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24-25' MN Mountains


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I am moving to Minneapolis from Colorado in summer 2024 for 2 years and wondering where is the best carving mountain within 2 to 2.5 hours from Minneapolis. I am keeping my IKON pass for annual Aspen trip but was wondering if it was worth it to look into any season passes for surrounding local hills.

I noticed that some mountain (maybe only Welch?) do 3-day-use-it-any-day pass for good price.

Thank for the info!

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do you know where in minneapolis? are you downtown or in the suburbs.

there aren't any "mountains" in central minnesota. for that you'd need to drive north up to duluth to spirit mountain which is about 2-1/2 hours drive for me. further north is lutsen which is is very nice.

afton alps is part of vail. both afton and welch are decent. i like both. obviously better if you can ride weekdays. the weekends can get crowded.

and then there are the smaller places like buck hill and hyland hills.

not about season passes. this has been a horrible season. 

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Within 2-ish hours of the Shitties, most hills are pretty much the same; 250'-400', small footprint, and generally of similar geography. That being said, the fun is what you make of it! Keep your expectations low, and you'll have a good time. This year aside, MN usually has great conditions, with cold, dry snow, and firm chord. You'll find that to be the case wherever you go.

As Bob said, weekdays are best, with almost no crowds to speak-of.

Buck and Hyland are literally IN the metro, making them quite accessible. And busy. 

Welch is fun, but the best runs are almost always occupied by race events. Afton is often uncrowded, and has the most acreage around, making for a day's worth of exploring. There are little mom and pop hills all over, which are just a blast (Coffee Mill, Powder Ridge, Ski Gull, Ande's etc.). I leave my gear in my car from November to April.

Giant's Ridge is arguably the best carving hill in MN. Great, even terrain, 650 vert, and usually gets great snow. It's more than 2.5 hours (3.5?). Unlike Colorado, MN driving is super easy, and a few hours is nothing compared to the nerve-wracking ascent/decent into Summit County.

Spirit, at 2.5 is okay. Conditions can often be iffy, and frankly I find the terrain oddly undulating. Hard to find a groove, compared to Giant's. I know; Them's is fighting words!

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Spirit Mt has a very affordable season pass, on sale in the spring for about $350. I started buying a yearly pass even before I moved to Duluth, making day trips from NE Mpls once or twice a week. It was worth it for me, longer runs (700' vert), fewer people and contrary to MNsurfer I find the terrain great for carving. I ride there almost everyday.

We've got a few carvers here at Spirit and can get a few $10 "buddy" passes. Boarder patroller@rwmaron often has a pocketful of comp passes.

Giant's Ridge does have some great carving terrain, but is another hour and a half drive. Worth checking out, but it's not a day trip. We go there from Duluth a couple of times each season.

For a similar drive from the cities (~4½hrs) Snowriver in the upper peninsula of Michigan offers the best terrain and lake effect snow that rivals western mts. It also has some nice carvable steep terrain not found at other hills in the midwest. 

Wild Mt (~1½hr drive) has some nice carving terrain (I used to teach snowboarding there). Look for ½ price tickets offers on certain weekdays. Well worth a day trip. I would often find myself alone with a few ski patrollers on the hill for the first 2 hours on a weekday. They have a special method for their man-made snow that is very close to natural snow. It's busy on weekends, as are all the hills near the cities.


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Thanks for all the info. I haven't decided where to live exactly but more than likely around Minneapolis downtown as I need to be within 20-30min driving from my work. 

Sounds like there are better carving near Duluth. I don't think I can go to week days unless at night. Maybe buckhill may be a good options for that for a quick dose of riding.

Has anyone tried "Indy Pass"? it seems to be great options to try different areas around MN (2 days free for each partner resort + 50% discount for rest?)

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I haven't, but a lot of folks at Spirit seem to have an Indy pass in addition to their season pass. Probably a good way to go. Includes some good carving hills worth visiting within a few hours drive of the cities like Lutsen, Snowriver, Powderhorn and Spirit.

There's night skiing at most hills. I used to night ride at Afton Alps when I was 1st learning to carve 30 yrs ago. There's more acreage there to find some carving room, but it's bit of a drive from Mpls, so Buck makes sense. Easier to go out for a quick fix without a large investment in time on the road to get there.

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