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Kay Rodriguez

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Kay Rodriguez is the Chicago-based travel writer and photographer behind Jetfarer and Skyline Adventurer. When she's not blogging furiously on her laptop or editing photos, you can find Kay running, hiking, or paddling in a new city.

While most may not think of Detroit as an outdoor adventure hotspot, there are a surprising number of fantastic resorts for skiing and snowboarding in the metro Detroit area and within driving distance. Winters in the Midwest can be brutal, but these ski resorts near Detroit are the perfect way to enjoy the cold weather and enjoy some adrenaline-inducing terrain. We created this guide to the best places for snowboarding and skiing near Detroit so you can get out and enjoy the slopes this winter!

Best Ski Resorts Near Detroit

Ski Alpine Valley

  • Distance from Detroit: 40 miles (50 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

If you’re looking for a quick winter getaway, Alpine Valley is a great spot for snowboarding and skiing near Detroit. With around 25 trails spanning easy greens to double black diamond challenge terrain, Alpine Valley caters to all levels of skiers and riders. Despite its small size, about a third of the trails are specifically for advanced/expert athletes! Because it’s less than 1 hour from the city, it’s a great spot for a quick day trip or even a post-work ski session.

Photo Credit: TheKarenD (Flickr CC)

Pine Knob

  • Distance from Detroit: 40 miles (45 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: Intermediate & advanced

Despite being one of the smaller resorts on our list, Pine Knob‘s 17 trails offer a lot of variety in a smaller resort. There are trails suitable for all levels here, but it’s truly a mountain that appeals more to skiers and riders with some experience under their belts.

With the majority of trails rated as blue, black diamond, or double black diamond, you’ll find more challenge here than in most ski resorts in southeastern Michigan. They’re also open until 10 PM for night skiing every night of the week except Sundays, so it’s a convenient spot for skiing after work or during the evening hours, too. During the summer months, Pine Knob turns into a concert venue that hosts musicians from around the world, so needless to say, it’s a pretty unique spot!

Mt. Brighton

  • Distance from Detroit: 45 miles (45 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

As one of the most beloved hills in the area, Mt. Brighton is one of the best and most convenient ski resorts near Detroit. While it’s not a huge mountain, it’s a fantastic spot to get a quick ski/ride session in or for first-timers and beginners to learn how to navigate the slopes. Mt. Brighton is beloved by locals for being a friendly learning environment that has excellent service and is well maintained.

With a front side largely catered to beginner and intermediate skiers, it’s a fantastic option for leveling up and getting more experience under your belt that’s close to the city. The back side of the mountain has more black diamond and double black diamond runs, which are great for more seasoned practitioners.

Photo Credit: Chris Richards (Flickr CC)

Mt. Holly

  • Distance from Detroit: 51 miles (50 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: Beginner & intermediate

Another beloved local place for snowboarding skiing near Detroit is Mt. Holly. It’s on the smaller side of the ski resorts near Detroit, with just 20 trails, but it’s got a little bit of everything, from an entire dedicated learning area for beginners to some more advanced runs and terrain parks for those looking for a bit more thrill.

Largely geared to beginner and intermediate skiers and riders, it’s a great place to level up and gain more experience without going too far from the city. As with most resorts, there are great programs for learning to ski or ride here, as well as rentals and a sizable indoor lodge area. Many regulars enjoy coming back to this resort because of its well-groomed slopes, and many state that it’s their favorite snow sports area in southeastern Michigan.

Bittersweet

  • Distance from Detroit: 160 miles (2.5 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: Beginner & intermediate

Located about 2.5 hours from the metro Detroit area, Bittersweet Ski is a wonderful winter getaway for families and groups with a variety of skill levels. Boasting 21 trails largely catering to beginner and intermediate skiers, Bittersweet is a great place to learn skiing or riding and gain more experience to step up your game.

Many locals continue to return here because they grew up skiing or riding on the resort’s hills, which are typically well-groomed and maintained. Bittersweet has also got a spacious lodge where you can grab a bite or take a break from the slopes.

Caberfae Peaks

Clocking in at nearly 3.5 hours each way, Caberfae Peaks is definitely not the closest of the ski resorts near Detroit on our list. However, we’ve included it on here because it’s an absolutely wonderful and beloved choice for skiing and snowboarding near Detroit. With its location in Michigan’s “snowbelt,” there’s no shortage of fresh powder here between natural means and its monster of a snow machine.

The resort has 34 ski slopes of all levels with a 485 foot drop, plus an entire backcountry area for experienced skiers and snowboarders to explore. Onsite, there’s a hotel to grab some food or stay for a weekend.

Photo Credit: Gary Elrod (Flickr CC)

Shanty Creek

  • Distance from Detroit250 miles (3 hours, 40 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

For a comprehensive winter sports experience that feels a bit more like a traditional ski resort experience, Shanty Creek is a wonderful place for snowboarding and skiing near Detroit. Shanty Creek’s ski and ride area spans 2 mountains – Schuss and Summit Mountains – and has 55 runs that span all experience levels.

In addition to the downhill options, there are also several Nordic trails for those wanting to do some cross-country skiing. Although it’s close to 4 hours from the Detroit metro area, we’d say this beautiful, well-run resort is well worth the drive to escape the city and enjoy the winter air. Many visitors to the area love Shanty Creek for its fantastic value, with several stating it is their favorite ski resort in lower Michigan.

