experience you have on the slopes. If you’re a beginner, you can take skiing lessons and practice on the beginner-friendly runs. It has various accommodation options and it rarely gets crowded.

Welch Village Ski Resort

Welch Village is a ski resort located near Red Wing in the Cannon River Valley. What attracts visitors to this place is the fact that they offer diverse terrain, as well as amazing skiing conditions. Beginners can take skiing lessons in order to gradually get more comfortable on the slopes. Apart from skiing, visitors can also enjoy snowboarding. 

Pros

  • Great for beginners
  • Organized
  • Friendly and helpful staff
  • Short lines for the ski lifts

Cons

  • Not all areas are open throughout the week

Famous for: beginner-friendly, helpful staff, amazing skiing lessons.

Town

Red Wing, Minnesota, is the closest major city near Welch Village. There are many things to enjoy here, both indoors and outdoors. Museum lovers can have fun exploring the Red Wing Shoe Store and Museum, or the Pottery Museum of Red Wing. Nature enthusiasts should visit the Colvill Park, bay Point Park, or Sorin’s Bluff. If you’re ever in town during a performance, the Sheldon Theatre of Performing Arts is a must. Overall, it’s a great place to escape the snowy slopes and visit some new sights.

Ski Terrain

There are sixty available runs on the property, all of which differ in terms of what level of experience they acquire. The top elevation is 1,060 feet, and the skiable area is 160 acres. There are two terrain parks in total, and visitors will be happy to hear that you have the option of night skiing at Welch Village! Snowboarding is also a popular option, so you have the chance to alternate between these two sports.

Crowd Density and Ski Lifts

Don’t like big crowds? Then you have nothing to worry about since Welch Village never gets overly crowded. Even though some of the areas are closed throughout the week, there are rarely any crowds on the slopes.

There are 11 lifts in total on the property: four quads, one triple, four doubles, one ski carpet, and one handle tow. You can purchase daily lift tickets on their website. The usual prices are around $64 for adults and $54 for children and seniors. It’s also good to know that the price of the tickets drops after 3 pm.

Accommodation

There are lots of hotel and motel options around Red Wing. Some of the most popular lodging options are Country Inn and Suites, Days Inn, Quality Inn and Suites, St. James Hotel, Treasure Island Resort and Casino, and Nichols Inn and Suites. The prices vary depending on the type of suite you choose, as well as whether you’re visiting during the weekend or peak season.

Verdict

Welch Village is a great option for those who want to avoid the hustle and bustle of popular ski resorts. Quaint, picturesque, and well-equipped, this resort has everything you need for a good ski trip, from various accommodation options to diverse slopes.

Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort

This ski area is located in the North Shore region of Cook County. Offering top-notch scenery and location, it’s no secret why this resort is so popular among visitors. The runs are spread over 4 mountains, making the terrain diverse and filled with gorgeous mountain views. The runs are suitable for all skiers, from beginners to experts. And for anyone who is only just starting to ski, there are plenty of instructors to guide you through your first skiing lessons.

Pros

  • Stunning views
  • Lots of runs
  • Delicious food

Cons

  • There aren’t as many signs as one might expect
  • Some of the lifts can be slow

Famous for: scenery, great location.

Town

Only a five-minute drive away from Lutsen Mountains, this city offers great options for sightseeing and exploring. If you love being in nature, you’ll definitely enjoy visiting this place. Whether you decide to explore the Cascade River State Park or enjoy a glass of wine at the North Shore Winery, you’ll have a whale of a time. Since it’s so conveniently located, it’s a great option for a little change of scenery.

Ski Terrain

Even though beginners have the option of taking skiing lessons, most of the runs are designed for advanced and expert skiers. That being said, there are still plenty of runs for beginners to explore. There are 95 runs in total, and the top elevation is 1,688 feet. The longest run is two miles long. Sadly, there isn’t any night skiing available, but the large amounts of snow make up for it.

Crowd Density and Ski Lifts

This resort is quite popular, so you can expect to see some big crowds of people while staying there. That being said, there are rarely any lines in front of the lifts, so you won’t be wasting any time.

In Lutsen Mountains, there are nine lifts in total: one gondola, seven chairlifts, and one surface lift. As with most resorts, you can purchase ski lift tickets from their official website. They offer plenty of packages and early bird deals, so you should definitely plan ahead if you want to save some money. The price for an adult, three-day ticket is around $200, while the same package for children costs $138. You can get packages for as long as seven days! And, by doing so, you’ll be saving around $230.

Accommodation

There are various accommodation options available, most of which have great facilities and comfortable suites. Eagle Ridge Resort is an amazing option, with affordable prices, an indoor swimming pool, and a sauna. Another cozy resort is the Bluefin Bay, with seaside views and appealing facilities. Located on the lake, with a lakeside dining room, Lutsen Resort on Lake Superior is one of the most popular options. The price per night differs between these lodging options.

Verdict

All in all, if you decide to visit Lutsen Mountains, you’re guaranteed to have a fun time on the slopes. You’re bound to enjoy the gorgeous views and comfy accommodation provided at this resort.

Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area

Located on the Hyland Park Reserve, this ski resort, along with Afton Alps, belongs in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Since it’s open year-round, it attracts quite a large number of visitors. There are a variety of runs, so you’ll easily find one that’s appropriate for your current level of expertise. You should definitely consider visiting this resort, especially if you’re traveling with your family. The option to snowboard is also available.

Pros

  • Great hills
  • Delicious food
  • Kid-friendly

Cons

  • Small vertical drop

Famous for: family-friendly, diverse runs, affordable prices.

Town

Bloomington is located 6 miles away from the Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area. As you can imagine, there are plenty of activities and sights to fill your time with if you decide to visit Bloomington. Families particularly enjoy the Mall of America and the Nickelodeon Universe. If you’re traveling with children, make sure you visit the Lego Imagination Center. If you like spending time outdoors, the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge and the Hyland Lake Park Reserve are a perfect option. Museum lovers should definitely add The Works Museum on their itinerary.

Ski Terrain

There are 13 runs in total, and they differ in level of difficulty. The snowfall averages around 60 inches, but they do use artificial snow, so you shouldn’t worry about that. You will also have the option of night skiing every night, which is quite appealing. There are two terrain parks, and other than skiing, you can enjoy ski jumping, snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, and snowboarding. All in all, it’s a magnificent place to practice your skiing or start skiing in the first place.

Crowd Density and Ski Lifts

This resort offers a wide range of activities year-round, and for that reason, it does get quite crowded during the weekends and peak season. However, it never gets so crowded that you feel claustrophobic, so even if you don’t like large crowds of people, it shouldn’t be a reason to avoid visiting this resort.

In Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area, there are six lifts in total: two quad chairlifts, one triple chairlift, one rope tow, and two magic carpets. The resort offers many packages on their website, but you also have the option of buying individual, all-day tickets. The price for an adult all-day ticket is $35, whereas children between 5 and 11 can get one for $31. Seniors get the cheapest tickets, for only $18.

Accommodation

There are multiple hotels to choose from when staying at Hyland Ski. The highest-rated hotel options are Hampton Inn Bloomington, Renaissance Hotel Bloomington, Staybridge Suites Bloomington, and Hilton Garden Inn Bloomington. Most of the hotels are located around a mile away from the resort.

Verdict

At Hyland Ski and Snowboard Area, you have the option of trying out many different activities and sports. The slopes are well-groomed and versatile, the staff is friendly, and the food is delicious. 

Buck Hill Ski Resort

Offering copious activities year-round, this resort is a go-to option for people who enjoy doing outdoor sports. During the summer, you can take part in mountain biking, hiking, or tubing. Winters are reserved for skiing, snow tubing, and snowboarding on the slopes that are surrounded by beautiful scenery. It’s a great place for families, couples, or even solitary wintery getaways. The slopes vary in terms of difficulty, so everyone can find something suitable for their skillset.

Pros

  • Slopes accommodated to all skiing levels
  • Fun and challenging hills
  • Cozy interior
  • Affordable prices

Cons

  • Some of the runs are short

Famous for: fun activities, great prices, open year-round.

Town

The wonderful city of Minneapolis is located only 20 miles away from the resort.  It’s a must-see! Art and history lovers in particular will appreciate this place. Some spots you can’t miss include the Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Mill City Museum, the Guthrie Theatre, and the Minneapolis Skyway System. If you love spending time in nature, then be sure to visit Lake Harriet, the Chain of Lakes, the Minnehaha Falls, the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, and the Minnehaha Park.

Ski Terrain

There are 16 runs you can choose from, six of which are good for beginners. The rest are catered to advanced and expert skiers. The top elevation is 1,211 feet and the snowfall averages around 60 inches. When natural snow doesn’t suffice, artificial snow is produced. Night skiing is available every night.

Crowd Density and Ski Lifts

Buck Hill rarely gets crowded with people. There are no lines in front of the lifts, which is always appreciated by the visitors. If you want a quiet getaway, then consider Buck Hill  as your next skiing destination.

There are nine lifts in total: two quad chairlifts, one triple chairlift, three rope tows, two magic carpets, and one snowtubing tow. An all-day ticket for adults costs around $47, whereas children, seniors, and military can get one for $34. The prices for night skiing are lower – $29 for adults and $23 for children, seniors, and military. Packages are available on their official website.

Accommodation

There are many accommodation options in the Buck Hill ski area. You can easily find hotels with affordable prices and a good location. Some of the most popular options are AmericInn, Best Western Premier Nicollet Inn, Grandstay Hotel and Conference Apple Valley, Radisson Blu Mall of America, and the Hampton Inn.

Verdict

Buck Hill is a popular ski destination, offering diverse runs, night skiing, and amazing accommodation options that are close to the resort, with a variety of activities available year-round.

You can check out more on our USA Ski Resorts page.

Article by:
Abby Ward
Senior Content Writer at Bluehouse
Last Updated

May 2020