One of the things that I love about the Midwest is how many ski areas we have within our region. The Midwest has over 115 ski areas, which is 2nd most of any other region in the United States.
So today, I wanted to talk about five ski areas that you may or may not have heard of that, in my opinion, desire a little more awareness among Midwest skiers. If you enjoy this type of content, drop a comment below and let me know, as there are plenty more of these ski areas that we can cover in future videos. But without future ado, let's dive into this one.
Bruce Mound is a ski area located in Merrillan, Wisconsin - just south of Eau Claire and about 2 hours from the Twin Cities area. This ski area is operated by Clark County and offers ten runs and 375 feet of vertical drop, all serviced by one chairlift and four surface lifts.
But this is a prime example of a ski hill that out-skis its stats by a long shot. The terrain at Bruce Mound is some of the best in the region and is only rivaled by ski areas much further north. The beginner's area has some excellent terrain for getting into the sport, but its more advanced terrain is where this ski area shines.
Off of the chairlift, you'll find a blue run, Half-Moon, that wraps around the back side of the hill but runs Ahl-The-Way, John's Run, and Silent Hill offer up some great groomer pitches with some excellent side hits along the way.
If tree skiing is what you are chasing, check out the area between Half Moon and Sunny Slope after some fresh snow from some great tree laps. Onlookers right off the hill, you will find some fantastic terrain in the form of Curious Gorge and Gorgeous Gorge - both of which have plenty of great natural features, including cliffs, outcroppings, and glades.
Bruce Mound offers up night skiing and tubing as well. They have a great chalet with cheap beers, and I mean, what else can you ask for?!
Another great thing about Bruce Mound is you will rarely find crowds here, even on holiday weekends. And with lift tickets ranging from $24 to $34, this is a great spot to hit when looking to escape crowds or on your blacked-out weekends.
Overall, Bruce Mound is a must-hit that is affordable and has some fantastic terrain for more advanced skiers and riders. Given its terrain, it's a great place to head on those rare powder days or a Friday after a midweek storm - since they are usually closed mid-week.
Coffee Mill is a ski area located in Wabasha, Minnesota, about an hour and a half from the Twin Cities area. This ski area offers 14 runs and 425 feet of vertical drop, all serviced by two chairlifts and one surface lift.
Coffee Mill's location, right next to the Mississippi River, offers some great views of the surrounding bluffs, but on top of that, this location also gives Coffee Mils some unique terrain. Shaped in a bowl, although this ski area doesn't have tons of runs, they have a great variety of pitches ranging from longer gentle runs such as Chippewa Connect to Chippewa to more aggressive pitches like O'Chute - which is their signature run.
Another great trail is Run of the Mill, which has a more moderate but consistent pitch that takes a fun dog-leg to the skier's right and offers up some great turns. Like Bruce Mound, Coffee Mill's steeper terrain is great on those rare powder days. This terrain, coupled with their low crowds, makes this a great place to hit on a powder day or a holiday weekend.
Coffee Mill offers up night skiing, and one of the best food deals out there - a beer and brat for just six bucks! And speaking of value, with daily lift ticket prices ranging from $20 to $45 - this is a great day trip option for those looking for something different than their local hill.
Overall, Coffee Mills offers some unique terrain and has a great vibe that is definitely worth a visit, especially if you live in the twin cities area.
Christie Mountain is a ski area located in Bruce, Wisconsin, just over two hours from the Twin Cities area. This ski area offers 33 runs and 350 feet of vertical drop, all serviced by one chairlift and five surface lifts.
Christie Mountain is one of those ski areas that you are surprised more people don't know about. Christie has an excellent variety of terrain and even marked cliff drops, which is rare in the Midwest.
Right under the chairlift, you will find a variety of nicely pitched runs such as Beast, Porcupine, and Grizzley - and although there is some runout at the end, these runs offer up some quick and fun chairlift laps, but if your looking for the best bang for your buck don't skip the T-bar.
Located on lookers left of the hill, the T-bar never has crowds and offers up endless laps on some of the best runs at Christie. The Edge, Lynx, and Wildcat all provide some great turns, and I have to say there is something special about riding up that old T-bar lift line.
