Though real snow was a bit late in making its way to Minnesota this winter, that doesn’t mean the many ski hills in and around the Twin Cities aren’t geared up for the the season. There are several options for downhill skiing within an hour’s drive of Minneapolis. Let’s look at some of them:
15400 Buck Hill Road
Burnsville, MN 55337
Boasting a 310-foot vertical drop and 40 skiable acres, Buck Hill is the south metro’s go-to skiing spot. The ski season there opened the Monday before Thanksgiving, meaning that plenty of skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing fun awaits.
Daytime lift tickets at Buck Hill start at $20, and daily lessons are offered at 10:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. to students age 6 and up of all ability levels. Lessons are $20 and do not include a lift ticket or rental. Private lessons are also available.
January promises a number of special events at Buck Hill, including high school ski tournaments.
6600 Peller Ave. S.
Hastings, MN 55033
For fun before, during and apres-ski, Afton Alps is a great family option. The facility has a wide variety of equipment rentals along with four chalets; daytime lift tickets start at $24. If you’re a beginner, you can rent everything you need for around $25.
Afton Alps offers lessons throughout the day at $20 per hour, or $45 per hour for private lessons. Tubing and snowboarding lessons are also available.
“Afton Alps is known for being so big, so close and so much fun,” says Afton Alps marketing manager Amy Reents. “We have 18 chairlifts and 49 runs over nearly 300 acres, making Afton the largest in the metro area.”
PO Box 146
Welch, MN 55089
(651) 222-7079 (twin cities)
Founded in 1965, Welch Village is one of the Twin Cities most respected ski hills, offering 37 runs split evenly between beginner, intermediate and expert courses. Using water from the nearby Cannon River to make snow, the property has 140 acres of skiable terrain, with the main slope offering a challenging vertical rise.
A daily lift ticket is $39, although Welch Village offers discounts and specials throughout the season--such as Family Festival Days, in which family members receive a lift ticket, rental package, beginner lesson and a meal in the chalet for $59 each.
Lessons are split between aspiring skiers younger than 10 and older. New this year is the $99 Starter Kit, which offers three lift tickets, three standard equipment rental packages and three one-hour group lessons.
8800 Chalet Road
Bloomington, MN 55438
Operated by the Three Rivers Park District, Hyland Ski & Snowboard Area is located within Hyland Lake Park Reserve. This publicly operated hill offers adult lift tickets starting at $29, with discounts available for children and during weekends.
The SnowSports Academy at Hyland offers skiing, snowboarding and Telemarking lessons for all ages and abilities, with private, semi-private, or group lessons available. Call for rates and availability, and keep in mind that spots are filled on a first-come, first-served basis.
Also, the hill’s Grind-Rite Tune Shop offers a wide variety of repairs and maintenance packages for your valuable gear: “Our terrain park is full of progressive and innovative features and we are known for some of the best snowmaking and grooming in the Midwest,” boasts the Hyland website.
2232 100th Ave
Dresser, WI 54009
The live ski cam on Trollhaugen’s website should make you want to hit the slopes immediately. Daytime ski passes are available for $41, with discounts for kids, seniors, and for night skiing. Trollhaugen offers numerous specials for package rates and for college students. If you want to take it a little slower, you can hit Trollhaugen’s cross-country trails for only $9. A wide variety of rentals is also available.
A 90-minute group lesson will run you $25, with semi-private and private lessons also available. For the kids, a combination ski or snowboard instructional package is available for as little as $25 for a two-hour lesson.