Crystal Mountain

  • Distance from Detroit245 miles (3 hours, 45 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Crystal Mountain Resort
  • Experience levels: All levels

We wouldn’t suggest you drive close to 4 hours from Detroit without a good reason. Luckily, skiing or snowboarding at Crystal Mountain is a fantastic reason! Here, you’ll find a whopping 58 trails on Crystal Mountain Resort’s grounds, ranging from beginner-friendly bunny hills to monster black diamonds.

When you think of a winter getaway, you probably think of something close to what Crystal Mountain Resort offers. They’ve got hotel rooms and cabins for rent that are suitable for any number of people, plus tons of amenities outside of skiing/snowboarding, like a spa, fitness center, pool, shopping, and dining.

Photo Credit: Rachel Kramer (Flickr CC)

Boyne Highlands

  • Distance from Detroit: 281 miles (4 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Boyne Highlands Resort
  • Experience levels: All levels

As one of the larger ski resorts on our list, Boyne Highlands is a favorite local ski and snowboarding recreation area in Michigan. In addition to its 55 trails across 435 skiable acres, the resort is home to the longest ski run in Michigan, at 1.25 miles.

There’s a fairly even spread of trails here for beginner, intermediate, and advanced skiers and riders, meaning it’s a wonderful place for beginners to gain experience and for more experienced folks to enjoy challenging terrain. As a full-service resort, there’s lodging, dining, shopping, and other apres-ski entertainment available on site, making Boyne Highlands a great spot for winter getaways spanning a weekend or even longer.

Photo Credit: Don…The UpNorth Memoires Guy… (Flickr CC)

Nub’s Nob

  • Distance from Detroit280 miles (4 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

With 53 well-groomed runs, Nub’s Nob is one of Michigan’s absolute favorite ski resorts. Clocking in at 4 hours from Detroit, it’s a bit of a drive, but the variety of the slopes and the fantastic terrain and conditions of Nub’s Nob make it one of the most coveted winter destinations for snow sports junkies in the Midwest.

The resort’s trails span two mountain faces, the front side and the south side. The front side has mostly intermediate and advanced runs, while the south is home to a complete variety spanning from beginner learning zones to expert-friendly glades. Skiing and snowboarding is the focus here, and you’ll find excellent service and resources for learning at the lodge.

Additional Resources for Snowboarding & Skiing Near Detroit

What to Pack

  • Waterproof outerwear – Possibly the most critical pieces of clothing for your ski trip packing list is durable, waterproof outerwear. Burton and Helly Hansen are famous ski brands for having best-in-class clothing that will keep you warm in the coldest, snowiest conditions. Click here to shop ski jackets and compare prices.
  • Thermal layers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. Our favorite brand of thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
  • Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommend these ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.

Related Articles

While it may not be natural to think of the Midwest as a hotspot for snow sports, there are actually several fantastic resorts in the region for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. In Wisconsin, you can find several of these ski resorts near Milwaukee and the surrounding areas. Whether you’re a first-timer or a seasoned practitioner, you can definitely find a resort that caters to your ability level and skills. We created this guide to the best places for snowboarding and skiing near Milwaukee to help you plan your next wonderful winter escape!

Best Ski Resorts Near Milwaukee

The Rock Snowpark

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 15 miles (20 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: Beginner & intermediate

Located just 20 minutes from downtown, The Rock Snowpark is a great local option for skiing near Milwaukee. With just 8 runs, it’s a fairly tiny ski resort, but what it lacks in number, it makes up for in quality. Locals love skiing here often because of its convenience to the city, its night skiing opportunities (perfect for a post-work ski trip) and its low-key atmosphere. Trails tend to be well-groomed and area especially fantastic after a recent snowfall in the city. Additionally, the park offers tubing for extra fun on the slopes.

Little Switzerland

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 35 miles (35 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: Beginner & intermediate

If you’re on a time crunch but are looking for something with a bit more diversity than The Rock, Little Switzerland is a fantastic option for snowboarding and skiing near Milwaukee! This small mountain has two sides – a front side with a beginner area for first-timers, and a back side that has more trail variety ranging in ability level. There’s also a large portion of the resort dedicated to terrain parks. With on site dining and night skiing available, it’s a great spot to head on weekday evenings or to spend a day outside in the Wisconsin winter.

Sunburst

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 40 miles (40 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

Sunburst‘s 11 trails might seem limiting at first glance, but they range in difficulty from easy green slopes to double black diamond rated terrain. While skiing and snowboarding is great at Sunburst, the biggest draw is actually its tubing hill, which they boast as the largest in the world. It’s got 45 chutes with a 90 foot drop over 1200 feet of length, and if you’re seeing an adrenaline rush, you can reach speeds of over 30 miles per hour. Sunburst is a great spot to ski/ride and tube, all within one hour of Milwaukee.

