Lutsen (pronounced Loot-sun, it's Swedish) is big, rambling and probably the best "pure" ski resort in the Great Lakes region. With, perhaps, the finest fall-line skiing between Denver and Albany, it's charming, distinctive and unique for the Midwest. For starters, its 800-foot vertical drop looms large over other Great Lakes ski resorts, and while most heartland areas ski off a single peak or ridge, Lutsen skis off four mountains. "Best in the Midwest, closest to a real mountain experience," a reader gushes. With 72 runs, seven chairlifts, a surface tow and mid-America's only gondola spread out over 1,000 acres, you could call it the "Killington of the Plains." No other regional ski area comes close to matching its size. Lutsen received high marks for Scenery, Terrain and Challenge. From the top of Moose Mountain, Lake Superior fills the top half of your view, the ski runs, the bottom half. "Great snow, long runs, variety and an awesome view of Lake Superior," exclaims a reader. Lutsen's variety of rock-ribbed, birch- and aspen-lined trails will suit all skiers-from the narrow, steep expert chutes on Eagle Mountain to the wide, easy boulevards of Ullr and Mystery Mountains and the long blue cruisers and glades on Moose. Dining and Lodging also rate highly. "I love the atmosphere created by the old-fashioned lodges in the area," a reader remarks. "We'll be back in 2002," says another. -
WHAT'S NEW A third double chair and a new terrain park, complete with a Pipedragon-groomed halfpipe and a new teen hangout near the Village Condos.
A GOOD DEAL An early-bird sale on lift tickets-available through Nov. 15-can save $20 on two-day lift tickets (except during the winter holidays) and as much as $100 on five-day lift tickets. Call 218-663-7281 or visit www.lutsen.com.
HIGH/LOW MIDWEST RANK Challenge (1), Lodging (1), Terrain (2); Family Programs (12), Lifts (14), Access (15).
DON'T MISS Nearly 17 miles of groomed cross-country trails that link with the North Shore Trail, offering spectacular views of Lake Superior. There's even a lodge-to-lodge program. Call Boundary Country Trekking at 800-322-8327.
READER REMARKS (+) "Good long runs and grooming; the granddaddy of the Midwest." (-) "Long lift lines on Moose Mountain; No nightlife."