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Minnesota Slopes promises fun at ski areas statewide

Jan 13, 2018 08:10AM ● By Editor
Skiers at Lutsen Mountains - Photo by Paul Stafford

By James Figy of The Mankato Free Press

If there’s one thing true about Minnesotans, it’s that we’re not afraid of a little snow.

“Most Minnesota residents, we’re here because we love the four seasons,” said Explore Minnesota spokesperson Alyssa Hayes. “It’s really a four-season state, and a true Minnesotan is going to get out there and embrace whatever weather comes our way.”

To help residents enjoy the weather this winter, Explore Minnesota and the Minnesota Ski Areas Association are teaming up again for Minnesota Slopes. This initiative offers information about the 17 ski destinations across the state’s five distinct travel areas, and it also runs a sweepstakes to encourage residents and visitors to hit the hills.

“Every pocket of the state has a ski area, so really you can go anywhere throughout the state to find some ski area fun,” Hayes said.

The sweepstakes runs until Jan. 28, and the details about prizes and how to register are available on the Minnesota Slopes website.

“Folks who sign up have a chance at great prizes, such as lift tickets, rentals and getaway packages,” Hayes said.

On top of downhill skiing, most ski areas offer lessons, snowboarding and tubing so that there’s something for people of all ages and skill levels. “A lot of the areas across the state are going to offer thrills for novices and people who are maybe just trying skiing for the first time,” Hayes said.

Each ski area across the state has something unique to experience. Lutsen Mountains boasts nearly 100 runs and a 1,000-foot vertical across four mountains near the North Shore. Buena Vista Ski Area in Bemidji offers 16 runs, one of which extends out 2,000 feet. Andes Tower Hills in Kensington has 15 runs along with tubing and cross-country skiing trails. Besides those, there’s Afton Alps in Hastings, Buck Hill in Burnsville, Chester Bowl and Spirit Mountain in Duluth, Coffee Mill Ski Area in Wabasha, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area in Detroit Lakes, Elm Creek Winter Recreation Area in Maple Grove, Giants Ridge in Biwabik, Hyland Hills Ski Area in Bloomington, Mount Itasca in Coleraine, Mount Ski Gull in Nisswa, Powder Ridge in Kimball, Welch Village in Welch and Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls.

Of course, Mount Kato has 19 runs here in the Minnesota River Valley. However, visiting other ski areas across the state is about much more than the outdoor sports. It’s about seeing all the great scenery and attractions the state has to offer with friends and family. Hayes said that near each ski area are restaurants, fun places to stay, shopping, breweries and winter festivals.
Staying in the state to ski can provide families with an affordable vacation. But engaging in winter sports in Minnesota combined with eating and shopping at area businesses also pumps money into the local economy. Winter travel comprises 24 percent of the state’s $14.4 billion tourism industry, Hayes said.

Explore Minnesota aims to draw visitors who live outside the state as well. Whether in the winter or the warmer months, there’s plenty to do, according to Hayes. “We also have a statewide travel campaign, #OnlyinMN,” she said. “It’s a very successful campaign in sharing all the unique experiences that can be found in our state.”

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