Alpine Valley

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 40 miles (40 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Alpine Valley Resort
  • Experience levels: Beginner & intermediate

If you’re looking for an easy getaway, Alpine Valley is a quaint spot for snowboarding and skiing near Milwaukee. With around 20 trails largely suitable for beginner and intermediate practitioners, Alpine Valley caters to beginners who want to level up in an easy, friendly environment. They’ve got an on-site lodge where you can stay for the weekend, but since it’s only 40 minutes away from Milwaukee, half- and full-day trips here are easy too.

A quiet day at Wilmot Mountain. Photo Credit: Jhon H. Nova (Flickr CC)

Wilmot Mountain

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 50 miles (1 hour)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site, but you can stay nearby at The Abbey Resort
  • Experience levels: All levels

Wilmot Mountain is one of the most popular ski resorts near Milwaukee and Chicago. At around 1 hour away, it’s an easily accessible day trip for Milwaukee dwellers craving some slope time. There are 23 different ski trails to explore on the 120-acre campus, with options ranging from bunny hills to single black diamonds. New to skiing or snowboarding? No problem! There’s an entire beginner-friendly area of Wilmot Mountain with bunny hills for practice. Additionally, guests can rent gear, take lessons, and go tubing.

Grand Geneva

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 50 miles (1 hour)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Grand Geneva Resort
  • Experience levels: Beginner & intermediate

For beginners looking for friendly ski resorts near Milwaukee to learn, Grand Geneva is a fantastic option. Many visitors to the resort say that it’s a great, supportive environment for beginners to learn and grow in the sport, as the resort is located on a smaller hill. Guests boast friendly staff and a family-friendly atmosphere that’s perfect for groups or individuals who want to learn and progress. In addition to the snow sports area, Grand Geneva has an entire lodge and resort attached to it that’s open year round, so there’s plenty to do on and off the slopes.

Cascade Mountain

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 105 miles (1.5 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site; the closest hotel is Best Western Portage
  • Experience levels: All levels

So you want to spend a long weekend at a ski resort, shredding the slopes and sharpening your skills? Sounds like you need to get over to Cascade Mountain Resort! This large ski resort in Portage, Wisconsin has 47 trails for skiers of all levels, offering all of the main amenities like rentals, lessons, and season passes.

Perhaps the coolest thing about Cascade Mountain is that you’ll find skiers of all levels here, as well as a ski shop and tech shop to purchase gear. Additionally, there are tubing slopes for folks who would rather fly down the slopes without all that technical know-how.

Tyrol Basin

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 110 miles (1 hour, 40 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

Terrain lovers, Tyrol Basin is a great spot for you! With 17 trails and a huge section of the resort dedicated to terrain parks, adrenaline junkie riders and skiers will have a blast at this small Wisconsin resort. In addition to recreational skiing and riding, Tyrol Basin also offers racing programs for kids and adults. On weekdays, you can get an all day lift ticket for under $20, a steal among the other options on our list.

Photo Credit: winny lucas (Flickr CC)

Devil’s Head

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 110 miles (1 hour, 45 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

Devil’s Head Resort is famous around Chicago for a lot of things, and skiing in certainly one of them. While the resort does offer slopes for all levels, including beginners, the real draws here are for more experienced skiers. The resort area’s 500-foot vertical drop boasts 30 runs of varying steepness, including some extra-challenging double black diamond slopes. Needless to say, Devil’s Head is one of the largest and most thrilling ski resorts on our list.

Where to Stay Near Devil’s Head: Best Western Portage

Nordic Mountain

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 120 miles (2 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

If you’re looking for a small resort that also offers a challenge, Nordic Mountain is a great option for skiing near Milwaukee. There’s an entire dedicated learning area, with several other trails ranging from gentle green slopes to challenging double black diamond glades. Additionally, there’s a whole section of the resort specifically filled with terrain park areas for some thrilling adventures. For families, the park also offers several tubing runs for those wanting to enjoy the snow without skiing or snowboarding.

Christmas Mountain Village

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 125 miles (2 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Christmas Mountain Village
  • Experience levels: All levels

One of Wisconsin’s most beloved ski resorts is Christmas Mountain Village, which is a small park home to 16 trails. They’re also open until 9 PM on weekdays and 10 PM on weekends, and night skiing here is one of the regulars’ favorite activities. However, because it’s such a small resort and it’s so popular, lines here can get long and the trails can be crowded. We’d recommend arriving as soon as it opens on weekends or going on weekdays when the crowds are considerably smaller.

Granite Peak

  • Distance from Milwaukee: 186 miles (2 hours, 45 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

As one of the largest winter sports recreation areas in Wisconsin, Granite Peak is a MUST for skiers and riders in the Milwaukee area. Compared to other ski resorts near Milwaukee, the whopping 68 trails across over 200 acres at Granite Peak offer skiers the opportunity to try lots of new runs over a long weekend or a winter getaway. It’s also the highest vertical drop in Wisconsin, with over 700 feet of elevation.

Skiers and riders of all levels will enjoy the variety of trails at Granite peak, ranging from beginner-friendly green runs and hills to double black diamond thrillers. Regulars to Granite Peak love it for being the most comprehensive and well-run ski resort in Wisconsin; some even say you might forget you’re skiing in the Midwest here!

