– Number of ski resorts: 20
– Oldest resort: Lutsen Mountains – Opened 1948
– Newest resort: Giants Ridge – Opened 1984
Skiing took hold in Minnesota earlier than in 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 American ski factory, in St. Paul. In 1932, Minnesota became the first state to make skiing an official high-school sport.
Lutsen Mountains, the state’s oldest ski resort, opened atop what later became the biggest ski area in the Midwest. The resort started as a family home with rooms rented out to new settlers. Following World War II, the inn was transformed into a four-season resort with a ski lift and two runs added in 1948.
Climate change is rapidly affecting Minnesota’s ski areas, as the upper Midwest U.S. is warming more rapidly than any other region in the country. The state’s winters are, on average, 7 degrees warmer than 50 years ago, which has caused havoc on slopes throughout the state. Buck Hill constructed an artificial, 4-acre ski slope of malleable plastic to stretch the ski season and even offer skiing in the summer months. Legislators throughout the state have also discussed “Snow Angel” grants to help ski areas adapt to the warming winters.