Minneapolis is a vast frozen land from November through March offering loads of snowboard action. Young and old alike layer up and shed couch time to hit the Midwest slopes, streets, and parks. More than ten resorts can be found within two hours of the Twin Cities (Minneapolis and St. Paul). Whether you’re coming in on the backside of a snowstorm, chasing snow to shoot city rails, or riding in one of the area’s great regional events, you’ll be in the land of 10,000 riders—now let’s explore.
By Peter Harview
Chas Chaffee presses to impress at Hyland- the closest snowboard park to downtown Minneapolis.
Photo: Ryan Taylor
Where To Ride
The snow starts falling around Thanksgiving, but it doesn’t really get going ’til January and February. The downside to these months is that most people find the temps hard to deal with, so roll into Minneapolis late February or early March for the best riding. It’s also at this time that a lot of great regional events start to happen on weekends. Rent a car ’cause there will be driving to do to reach all that Minnesota has to offer.
Hyland Hills—City Sessions
The closest mountain to the city center, what Hyland lacks in size (250 or so vertical), it makes up for with two parks accessed by two high-speed towropes. At times you’ll find hundreds of kids ripping these parks to shreds. Ride the center lift to get a top view of the chaos or try to find the path of least resistance. Hyland also has north and south lifts to get you to the top of its 250 vertical. Preteens and teens have a run of the place, so if you want to ride Hyland’s parks the best time is in the day when the “locals” are all busy with the books. Also avoid weekends when the ski schools are packed with two-plankers and newbies galore, crowding an already stressed lift system.
Distance From Minneapolis: 12 miles
Best for: Warm up for street sessions.
Buck Hill-Pipe Skills
South of Minneapolis in the suburb of Burnsville, Buckhill boasts the only halfpipe in the immediate area. Though it’s not a Superpipe, it is accessed by a towrope, making the number of hits plentiful. Buckhill is continuing to improve its terrain by adding 100,000 yards of fill to raise the elevation of its park run. Buck has hosted some notable events thru the season such as Rome SDS’s Premature Jibulation, The Foundation Snowboard Camp, Forum’s Snake Session, and the Midwest Massacre. Buck offers plenty of lifts and fun riding close to the city. Hit up the early bird special ten-dollar lift tickets (daily 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.) or Sunday night special (7:00 p.m. to close).
Distance From Minneapolis: 19 miles
Best For: Riding pipe in the metro area.
Powder Ridge-Ripping Weekends
Northwest of Minneapolis in Kimball, is a hill that the Bald-E-Gal crew calls home. With the support of The Youth Shelter Supply, Powder Ridge hosts great events all year. Volcom’s Peanut Butter And Rail Jam, The Snowrider Classic, and The Sterns Cup are some of the events that draw Minneapolis’ finest to its slopes. With parks and varied terrain, Powder Ridge has born solid all around rippers such as Ezra Jacobson and Dan Brisse. On a good snow day, duck the rope and get a short blast of powder and steeps between Sidewinder and Outback.
Distance From Minneapolis: 78 miles
Best For: Great weekend event.
Trollhaugen-Ride The Fields
Troll, as it’s affectionately known, offers a variety of terrain including great freeriding runs with rollers, fence ollies, and lips to rip. Hit Lee’s Run and pick your line to Jumping Judy or The Chute. Ride Logan’s Run and hit the natural hip or the mini drops for fun. Troll also offers two parks to make the most of the session. Once again, both parks are accessed by towropes for your ripping pleasure. With an old school lodge, fun runs, and a ton of great riders, this spot will stoke you out. “The Haug calls.”
Distance From Minneapolis: 52 miles
Best For: Ripping fun runs.
Spirit Mountain-Superior Views
Spirit Mountain is about two hours north of Minneapolis. It’s a diamond in the rough, with plenty of runs and an epic view of Lake Superior. Spirit’s terrain is varied from south side tree runs to the well-maintained Superpipe. The Park is designed by local shred Eric Christopherson whose efforts result in a strong flowing park hosting large features and the mammoth 60-foot Showtime kicker with a monstrous landing. Spirit can be brutal in the heart of winter—even though it offers the most terrain, it can turn the hardiest Midwesterner into an icicle. So come up in March when Spirit’s spring session gets heated and the local lines are dialed.
Distance From Minneapolis: 147 miles
Best For: Some of the best riding the Midwest has to offer.
Mike Oster busts loose at Powder Ridge- you can, too. Photo: Ryan Taylor
Minneapolis is a hidden gem in terms of lifestyle. Eats, city flavor, entertainment, shops, shows, and snowboarding make it a special spot. If you enjoy the jams, the local scene is full of talent and venues that are certain to be booking your favorite group. So check the Internet and come slide snow and peep a show.
This Downtown pizza shop has pizza by the slice up until 2:00 a.m. They also have a full menu and bar, vegetarian choices, killer ’zza, and a great staff. Locations in Downtown, Uptown, Seward, St Paul, and Duluth make it accessible as well.
119 North 4th Street, Minneapolis. (612) 333-7359, pizzaluce.com
This spot has a great menu with a twist on American food. It has a mod decor and fashionable staff (which includes Hyland Hills locals), who treat you right. Be sure to try an Elvis Burger. Locations in Edina, Highland Park, and Minneapolis make it easy to get to.
