2001 Number 5 Resort in the Midwest: Lutsen Mountains, Minn.

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Lutsen is staggeringly beautiful. Encompassing more than 1,200 acres, this New England-style ski resort boasts more than 70 rock-ribbed, birch-lined trails that plummet off four peaks. With a vertical drop that measures more than 800 feet, nothing else touches it in the Midwest. Ranked No. 1 for Scenery, readers also rate it high for Terrain and Challenge. "Best in the Midwest," say many readers, but not all agree. "Slow, antiquated lifts," complain a couple of others. "Poor grooming midweek," another grumbles. Some of the grousing was directed toward the remoteness of the resort, cold weather and lack of nightlife. It's a fact of life, but others love the "cold natural snow," and the fact that Lutsen "isn't overdeveloped yet." It's the one heartland resort where vertical feet skied in a day is a statistic worth measuring. From the narrow, steep expert chutes on Eagle Mountain to the easy flowing boulevards on Ullr and Mystery to long blue cruisers that tumble down Moose Mountain, you won't find better skiing terrain around the Great Lakes. "This is the most Western, mountain-like skiing in the Midwest," concludes one reader.

¿M.T.

WHAT'S NEW

A bigger and burlier snowmaking system, which will provide better coverage on Moose Access and Moose Return, the mile-long connector trails that tie Moose and the other three peaks together.

A GOOD DEAL

The $99 Weekend Getaway includes two nights' lodging and a two-day lift ticket. Reservation availability can be checked online at www.lutsen.com.

HIGH/LOW RANK

Scenery (1), Lodging (3), Terrain (4); Value (18), Lifts (18), Access (23).

DON'T MISS

Papa Charlie's, Lutsen's newest restaurant and nightclub, which has quietly amassed a reputation for excellent seasonal cuisine, entertainment and drop-dead views of the backside of Moose Mountain and Mystery Mountain.

READER REMARKS

(+)"Not built up yet; challenging by midwestern standards."

(-)"Not enough nutritious food; needs more nightlife."