Christie also offers a variety of glades such as Timber Pup, Timber Wolf, and Maple Grove - although not extremely large, they offer up some great turns in the trees - especially after some fresh snow.
On top of all this, Christie has a great park layout with a dedicated highspeed rope. They offer tubing and night skiing as well. Daily lift tickets range between 36 to 48 bucks offering several specials as well. You find cheap eats and excellent beer pricing in the chalet, rounding out this ski area very nicely.
Overall, Christie is a great little ski hill that offers a little bit of something for everyone and is an excellent change of pace compared to ski areas closer to the Twin Cities metro.
Elm Creek is one that many of you may already know, but if you don't, you should - especially if you love riding the park. Elm Creek is a ski area in Maple Grove, Minnesota, just minutes from the Twin Cities.
This ski area offers six runs and about 70 feet of vertical drop, all serviced by five surface lifts. But you don't go to Elm Creek for the stats - Elm creek serves two major types of skiers and riders - beginners and park rats.
Hyland Hills is a name that has risen to the top for park riders around the Midwest. Well, meet its younger and somewhat cooler bother, Elm Creek. The Three Rivers Park District operates Elm Creek, the same district that oversees Hyland Hills. Each season, they do a feature swap, which is always fun, but the point is these guys know how to build great parks.
Unlike Hyland, Elm has a much chiller vibe with mellower features that create a perfect spot for beginner park rats or anyone who wants to ride solid features without the snake or be snaked. What Elm lacks in vertical feet, they make up with in park features - cramming something for everyone across their small footprint.
Features are well maintained and switched out regularly, meaning you'll always have something new to look forward to at Elm. And since two high-speed ropes service their park - it all adds up to the perfect place for low-key park laps just minutes from the Twin Cities.
Elm is also great for beginners or those looking to get into the sport as they have carpet and handle tow with a beautiful slope for those first-timers. This terrain, coupled with the fact that tickets are just $17 and rentals $20 - makes for a cheap, convenient, and easy way to introduce someone to sport. On top of this, Elm Creek has a beautiful spacious chalet and offers night skiing, cross-country skiing, and tubing - so pretty much something for everyone.
Overall, is Elm the place you'll spend an entire day lapping groomers? Of course not, but if you want to teach your buddy how to ride and want to take a few solid park laps yourself - you can't beat the vibe, price, and location.
Como Park Ski Center/Mt. Como
Como is a little-known gem among the Midwest skiing community. Located right in Saint Paul inside Como Park - this small ski hill offers excellent value for those looking to get into the sport.
The ski hill sits on the Como Golf course, around the green of hole number one to exact, and offers roughly four runs and 100 feet of vertical drop, all serviced by two double rope tows. Como is by no means a big ski hill, even under Midwest standards - but it's the perfect place for someone to experience skiing or snowboarding for the first time on a budget.
Tickets are just $15, and rentals are $15 as well. This means, for $30, you try skiing or snowboarding any day of the week. And yes, even on holiday weekends. Better yet, if you go on Friday, you get a rental and ticket for just $20. At that price, entire families can come out and ski for the price of a single lift ticket at some of the bigger Midwest hills.
And although Como is small in size, it does ski much bigger than you would think and has a solid pitch. They also have a small terrain park with various features that anyone can have a blast on. Best of all, the hill is often empty, meaning as you practice your skills as a newer skier or snowboarder, you'll have plenty of space to do so. And although the pitch is a bit steeper than some other beginner hills, there is a decent runout to give those straight shooters plenty of space to slow down. Just ensure you save some energy, as you'll have to make the par four walk back to your car.
Como Park Ski Center is a hidden gem for anyone looking to try out our sport. Of course, avid skiers and riders will not spend an entire day here, but you would be surprised how much fun you can have on a small hill helping others experience the sport for the first time.
But there you have it, five underrated, not well-known, & budget-friendly ski areas near the Twin Cities. If you guys want to check more ski resorts like these near you - be sure to take a look at our comprehensive guide at midwestskiers.com/resortguide. But until next, I hope all of you have a great week; pray for snow, and I'll see you out there!