2990 West River Parkway, Minneapolis. (612) 721-2711, longfellowgrill.com
Sunnyside Up Café
Breakfast at its best—Midwest style. Sunnyside has the best french toast in Minneapolis, mean biscuits and gravy, and great eggs to back it up. Large portions and great service make this a mandatory morning spot.
2702 Lyndale Ave South, Minneapolis. (612) 870-4817
There are many local choices for Thai, but this is my favorite for the great food, location, and vibe. The 4th Street location has a good bar and is attached to a sushi joint for additional options. There are six Sawatdee locations—three in Minneapolis, two in the Suburbs, and one in St. Cloud.
118 North 4th Street, Minneapolis. (612) 373-0840, sawatdee.com
Wow! Well there’s Uptown, Downtown, Northeast, Dinkytown, West Bank, St. Paul, and all the Suburbs to name a few neighborhoods to aim your car at. The Twin Cities brings it every night—live music, great people, and better times. Here’s a short list of spots that are worth checking out while in town.
From Prince & The Time to Peter, Bjorn, & John, this downtown venue offers great space and great shows. Visit the smaller room, 7th Street Entry, to see the next band you’ll hear in the Mack Dawg’s videos. Stiff drinks and dance mode hits on the weekends.
701 First Avenue North, Minneapolis. (612) 332-1775,
A Northeast hangout with a mean streak for Rum drinks staffed with skaters who know what you want from a rockin’ Saturday night. There’s lots of flavor at Suzi’s, and an outdoor patio that goes off on the weekends.
2519 Marshall Street Northeast, Minneapolis. (612) 788-9069, psychosuzis.com
Located uptown, this spot’s got what you need: people, sounds, pool, and a nice bar with an upstairs smoking patio two stories over the busy streets.
3001 Hennepin Avenue, Suite A201, Minneapolis. (612) 378-1905, theindependent-uptown.com
The Triple Rock Social Club
You know the foods going to rock at this spot located off Interstate-94 on the West Bank. Owned by a member of one of Minneapolis’ great bands, Dillinger 4, you should come by for shows and a great menu. Get your social on!
629 Cedar Avenue, Minneapolis. (612) 333-7499, triplerocksocialclub.com
Get old school at this classic corner bar with plenty of lurkers and busy pool tables. Stop in for a quick one and then break downtown to heat up the night, or stay and pass out in the corner.
Lyndale and 26th, Minneapolis.
Roll to Grumpy’s in downtown for the Jukebox—voted one of the best in the Twin Cites. Also check out the OP-OX Art Gallery out back. It always has a great show running. The food is all-American favorites and the mix of people is fun.
2200 4th Street Northeast, Minneapolis. (612) 789-7429, grumpysbar.com
Spirit Mountain locs. Photo: Ryan Taylor
Minneapolis, like all cities, hosts many hotel options, but these are all good choices in terms of snowboarding.
Right in the mix of campus life on the cheaper end and not far from downtown and only blocks from Highway 94, which gets you everywhere.
2407 University Avenue Southeast, Minneapolis. (612) 623-9303
Le Bourget Aero Suites
A medium priced hotel in the suburbs near Hyland Hills and minutes from downtown.
7770 Johnson Avenue South, Bloomington, Minnesota. 1-800-449-0409
Graves 601 Hotel Minneapolis
A high-end boutique hotel across the street from the Target center downtown.
601 1st Avenue North, Minneapolis. (612) 677-1100, graves601hotel.com
Ryan Braski slides backwards on his board at Spirit Mountain. Photo: Ryan Taylor
More shops than you can shake a board at—they’re all ridiculously ’core and tied into the local scenes.
Go here to find that one rail from that one video. It also features a great selection of all the brands you’re looking for. Also, I know your deck needs a base grind—ask for Scott, he’ll get you dialed right in.
1715 West Lake Street, Minneapolis. (612) 822-6840, cal-surf.com
The Youth Shelter Supply
St. Clouds answer to all the right questions—supporting Midwest snowboarding with events, videos, and knowledge. The staff’s top notch and has been for years. It has product you want, so when you’re in town for the Peanut Butter & Rail Jam, hit up the Shelter.
71 3rd St N.E., Waite Park, (320) 656-7773, youthsheltersupply.com
Damage is the new kid on the block but supporting the scene hard with its way late season event aptly titled Damage Revisited. Held May 12 at Spirit Mountain, it gives everyone a spring shot of snowboarding amp. Damage is down for the get down, hit Ben and Jack up.
1904 West Superior Street, Duluth. (218) 724-4027, damageboardshop.com
The FL Project
The FL Project offers the northern Suburbs the goods with a strong women’s selection and a great team of shredders. Stop in on the way to Trollhaugen or Wild.
155 Lake Street North, Forest Lake, (651) 464-4150, theflfproject.com
Zombie Boardshop is right next to Buck Hill. Break a strap or need that fresh new jacket? Shawn and the Zombie crew got your back. They also do a great pre-season rail jam in the parking lot. 15100 Buck Hill Road, Burnsville, Minnesota. (952) 892-0047
Check out how to prepare yourself for a true Minnesota rail trip here.