Additional Resources for Snowboarding & Skiing Near Milwaukee

What to Pack

  • Waterproof outerwear – Possibly the most critical pieces of clothing for your ski trip packing list is durable, waterproof outerwear. Burton and Helly Hansen are famous ski brands for having best-in-class clothing that will keep you warm in the coldest, snowiest conditions. Click here to shop ski jackets and compare prices.
  • Thermal layers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. Our favorite brand of thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
  • Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommend these ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.

Related Articles

Let’s face it: winters can be long and tough in the Midwest, especially in a northern state like Minnesota. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors every so often at one of the local ski resorts near Minneapolis! From beginner-friendly ski hills to mountaintops catering to more advanced athletes, the Midwest haws a surprising number of options for snow sports lovers of all levels. We created this guide to the best spots for snowboarding and skiing near Minneapolis so you can plan a thrilling winter getaway to the slopes this year!

Best Ski Resorts Near Minneapolis and the Twin Cities

Hyland Hills

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 15 miles (20 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: Beginner & intermediate

As the closest winter sports recreation area to the Twin Cities, Hyland Hills is one of the easiest places to go snowboarding and skiing near Minneapolis. At less than half an hour from the city, you can easily go for a full day or just a few hours after work on winter days. There are only a handful of runs at Hyland Hills, but it’s open for night skiing every day during the winter season so that you can drop in for a post-work ski day.

Despite its location so close to the Twin Cities, you may be surprised to learn that the trails at Hyland Hills span green bunny hills to black diamond challenge trails, most suitable for beginner and intermediate practitioners. First-time snowboarders and skiers can also take lessons at the SnowSports Academy.

Buck Hill's ski slopes are illuminated during a night skiing session. Buck Hill is one of the closest ski resorts near Minneapolis.
Photo Credit: Anthony Auston (Flickr CC)

Buck Hill

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 20 miles (30 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

As one of the Twin Cities’ local ski hills, Buck Hill is a wonderful spot for snowboarding and skiing near Minneapolis. While it’s a smaller resort, home to less than 20 trails, there’s a variety of difficulty levels that are suitable for beginners all the way to black diamond-level practitioners. Since it’s so close to the city, you can take an easy day trip here or even hop on the slopes after a day of work! To accommodate different schedules and experience levels, there’s night skiing and lessons available for skiers and snowboarders as well.

For non-riders, there’s also a tubing area that’s tons of fun for the entire family to get outdoors in the wintertime. There are also 3 restaurants on-site (including a Waffle Bar…yum!) that provide delicious provisions while you’re taking a break or waiting for the skiers in your group.

Afton Alps

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 30 miles (40 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

More experienced riders and skiers in the Twin Cities area, rejoice! With 48 trails spanning mostly blue and black diamond ratings, Afton Alps is the largest and most diverse of the ski resorts near Minneapolis. It’s just 40 minutes outside of the city, making this resort one of our top recommendations for snowboarding and skiing near Minneapolis.

This resort has it all – several chairlifts to every trail, night skiing, lessons/rentals, plus 7 restaurants and mountainside fire pits for when you need a break from the slopes. It’s also owned by Vail Resorts, so you can access Afton Alps with an Epic Pass.

Welch Village

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 47 miles (1 hour)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site, but plenty of hotel options in nearby Red Wing, MN
  • Experience levels: All levels

If you’re looking for a larger resort for snowboarding or skiing near Minneapolis, Welch Village is a fantastic option. With 50 trails over 140 acres of terrain, Welch Village is considerably larger than many of the other ski resorts near Minneapolis. It’s also just an hour from the Twin Cities area, making for an easy half- or full-day winter day trip from the city.

There are trails spanning a variety of levels, from beginner bunny hills to black diamond rated runs. The Back Bowl area is specifically designated as a black diamond-only area, perfect for more experienced skiers looking for a bit of a challenge without going too far from home.

Trollhaugen (Wisconsin)

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 50 miles (1 hour)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: Beginner & intermediate

Located in Wisconsin near the Minnesota border, Trollhaugen is a medium-sized ski resort that boasts 24 trails. With mostly green and blue-rated trails, it’s a perfect spot for beginner and intermediate riders and skiers to get some great slopes under their belts.

It’s just an hour from the Twin Cities area, making it a great place for skiing and snowboarding near Minneapolis. They also have a great Friday night special, making Trollhaugen a wonderful spot to kick of a weekend of wintertime adventures. For non-skiers/snowboarders, there’s tubing available during the winter on site on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.

Wild Mountain

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 60 miles (1 hour, 15 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

For those looking to step up their game or simply tackle a diverse set of trails, Wild Mountain is a great option for ski resorts near Minneapolis. Despite its smaller size, Wild Mountain’s 26 trails range from beginner slopes to double black diamond terrain, one of the few double black diamond rated runs in the Twin Cities area. Visitors recommend this park for beginners specifically, as the green runs are well-maintained and good for learning, and there are plenty of opportunities to level up to blue runs as well.

Photo Credit: Ron Tamondong (Flickr CC)

Powder Ridge

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 70 miles (1 hour, 20 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

As a small ski resort located less than an hour and a half from Twin Cities, Powder Ridge is a fun, family-friendly winter sports area for skiers and riders of all levels. There are just 12 trails here, but they range from small bunny hills to black diamonds and terrain parks. For non-skiers, there’s a tubing hill available on site that offers tubing during the day and laser tubing at night. Regulars at Power Ridge say it’s one of the best ski resorts near Minneapolis for families and kids especially.

