Lutsen Mountain Meltdown

Where are all the avid Lutsen shredders at?  Upon moving to the Duluth area a few years ago I had my first Lutsen Mountain experience in 2009.  I was so disappointed that I had NEVER been there.  We are so fortunate to have snowboarding/skiing of that quality only a short drive away, especially because you get to look at the beautiful Lake Superior while doing so, which is also possible in Duluth, but up there you don’t have the industrial eye-sore.

With a vertical of 1,088 ft., 4 “mountains” and 92 runs this place has become my, and a large group of local snow enthusiasts, favorite weekend getaway.  They have extremely reasonable rates for rooms.  If you’re into roughing it you can camp on the Superior Hiking Trail.  It’s family friendly, and party friendly with Papa Charlie’s right on site which has brought some class act musicians including the Gear Daddies, Trampled by Turtles, Railroad Earth and lots of other bands that stinky hippies like!

This weekend is the last chance to get some time in on the slopes, the last three weekends have been filled with all sorts of warm slushy goodness!  Since Spirit Mountain closed down already (not even going to go there) a lot of us have been going up any chance we get.  The traditional closing weekend festivities will begin on Saturday morning @ 11:30.  If the weather is good, like it was last year with temps in the high 50s and sunshine, they’ll be grilling cheap burgers and dogs (veggie options available too if I’m not mistaken) outside with awesome deals on drinks as well.  The music line up is

Saturday, April 16
Al Church & State 11:30 am
Pictures of Then 1:00 pm
The Book of Right On 2:30 pm
Bella Ruse 4:00 pm
Enchanted Ape, 21+ 9:30 pm (inside)

Sunday, April 17
Unnamed Stream 11:30 pm
Trails End Band 1:00 pm
Cook County’s Most Wanted 2:30 pm
Timmy Haus 4:00 pm

All of the music is free, and they have 2 for 1 lift tickets and 2 for 1 lodging at their Eagle Ridge resort, which as all right next to the run.  Their restaurant, Mogul’s has a smorgasbord style buffet on Sunday (the last day of their “busy season” usually cleaning out everything from their kitchen, which is always delicious.  If you stop in for a drink make sure to try their awesome Bloody Mary’s and if you’re on a budget get a PBR Tallboy and the Nacho’s (which could feed a small army, or 3 really hungry people for $9.)

So not trying to sound too much like I’m in charge of their promotions (because I sure as hell am not getting paid for any of this crap I’ve spouted off,) I’m wondering why the hell more people don’t get up there?!  There are always so many people from the cities and locals, but it would be nice to see more people from Duluth.  It’s one of the largest resorts in the Midwest, it’s up in the boonies so you can get away with way more crap than the pompous asses at Spirit will put up with, and it’s the best place to see typical “northern folk” doing typical stuff … like driving a four wheeler on multiple feet of snow with work boots and cargo shorts, or families that all ski in full Carhartt outfits, blaze orange hunting attire, or snowmobile get-ups.

So if you don’t have anything to do, or don’t feel like doing what you “should” be doing, get your ass up to Lutsen for the weekend, or the day!


Paul Lundgren

about 13 years ago

I'm far from an avid "shredder," but I do get to Lutsen about once a year and it is a great time. I actually do see other Duluthians there, but always in Papa Charlie's and not on the slopes. It's hard to recognize people who are bundled up on ski hills. 

Lutsen is also a pretty big place, so the odds are not in favor of running into other Duluthians. If you are skiing with a group of people and get separated from them you will not see them again until you meet them at the bar, unless you get super lucky or have a cell phone on you. So running into people you're not specifically looking for is rare.

Because of the more expansive terrain and steeper, longer runs, Lutsen is obviously better than Spirit Mountain, but it's a shame you had to slam Spirit in your post. I've always had fun there. (Don't take my criticism as an invitation to explain in detail your animosity for Spirit Mountain in a comment; if you don't like it you don't like -- that's fine, I get it.)

Viva la Lutsen!


about 13 years ago

As a person who lives in a cornfield, and has to drive an hour each way to ski in a shitty river valley, I find your lack of appreciation for Spirit Mountain disturbing.


about 13 years ago

Not to join the Lutsen "love-fest", but I will agree it's about as good as it gets for the drive.  I was disappointed, however, a few Friday's back when I took a sick day and although all lifts were running on Moose, only one lift was running on Eagle.  The "ski local" program can't be beat.  The Crew at Cascade Vacation Rentals always sets us up with great lodging.


about 13 years ago

Spirit is fine for what it is -- I love the Timber Cruiser, the view as you are skiing down it is pretty cool. I skied Lutsen once, will have to do it next winter, b/c you are right, it is fabulous. Spirit's great b/c you can go there and get some skiing in on a moment's notice. When the kid was younger, we'd go to Mont du Lac. It was great for a beginner skier, as you didn't have the lines you get at Spirit.


about 13 years ago

I am ignorant of the "ski local" program.  What is it?


about 13 years ago

Lutsen is indeed the best place to ski in the state but also the most expensive. The resort has undergone some fantastic upgrades as far as skiing and amenities go, but those costs have been passed onto the consumer as well.  Once you make that turn up Ski Hill Rd you can almost feel the pull of the VISA card from the wallet! Spirit has it's own charms and is still the better bargain when it comes to carving turns with the family. As far as clientele, I would say the quota of "pompous asses" is far greater up the shore at the psuedo Vail known as Lutsen.


about 13 years ago

I think the comment on Spirit was more intended to be... "Why in the world did they close so soon???" 

More of a management comment than a slam on the slope.

Or at least that's how I read it. And I thought the exact same thing.


about 13 years ago

Spirit always closes in March due to an accounting/legal  issue. If they close in March, they do not have to buy liability insurance for April.


about 13 years ago

I've only been there once, and yes it is expansive compared to other places in the tri-state area.  Maybe I went at the wrong time of year though, because basically the area was just a couple of large balls of ice.

