Midwest Living Review
Poles in hand and skis strapped on, it's daunting deciding where to go first at Lutsen Mountains, the Midwest's largest and steepest downhill ski resort. There are 1,000 acres and 90-plus runs spread across four mountains. Our pick: Moose Mountain with its red gondola and views of Lake Superior glittering like sapphires beyond the green and white forest. Fortunately for most visitors, the number of ski resorts and lakeside accommodations make it easy and enticing to stay the weekend (or longer). That allows plenty of time to explore the narrow forest paths, wide-open runs, moguls, and jumps and pipes for snowboarders. Eagle Ridge Resort, Caribou Highlands, Papa Charlie's restaurant and bar, the rental shop and main chalet perch midway up Eagle Mountain. It's also where day visitors can park after driving 1.5 miles uphill from State-61 and Lake Superior's shore. Lessons are offered to all ages at Flapjack, the learning hill where the "magic carpet" conveyor belt takes skiers to the top to practice skills with help or on their own. It's also close to the chalet for lunch or hot cocoa breaks and close to lifts leading to Ullr Mountain and Eagle Mountain for beginning and intermediate runs. Get there early -- runs open by 9 a.m. on weekends -- to make the most of the day. There are no lights for skiing after dark. Most lifts close between 4 and 4:30 p.m. during the short winter days, but the local music scene helps fill in evening entertainment. Besides glittering lake views, Lutsen's location gives it some of the state's deepest snow and its longest ski season. Runs open by Thanksgiving and last into April. That means spring break on the North Shore is usually an extended waltz with winter. The best deals are usually combined with lodging packages here or nearby, or found online. Lift tickets are $49 to $59 per person; stay and play packages from $99/person.