Mount Kato

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 85 miles (1 hour, 30 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: Intermediate & advanced

For more advanced riders and skiers, Mount Kato is a wonderful option for ski resorts near Minneapolis and the Twin Cities area. It’s a small resort, with just a handful of trails, but the vast majority are rated as intermediate or advanced-level runs. There are also several terrain parks on the premises for those looking for an adrenaline boost! They’ve got Friday night 2-for-1 specials as well as deals on night skiing, which they have every night during the winter and spring seasons. Locals love the variety in difficulty of the trails as well as the friendly customer service and maintenance of the resort area.

Photo Credit: MarLeah Cole (Flickr CC)

Spirit Mountain

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 150 miles (2 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at the Mountain Villas
  • Experience levels: All levels

Located near Duluth, Spirit Mountain is a beloved choice for skiing in northern Minnesota. At around 2 hours from the Twin Cities, a visit to Spirit Mountain is doable as a day trip or a weekend getaway from the city.

With 22 trails, the resort has a variety of terrain catering to all different levels of riders and skiers, from absolute beginners to seasoned athletes. Snowboarders especially enjoy Spirit Mountain because of its fun terrain parks and competitive training programs for those wanting to level up their skills. On site, there’s also tubing for non-skiers/riders as well as a Nordic Center with groomed cross country trails.

Mount La Crosse (Wisconsin)

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 165 miles (2 hours, 40 minutes)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

Located south of the Twin Cities area in Wisconsin, Mount La Crosse is a small but mighty contender on our list of the best ski resorts near Minneapolis. It’s a small to medium sized resort with long trails ranging from beginner friendly green runs to double black diamonds. Locals absolutely love the slopes here, with many having “grown up” in their riding or skiing on this mountainside. Trails are well-groomed and they have snowmaking all season long to keep conditions favorable for skiers and riders of all levels.

Granite Peak (Wisconsin)

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 185 miles (3 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Not on site
  • Experience levels: All levels

As one of the largest winter sports recreation areas in Wisconsin, Granite Peak is a MUST for skiers and riders in the Twin Cities area. Compared to other ski resorts near Minneapolis, the whopping 68 trails across over 200 acres at Granite Peak offer skiers the opportunity to try lots of new runs over a long weekend or a winter getaway. It’s also the highest vertical drop in Wisconsin, with over 700 feet of elevation.

Skiers and riders of all levels will enjoy the variety of trails at Granite peak, ranging from beginner-friendly green runs and hills to double black diamond thrillers. Regulars to Granite Peak love it for being the most comprehensive and well-run ski resort in Wisconsin; some even say you might forget you’re skiing in the Midwest here!

Photo Credit: Brett Whaley (Flickr CC)

Giants Ridge

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 50 miles (1 hour)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at the Lodge at Giants Ridge
  • Experience levels: All levels

Giants Ridge is one of Minnesota’s most beloved ski resorts. With 35 trails spanning all levels of experience, you’re sure to find something that suits you perfectly at this medium-sized ski area. There are also lodges and restaurants on site so you can turn your ski or snowboarding adventure into a longer winter getaway. During the winter, Giants Ridge also offers snowshoeing, cross country skiing, tubing, and fat tire biking if you’re wanting to try something other than downhill skiing and snowboarding.

The sun rises over Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort in the winter. This is one of the largest and most beloved ski resorts near Minneapolis.
Photo Credit: Tony Webster (Flickr CC)

Lutsen Mountains

  • Distance from Minneapolis: 250 miles (4 hours)
  • Accommodation available? Yes, at Lutsen Mountains Resort
  • Experience levels: All levels

As one of the largest ski resorts in Minnesota, we couldn’t leave off Lutsen Mountains from our list, even though it’s not necessarily the closest place to go skiing or snowboarding near Minneapolis and the Twin Cities. Bordering Lake Superior, this set of mountains is a picturesque and family-friendly spot for a few days of hitting the slopes and disconnecting from the city.

Boasting over 60 central runs (and an additional 30+ “sidecountry” runs), this large resort has everything you need to have a perfect winter adventure. With an on site lodge, snow sports school and rentals, a variety of dining options, and some great apres-ski options, there’s no shortage of things to do off the slopes here as well.

Additional Resources for Skiing and Snowboarding near Minneapolis

What to Pack

  • Waterproof outerwear – Possibly the most critical pieces of clothing for your ski trip packing list is durable, waterproof outerwear. Burton and Helly Hansen are famous ski brands for having best-in-class clothing that will keep you warm in the coldest, snowiest conditions. Click here to shop ski jackets and compare prices.
  • Thermal layers – Thermal baselayers are absolutely critical for a smooth skiing experience, as these will keep you warm and dry underneath your outerwear. The best kinds of thermal baselayers are made of Merino wool, which is moisture-wicking and comfortable. Our favorite brand of thermal layers is SmartWool – their tops and leggings are soft, lightweight, but warm and durable for all kinds of outdoor activities, including skiing. Click here to shop thermal tops and leggings and compare prices.
  • Ski goggles – No ski trip packing list would be complete without a pair of fog-resistant ski goggles, especially if you’re going somewhere that makes artificial snow. Ski slopes often have snow blowing into the air several times a day and it can be hard to keep freezing snowflakes out of your eyes, even during clear days. We use and recommend these ski goggles. However, you can shop ski goggles and compare reviews/prices here.

