Photo courtesy Huff Hills Ski Area
Bears Den Mountain, Ft. Ransom • 30 skiable acres on 290′ vertical • CURRENTLY CLOSED
Specs: Summit elevation: 1190′; Base elevation: 900′. 3 Lifts: 1 double chair, 1 t-bar, 1 magic carpet. Uphill capacity: 2500/hr. Terrain Mix: 25-50-25. Longest Run: 2000′. Season: usually December to mid-March; Wed, Fri-Sun, holidays. Night skiing W & F. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 35″. Snowmaking: 100%.
The SKInny: Formerly Fort Ransom Ski Area. Great little ski hill with uncrowded slopes. They pack in something for everyone: Groomers, terrain features, ungroomed slopes, tree skiing, narrow trails and wide open slopes. This place is really a hidden gem. Beautiful prairie surroundings, and you can find some giddyup on a couple pitches. Operational status uncertain; we’ve been told the ski area is for sale and not presently open.
Bottineau Winter Park, Bottineau • 40 skiable acres on 200′ vertical
Specs: Summit elevation: 2080′; Base elevation: 1880′. 5 Lifts: 1 triple, 2 t-bars, 2 handle tows. Uphill capacity: 2500/hr. Terrain Mix: 40-40-20. Longest Run: 1200′. Season: usually late November to late March, Thu-Sun. Night skiing. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 18″. Snowmaking: 100%.
The SKInny: Calling itself “The Jewel Above the Prairie,” Bottineau is a smallish but pleasant ski area. Not much here to get your blood pumping, but decent skiing considering this is North Dakota. Seldom crowded, cheap tickets, quaint 60’s era ski lodge. The triple added a few years ago, along with the always efficient t-bars keeps things moving, although there are rarely enough bodies to move.
Al’s Run .
Frost Fire Ski & Snowboard, Walhalla • 30 skiable acres on 350′ vertical
Specs: Skiing suspended for 2016-17 season — Summit elevation: 1350′; Base elevation: 1000′. 3 Lifts: 1 triple, 1 double, 1 rope tow. Uphill capacity: 2600/hr. Terrain Mix: 25-25-50. Longest Run: 2600′. Season: usually late November to late March; Fri-Mon. Rentals & Lessons. Annual Snowfall: 35″. Snowmaking: 100%.
The SKInny: Located by the Pembina River Gorge, this is a beautiful, remote, get-away-from-it-all kind of place. Uncrowded, plenty of snow, unfortunately can be icy at times. Takes hits for being small, but if you want big, you’ve got to head a little further west. Really a spot for developing skiers, but not much else. Update March 2016 death of one of the owners has left Frost Fire in a state of flux…skiing operations were suspended for 2016-17 and it was snow tubing only…as of May 2017 a new foundation has entered an agreement to buy the area and intends to reopen the ski lifts for the 2017-18 season.
Signature Trail: Prairie Smoke.
Huff Hills Ski Area, Mandan • 80 skiable acres on 425′ vertical
Specs: 2 double chairs. Uphill capacity: 1600/hr. Terrain Mix: 40-50-10. Longest Run: 2600′. Season: usually late November to late March; Thu-Sun & holidays. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 40″. Snowmaking: 100%.
The SKInny: Tends toward low ticket prices, small crowds. Liftlines can get long once in a while. Nice hill, scenic; a pleasant if somewhat easy day of skiing.
Signature Trail: Liftline.
Lift Tickets at Discount: This is a “clearinghouse” of sorts that many ski areas use to raise cash by selling discount tickets in advance, called Liftopia. If you haven’t used this service, it is important to knowfor certain that you are going on a specific date. The deeply discounted tickets must be purchased in advance; generally up to two days out. The sticking point is that some ski resorts only make a limited number of tickets available to Liftopia for any given day, so they might be sold out if you wait too long…so, as soon as you are absolutely, positively sure that you will be skiing on a certain day, click this link to get deeply discounted tickets. I’ve used this service many times, but again, ONLY when I am absolutely certain I will be skiing on a specific date. You need to have access to a printer to print out your receipt, and you have to take identification with you to the mountain. I’ve knocked a third off the price of some tickets. Not every area participates, but it’s well worth checking if you’ve got a date nailed down.