The Minneapolis Skyline at night | Photo: Tony Webster | Cover: Afton Alps

Living comfortably in a quaint mountain town with rad skiing just miles away is an unfathomable dream for most winter sports enthusiasts.

The lack of decent work in ski towns, not to mention affordable living, can push skiers to compromise their dream of settling down in a mountain town.

Also Read: Major City Ski Haven’s – Seattle & Alpental

So where do you go ski or get away from the crowds, when you live in a city of millions? Fortunately even in the most crowded centers of North America, just hours away from the hustle and bustle of city life, there exist ski havens whose slopes are legendary.

The Twin Cities > Afton Alps Commute

For those willing to brave the cold temperatures, Afton Alps is ground zero for the Minnesota metro ski and snowboard scene. Under 30 miles from both of the twin cities, Afton Alps is a quick getaway to hot lap the short trails, or session the terrain park.

The Afton Alps Atmosphere

Snowmaking crews consistently maintain the surface of 300 acres and 50 trails at Afton all winter long. The 18(!) lifts available alleviate congestion and present an impressive statistic for overall uphill capacity per hour.

Midwestern powder day | Photo: Afton Alps

Midwest skiing may not be much in comparison to the resorts in the East or Western parts of the country but when you consider the Twin Cities metro area hold mores than 3 million residents, it’s worth noting the ski and snowboard talent coming out of such a small ski hill.    

You won’t find crazy steeps or massive vert at Afton, but the Highlands and Alpine areas at least present an experience worth driving a mere 30 minutes for. If you are more in to boxes, rails and jumps, Afton is a classic stop for rope-tow terrain park action.

One of the more interesting moves taken by Vail Resorts was to buy and add Afton Alps to their roster of ski areas in 2012. The move to take over the adored ski area didn’t go unnoticed and local opinion was passionately split at the announcement. Now the ski industry is taking notice at the acquisition as more midwesterners are purchasing Vail EPIC pass product and thus vacationing at other Vail properties.


  • Average annual snowfall: 60”
  • Vertical drop: 350’
  • Skiable acres: 300 acres
  • Lifts: 18
  • Trails: 50
  • Night skiing: Yes. On 200 acres, three lifts, main terrain park

Planning a ski trip to the Midwest shouldn’t necessarily be on everyone’s must-do list, however any respectable ski bum shouldn’t down the opportunity to rip some turns at Afton. So if the opportunity presents itself or you call the Twin Cities home, make sure to give the neighborhood ski area a chance.

Find out more here: Afton Alps