Related Articles

With tons of beaches, lakes, and beautiful waterfront areas, Los Angeles is a fantastic place for stand up paddle boarding. SUP in Los Angeles has become increasingly popular over the last several years, and is now a local favorite activity for exploring the many waterways the city has to offer. Whether you’re a beginner who has never set foot on a board or are an experienced SUP practitioner, there are tons of great places to go stand up paddle boarding in Los Angeles!

Top Places to Go Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Los Angeles

Castaic Lake State Recreational Area

  • Location: Castaic, CA
  • Rentals Available: Yes

A principle part of California’s State Water Project, Castaic Lake State Recreational Area features 29 miles of beautiful shoreline, and contains two bodies of water. For stand up paddle boarding, head to Lower Lake for a scenic escape from the city and loud power-boats. Paddling also is allowed on the upper reservoir, which includes more than 2,200 acres and 29 miles of shoreline and coves to explore.

If visiting, paddling to the 425-foot tall Castaic Dam is one major attraction in this beautiful reservoir. The park also lies next to Angeles National Forest- a great spot for an afternoon hike and lunch!

Just 40 miles north of downtown Los Angeles, Castaic Lake is a must for paddlers of all abilities. Kayaks, paddleboards and pedal-driven hydra bikes ($25 an hour; $75 for five hours on Saturdays and Sundays) are available for rent on weekends.

How to Get There: Take US-101 N towards Sacramento, then I-5 N towards Castaic to Castaic Road.

A stack of canoes is ready for rent at many of Los Angeles' marinas!
Bring your own boat or rent from one of Los Angeles’ many marinas start your water adventure!

Puddingstone Reservoir

There’s no better place to cool off from the California sunshine than Puddingstone Reservoir in Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park. With five miles of shoreline to paddle down and beaches to swim around, there is plenty for all ability levels to explore in this park.

With over 250 species of birds spotted around the reservoir, this lake is guaranteed to have abundant wildlife and is clean, as motorized boats are not allowed on the reservoir- go check it out!

Stand up paddle boarding in Los Angeles is easy with Wheel Fun Rentals (stand-up paddleboards start at $12 per hour) at the swim beach and east shore. Visitors can bring their own stand up paddle boards, but they must be inspected before entering the water.

How to Get There: Start on 101-S to San Bernardino Freeway towards E Via Verde St., then to Raging Waters Dr. and Puddingstone Dr.

Boats, houeboats, and houses peek through bushes and tress around beautiful Huntington Harbor- the perfect place for beginners to kayak in Los Angeles!
Views of boats and luxury homes border the sprawling waters of Huntington Harbor. Photo Credit: Gregg L Cooper (Flickr CC)

Huntington Harbor

  • Location: Huntington Beach, CA
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at OEX ($10/hour)

A hot-spot for beginners, Huntington Harbor’s protected waters have a smooth and subtle current that are perfect for stand up paddle boarding in Los Angeles! With tons of canals to discover, Huntington Harbor is perfect for beginners and thrill-seekers who want to experience something new (especially in the northwest corner of the beach).

Stand up paddle boards are available for rent at OEX with rates starting at $20 for up to two hours. Typically, guided tours around the harbor last about 90 minutes. If you are launching your own paddle board, head to Seabridge Park or Trinidad Island Park for a free launch into the water.

How to Get There: Start on 101-S, toward San Diego, then take exit 20 for Bolsa Chica Road to Wanderer Ln.

A single kayaker marvels at the gigantic mountains and trees of Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles.
Paddlers can enjoy gigantic mountain views while paddling on Pyramid Lake. Photo Credit: NW Boating (Flickr CC)

Pyramid Lake

  • Location: Castaic, CA
  • Rentals Available: No

Hidden among interstate I-5 in the Angeles National Forest, Pyramid Lake is known for its fishing and peaceful conditions for paddle boarding in Los Angeles. Pyramid Lake is known for being windy, especially in the afternoon, so be careful and hold onto your hats!

Novice paddlers should definitely explore the first four coves on the eastern side of the lake, a perfect hideaway from the wind, and conveniently located by the Tin Cup picnic area (food is fuel!). If you’re an early riser, get out on the water; you can sometimes spot deer grazing on the Priest and Glory Hole Coves.

If launching your own boat, head over to  Emigrant Landing Launch for free entry. Trust me, you won’t want to miss the vivid hues of green and blue that appear on Pyramid Lake.

How to Get There: Take I-5 N towards Sacramento, then take exit  191 for Vista Del Lago Rd.

Jagged cliffs and countless coves litter the coast of the Santa Cruz Islands, which makes kayaking in Los Angeles so thrilling to explore!
Explore the numerous coves along Santa Cruz Island!

Santa Cruz Island

  • Location: Santa Cruz
  • Rentals Available: Yes

Arguably the most popular island for stand up paddle boarding in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz Island has hundreds of sea caves to explore. One of the most notable areas to try paddle boarding is at Painted Cave, one of the largest sea caves in the world.