Yes, it was expensive, but they do brand themselves as a resort.

I'll go back maybe once in the the next three years.  To me it's more like going to a water park than real skiing, but I was spoiled skiing elsewhere for years, so take that comment with a grain of salt.

No more mountain biking, sigh.


about 13 years ago

Glad to hear about all of the other people heading up there!  I have no problem with Spirit as a hill, it's pretty awesome to be able to just head over there after work for 5 or 6 runs before they close, or get out there during the day when it's deserted.  But the way they handle their complaints is disrespectful and they don't give seem to care as much about the local people that are supporting them compared to the vacationers they want to attract with their mini-golf and zipline.  I understand they need to make more money and have to offer a wider variety of attractions to do so, but Lutsen gives locals $20 off of their $60 lift tickets, or a season pass for $140....  

I've also heard the bit about their insurance and that being the reason why they won't stay open.  If that's so, why don't they tell people that instead of saying it was "due to weather conditions, which are out of our hands."  It's like being a little kid that wants to do something and you're parents say no and won't give you a real reason why!

Lusten this past weekend was really nice, beside the windy drive up on Friday night.  We got our rooms at half price and all enjoyed their $1 tap beers (any tap!) at Moguls on Sunday.  Going up there does not have to cost anyone an arm and a leg, we always cook up a bunch of food before we go, bring our own booze and sometimes we camp or share rooms with a few people.  But if you're going up there for music at Papa Charlie's you should probably expect a big bar tab and expensive covers.  

To get cheaper rates or a season pass for next year go to


about 13 years ago

Smithers:  Not to pick you apart here but you are throwing some unsubstantiated bombs.  

You criticize Spirit for the the mini golf and zip line pandering to tourists.  Well, have you heard of the Alpine Slide at Lutsen?  And do you really think all the luxury condos up there are for locals?  No, they are for tourists, and pretty high end ones too.

"it's up in the boonies so you can get away with way more crap than the pompous asses at Spirit will put up with"  

What are you doing, snorting coke off your skis?  I heard they have hidden cameras on some of the lift towers up there...  I'm a ski patrol at Spirit.  We let people do pretty much whatever they want as it's not endangering their life or that of someone else.

Lutsen is great, I grew up skiing there.  But it's not perfect either.  You don't have to rip the hell out of Spirit to compliment Lutsen.  They both do a good job at their own things.


about 13 years ago

No neither are perfect, and it seems the operations at Lutsen are getting a bit more strict anyways as far as checking for lift tickets and such. 

At Lutsen you can drink beer in the parking lot, hell they don't even say anything when you bring one on the lift with you (not that I advocate drinking combined with snow sports.)  

They are a bit more lenient with refunds up there or at least vouchers in my experience.

This winter getting my season pass (a few months late due to traveling) I had to provide 4 types of documentation for Spirit, which a few of them were overlapping things like an photo I.D., student I.D, Fall registration, Spring registration.

I could go on but I won't, because you are right a lot of it is due differences in management, Spirit being owned by the city, etc.

But I did see a middle aged woman snort a line of coke in the bathroom at Papa Charlie's on Saturday night!  All the more reason to stay out of there... and there $5 rail drinks, boo.


about 13 years ago

wrote that last comment before I left work!

In that last phrase I meant their*

Also just want to say that I don't think Spirit is complete sh*t, if I did I wouldn't spend the money to get a pass there, or frequent at the Moosehead.

But, I did go to both Lutsen and Spirit's closing days and as a "local customer" for both resorts I feel like I can tell where their priorities lie.

Spirit closed the hill earlier than they do the rest of the year (because of their spring hours.)  Regardless of why they closed down, whoever runs their Facebook should probably come up with a better reason than lying to people and saying it was because of "weather conditions."  There was full coverage on almost every run and snow conditions were prime the last day.  If they're shutting down for legal/financial reasons, SAY SO!  They also closed the bar/restaurant immediately after the hill closed, because of their staff party.  I snowboard out their a few times a week all winter long, on the last day of the season I wanna go get some waffle fries and a pint to give myself some closure.

At Lutsen they cut their ticket prices in half, offered half price rooms and stayed open their normal operating hours.  They even had FREE live music offered all darn weekend!  When the mountain closed on Sunday we went to Moguls and had an amazing gourmet buffet for $10 and any kind of tap beers basically free ($1,) where they also had free live music.

Both places sent two different message upon their closing days.

Spirit:  We've basically made all the money off of you we could, now get the hell off of the property so we can have our staff party and prepare for our summer business.

Lutsen: Hey we're super bummed the skiing season is over too come have some food, listen to music, ski and stay for half price and drink away your sorrows.

Lutsen party all the way!


about 13 years ago

Wait, did he use "gourmet" and "buffet" in the same sentence?


about 13 years ago

Indeed he did.


about 13 years ago

I'm hoping he's a she, since he was in the women's bathroom at Papa Charlie's.


about 13 years ago

I was hoping someone would pick up on that!  and yes I did use the word gourmet... I guess over the years of living here OCB has ruined my idea of buffets.  So when we ate there and literally everything they were putting out was good, and the dishes were different every time they were replacing something that ran out, I over exaggerated the quality and should have found a more accurate word than "gourmet."


about 13 years ago

I can't gripe or criticize. I grew up on Furr's Cafeteria and Pancho's Mexican (authentic family style, a'la buffet/table service. I sir, was no slouch. I've been known to eat more than I should at one of those things.


about 13 years ago

Considering how sh*t this area is, and how long and boring the winters are I am grateful for Lutsen. It is good for what it is. Spirit is alright too, but Lutsen is worth the drive.

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