– Number of ski resorts: 20
– Oldest station: Monts Lutsen – Opened in 1948
– Newest complex: Giants Ridge – Opened in 1984
Skiing took hold in Minnesota earlier than most other states due to its high volume of Scandinavian immigration between 1850 and 1930. In 1879, Norwegian immigrant Martin Strand opened Strand Ski Company, the first factory American ski resort in St. Paul. In 1932, Minnesota became the first state to make skiing an official high school sport.
Lutsen Mountains, the oldest ski resort in the state, opened atop what later became the largest ski area in the Midwest. The station began as a family home with rooms rented out to new settlers. After World War II, the inn was converted into a four-season resort with a ski lift and two trails added in 1948.
Climate change is rapidly affecting ski areas in Minnesota, as the upper US Midwest is warming faster than any other region in the country. The state’s winters are, on average, 7 degrees warmer than 50 years ago, which has wreaked havoc on slopes across the state. Buck Hill built a 4-acre artificial ski slope out of malleable plastic to extend the ski season and even provide skiing during the summer months. Lawmakers across the state have also discussed “Snow Angel” grants to help ski areas adjust to warming winters.