Saturday, January 26, 2013

Is Lutsen the Best Ski Resort in Minnesota?

Lutsen Ski Resort
It's tough to love downhill skiing and snowboarding in Minnesota.  Minnesota gets plenty of cold weather, but lack mountainous terrain or consistent snow.  Lutsen Resort on the North Shore of Lake Superior is the closest thing to a mountain experience that Minnesota has to offer.  Lutsen is Minnesota's biggest ski resort, but is it the best?  Is it worth the cost?  We took a "guys weekend" to Lutsen this January to find out for ourselves. 

What to Expect

Lutsen Mountain has many advantages over other ski resorts in Minnesota. On clear days, Lutsen commands an amazing view over Lake Superior and the surrounding Sawtooth Mountains.  They claim to be "mid-America's biggest and tallest" resort with a ski area of 1,000 acres and a vertical rise over 1,000 feet.  Lutsen also has the state's only gondola to go along with eight other chair lifts.  We were impressed with the snow conditions when we first hit the slopes in the morning.  Because of a recent snowfall, we were even able to cut into some fresh powder on some of the more obscure runs.  Unfortunately, those conditions deteriorated into icy runs by early afternoon.

Lutsen Lodge
Before booking your next ski trip, be aware of the costs and disadvantages of Lutsen Resort.   At $63, a one-day pass at Lutsen is MORE expensive than Montana's Bridger Bowl (my favorite resort) and double the cost of Spirit Mountain in Duluth.  Lutsen closes at 4pm and offers no evening or night skiing.  In other words, you have to pay considerably more to ski fewer hours at Lutsen.  

I have been to most of Minnesota's other ski resorts including Giant's Ridge, Spirit Mountain, Buck Hill, Afton Alps, and Andes Tower Hills.  Lutsen Mountain far exceeds all of Minnesota's other ski resorts in sheer size and terrain.  However, compared to the resorts of the Appalachian and Rocky Mountains, Lutsen Mountain is a mere molehill. In short, Lutsen Mountain has Rocky Mountain prices, but they are unable to deliver the Rocky Mountain experience.  

Just the Basics

  • Location: 445 Ski Hill Road, Lutsen, Minnesota
  • Website:
  • Hours: 9am-4pm 
  • Cost: $63 for a one day lift ticket, discounts available for multi-day lift tickets