Tons of companies offer tours of the island and its caves. Santa Barbara Adventure Company offers paddle boarding lessons and tours. If you’re headed out to the caves, remember to pack a good headlamp to light up the multi-hued cave walls, with colors caused by lichen and minerals. While you’re in the area, you can also go snorkeling to admire the many marine species in the area.

How to Get There: Visitor centers in Ventura and Santa Barbara are readily accessible by car or public transportation, but getting straight to Santa Cruz Island requires taking a ferry run by Island Packers (offered 5-7 days a week, hour-long ride).

A group of kayakers huddle uo near the sandy shores of Marina Del Ray. With beaches and wildlife, Marina Del Ray is one of the most accessible places to kayak in Los Angeles.
Paddle along the sandy beaches of beautiful Marina Del Ray. Photo Credit: Alex Chong (Flickr CC)

Marina Del Ray Harbor

Bursting with life, Marina Del Ray Harbor is an awesome place to explore all LA has to offer! Paddlers can peruse Fisherman’s Village along the coast, a strip of cute shops and restaurants. Marina Del Ray offers eight protected canals for smooth and ideal paddling.

Stand up paddle boarding through Marina Del Ray is always an exhilarating experience; wildlife, including leopard sharks, can be spotted all around. This popular spot can get crowded, so it is recommended to get out on the water as soon as possible.

The Pro SUP Shop at Mother’s Beach offers stand-up paddleboards for rent. Standard paddleboard rentals cost $25 an hour, and lessons are also offered. Marina Del Ray Boat Rentals also has tons of rental options ready to go right on the beach! If launching your own boat, head to Mother’s Beach or Marina Del Ray Launch Ramp for free entry to the water.

How to Get There: Start on I-10 W towards Long Beach, then CA-1 S to Playa Vista onto Via Marina Rd.

Bright blue waters crash against the rocky cliffs of Catalina Island, a ferry ride away from Los Angeles.
There’s never a better time to explore the beautiful coastline of Catalina Island! Photo Credit: Matt Swiller (Flickr CC)

Catalina Island

  • Location: Catalina Island
  • Cost: $75 roundtrip ferry ride to the island
  • Rentals Available: Yes- at DBOS

Located just 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, Catalina Island boasts coves and clear waters that make it ideal for spotting wildlife while paddle boarding. Observant paddlers can catch a glimpse of California’s state marine fish, golden orange garibaldis, in addition to leopard sharks, dolphins, and other marine life.

Catalina Island’s 52 miles of coastline can be explored on a solo journey or through the tons of guided tours on the island. Stand up paddle board rentals are available from DBOS, and are priced by the hour, giving you total control over how much time you want to spend exploring this beautiful place.

Although it takes a little planning to get to Catalina Island, the shorelines are accessible to all levels, making it a great island getaway. This island getaway offers a truly unique experience paddle boarding in Los Angeles without having to spend big bucks on a vacation.

How to Get There: You can get to Catalina Island by boat or helicopter. There are daily ferry departures from San Pedro, Long Beach and Dana Point to Avalon and Two Harbors, and helicopters from Newport Beach.

Additional Resources for Stand Up Paddle Boarding in Los Angeles

What to Pack

  • Swimsuit: Wearing a swimsuit is essential for being out on the water! When canoeing and kayaking, chances are you are going to get wet, so best to be prepared! Click here to compare styles and prices for our favorite swimsuits.
  • Sunglasses: Being out on the water is beautiful, but the water can really reflect light! Make sure to bring a pair of sunglasses and croakies to keep them from falling off.
  • Hat: It’s best to keep the sun of your head to keep you cool. Whether you prefer a nice bucket hat or a vintage baseball cap, keeping cool will ensure an awesome trip.
  • Water Bottle: Keeping hydrated is no joke! Paddling is a great way to exercise and relax, but that means it takes a lot of energy too! Make sure to drink plenty of water throughout your trip with these cool water bottles.
  • Sunscreen and Bug Spray: Don’t let the elements stop you from having an amazing paddle! I recommend bringing sunscreen and bug spray in the boat with ou to ward off any pests and sunburns.

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Summiting a “14er” (that is, a peak whose altitude is over 14,000 feet), is one of the most popular Colorado bucket list items among hikers. These tall, towering peaks dotted around the mountain ranges of the state are some of the toughest summits to reach in Colorado, which is what makes them so coveted. Among some of the less technical, more accessible 14er summits is the Quandary Peak hike, which begins near Breckenridge, CO and climbs over 3,000 feet to a summit of 14,265 feet. In this post, we’ve outlined our complete review and tips for conquering this beautiful peak and experiencing the thrill of a high altitude summit for yourself.

Quandary Peak Trail: The Basics

The Quandary Peak hike is best known for two things: being the closest 14er to Breckenridge, CO and being one of the easier 14ers to summit in Colorado. While it’s still definitely a strenuous hike, it’s certainly one of the most accessible 14er summits in the state. In fact, one member of our group hiked this summit in flip flops (although we do not recommend this; please wear a sturdy pair of hiking boots on this trail!).

