Giants Ridge in Minnesota is a popular destination for skiers and snowboarders. As part of a series on ski resorts, Huffington Post Travel offers our guide to Giants Ridge, featuring all the key information snow lovers need to know before they hit the slopes.
The BasicsLocated in the mountains on the cusp of the city of Biwabik, Minn., Giants Ridge rests an hour from the Duluth International Airport (or about three hours north of the Twin Cities) and offers skiers and snowboarders 35 pristine alpine runs. Equipped with six lifts, the resort's longest trail -- "Easy Way" -- measures approximately 4,000 feet. For adult skiers, there are a number of rigorous runs, and children can sled on the mountain side of The Lodge (sleds are provided). The resort also attracts vacationgoers year-round with 60 kilometers of groomed and well-tracked cross-country trails, complete with a newly improved lighting system.
The MountainAt its highest peak, Giants Ridge's elevation reaches 1,972 feet. The mountain also offers a 500-foot vertical drop. The winter season spans from December to the end of March, with a snow tubing park and packed snowshoe trails available during the cool months. An intermediate and beginner's terrain park are situated among the park's 35 trails. Its snow is mostly powdery, but conditions depend on the time of year. For added valued, the ridge packs 23 million cubic feet of man-made snow atop the 40-plus inches of natural snow, coating the 202 mountain acres in a beautiful bed of white.
Trails and LiftsTrails run the gamut in terms of their difficulty; 32 percent are beginner courses (12 trails), 44 percent are intermediate runs (15 trails) and 25 percent are what the Ridge categorizes as expert level (8 trails). The two most popular trails, Helsinki and Innsbruck, both feature speeds of up to 450 feet per mile (or 2.28 miles per second), with racecourses typically set up on Innsbruck. Six total lifts -- two triple chair, three double chair and one surface lift -- provide easy access to the mountain. For those seeking a little after-dark fun, night skiing is available.
In The NewsGiants Ridge topped the charts in Ski magazine's Top 60 Reader Resort survey in 2002, landing it among the nation's most acclaimed ski resorts. The survey gauged winter sports enthusiasts' interests, and the results positioned Giants Ridge at the top of the heap. Resort guests can enjoy a weekend of fun at Giants Ridge's annual Spring Carnival, which features ski and snowboard competitions, live music and costume contests. The mountain also plays host to a number of national competitions, including the annual Pepsi Challenge Cup Race, which usually draws around 500 to 600 skiers who participate in the 50K and 25K classic races.
CostLift tickets for adults during prime season (Jan. 2 to March 18) cost $39 for a full day, $29 per half day, and $16 a night, with senior citizens receiving a $10 discount off full days. Tickets in the spring (March 19 to close), meanwhile, are $39 for a full day (not including night skiing) and $29 per half day. Holiday tickets (Dec. 26 to Jan. 1, Feb. 20) are $48 per full day, $43 per half day and $16 for a night session. Season passes for adults start at $240; for children 7 to 12 it's $140 (not including rent pack); for college students it's $169; and kids 6 and under are free. Private alpine ski lessons and private snowboarding lessons for adults 6 and up start at $47 per person for a one-and-a-half-hour session.
Apres-SkiLooking for a good time after you've hit the slopes? Wintertime amenities include hiking, pontoon and fishing boating, restaurants and bars, an indoor pool and a full-service spa. Apres-ski dining options include the Mountainside Bar & Grill, which serves up homemade pizza, wraps and salads; Friday Night Walleye Fish Fry; and Saturday Rib Night. Guests can also sip on a hot cup of coffee from the Coffee Shop to warm up from their icy ventures.
WATCH: Giants Ridge
Skiers race down the slopes at the Pepsi Challenge at Giants Ridge.