Because this summit is non-technical, lots of hikers of different experience levels attempt to bag this peak on weekends in the warmer months of the year. It’s one of the most popular 14ers in Colorado for this reason.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the Quandary Peak hike:

  • Trail Distance: ~7 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 3,100 feet
  • Difficulty: Strenuous

Things to Know Before Hiking Quandary Peak

Hiking the Quandary Peak Trail is fairly straightforward, but here are a couple of things to know before you head out:

  • Parking for the Quandary Peak hike is limited, so prepare to arrive early. There is a designated parking lot for the trail, but it fills up as early as 7 AM on weekends or holidays. Many people park along the street once the parking lot is full, but there have been some reports of enforcement of illegal street parking. Proceed with caution if you choose to do this.
  • Like most summit hikes, the last half of the trail is completely exposed. Be sure to come armed with sweatproof sunscreen, a breezy trucker hat, and polarized sunglasses to protect yourself from the direct sun rays at altitude.
  • Bring lots of water, as there are no water sources along the trail. Literally, there are zero. Be sure to pack all of the water you need in a water bladder or a thermal water bottle. We had a fellow hiker ask us for water about halfway up the trail…don’t be that guy!
  • You’ll probably see at least one mountain goat along the path. Don’t be alarmed! These guys hang out above the tree line on the mountains near Breckenridge and are generally docile when left alone.

Quandary Peak Hike Review

Beginning the Hike

Once we parked, we walked past the parking lot up a dirt road toward the official trailhead. The trail was very clearly marked, and there were a lot of people embarking at the same time, so we had no trouble finding the trailhead on the left hand side of the street. Armed with all of the important day hiking essentials and lots of cold water, we felt apprehensive but ready to tackle the 7+ miles of the Quandary peak hike.

The first section of the hike was a steady incline through the pine forests, which provided plenty of shade and protection from the sun as we began our ascent. It wasn’t too bad yet, but several of us could already feel the toll on our lungs from the altitude (we’d just gotten to Breckenridge a few days prior). Several steep switchbacks brought us up through the first mile, which ended with a little bit of rest on a fairly flat section of trail.

Crossing the Tree Line

After we crossed the last bit of tree shade, we found an exposed field of rocky scree and large boulders. The steepness remained about the same as before, but with the sun now beating down on us, the hike became a bit more difficult.

We continued onward for about 45 minutes in this section, pushing forward and taking breaks as needed. Not surprisingly, our group’s chatter quieted at this point, all of us in silent agreement to save our breath for the hard work ahead. After another 1.5 miles or so, we reached the saddle, which again provided a little bit of flat trail before the last, steepest ascent to the peak.

The Last Push to the Summit

The final push to the summit after the saddle was definitely the hardest. By this time, it was mid-day and the sun was high above us, and all we could see ahead on the trail was boulders and rocky scree along the path. In the last 1 mile or so, the elevation gain was ~1,000 feet with a steep grade of 25%+. Although it was a short distance, this part felt like it took the longest and required the most stops.

After several quick pauses to catch my breath, I finally made it over the final bump to the summit area, which was a flat walk across the peak to the official summit. We ended up spending around 45 minutes up top, taking photos with cardboard signs and admiring (or maybe being intimidated by…) some of the snowy white mountain goats that accompanied us up there.

Once it was time to descend, we went back the way we came, trying our best not to slide down the steep paths of gravel and scree. None of us brought trekking poles, but if I were to ever tackle this hike again, I’d definitely bring them as they’d definitely be really useful for the descent. The descent from the summit to the car took us an additional ~2 hours, after which we were definitely ready for a big lunch and some much-needed R&R.

Additional Resources for Hiking in Colorado

What to Pack

  • Hiking boots – You can’t hike without appropriate footwear, period. For most trails, we recommend an all-purpose waterproof boot with ankle support. We recommend Salomon hiking boots or Keen hiking boots for a comfortable hike.
  • Breathable hiking clothes – For warmer hikes, you’ll want to stay cool in a sweat-wicking shirt/tank top and breathable pants, like these PrAna hiking pants for men and women. For cold-weather hikes, we recommend dressing in layers, including merino wool baselayers, an insulated puffer jacket, and a waterproof outer shell. And don’t forget a pair of the best hiking socks in the world!
  • Trekking poles – You won’t need these for every single hike, but we recommend throwing them in your car anyway just in case. We recommend the Black Diamond foldable trekking poles, which are lightweight and easy to transport.
  • Water bottle – Having water available at all times is a huge must. To spare disposable plastic, we recommend bringing your own refillable water bottle. We’re obsessed with Hydro Flask bottles because they keep water cold for hours, but a good old Nalgene works very well too.
  • Sunscreen and bug spray – This should be self-explanatory, but sweatproof sunscreen and DEET bug spray can help you avoid sunburn and bug bites, two of hiking’s most annoying after-effects.
  • A brimmed hat or cap – The sun can be brutal in open hikes, so always pack a brimmed hat or cap for day hikes in the sunshine.
  • Emergency blanket and first aid kit – We’d strongly recommend bringing a first aid kit and a lightweight emergency blanket on every hike. Why? Because the unfathomable can happen, and it’s always best to play it safe.
  • Durable day pack – A durable day pack is the perfect spot to stash all your hiking gear. While any backpack will do, we recommend Osprey day packs because they’re comfortable and breathable for long hikes.

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