Where to Take Downhill Skiing Lessons Near Minneapolis

I would guess few people know that Minnesota is a good state for skiing. True, there are no mountains here, but there is lots of snow and hills. In fact, there are even several places to go downhill skiing near Minneapolis.

As someone who learned to ski in the Twin Cities area, I can safely recommend the following locations as good places to take lessons and become an expert at the sport:

Welch Village Ski and Snowboard Resort (26685 County Road 7 Boulevard, Welch, Minn.)

Located about an hour south of Minneapolis, Welch Village is the largest ski hill in the Twin Cities area with a 360-foot vertical drop and 60 trails. It's also one of the best places in the region to take skiing lessons, as they have many different programs for ages 11 and up. Their most popular lesson plan is the Starter Kit Program, which gives you three lift ticks, three equipment rentals, and three one-hour group lessons for $99. Other packages include a three-week course where skiers are grouped by ability, as well as a one-hour lesson for first timers for only $25. Additionally, there are many comparable options for kids 4 to 10 years old.

Afton Alps (6600 South Peller Avenue, Hastings, Minn.)

Afton Alps is about an hours drive east of Minneapolis. With a 350 foot vertical drop and 48 trails, it's almost as big as Welch Village. You can take skiing lessons there at any one of six difficulty levels. Level one is for those who are new to the sport, and level six is for advanced skiers. Afton Alps has conveniently made a video to help you determine which level you are in. They also offer private lessons for $45 an hour. Another good program is a free beginner lesson with the purchase of a lift ticket and equipment rental.

Buck Hill (15400 Buck Hill Road, Burnsville, Minn.)

Although Buck Hill is known for having simple trails that lack in diversity, it's located just south of the city, making it a more than suitable location for beginners to take lessons. Indeed, they offer daily lessons to anyone age 6 and up. These last for at least one hour and they cost $20. Buck Hill gives private lessons as well, though they are a bit more expensive than usual at $60 for an hour.

Wild Mountain (37200 Wild Mountain Road, Taylors Falls, Minn.)

Wild Mountain is located near the Wisconsin border and is around an hour northeast of Minneapolis. It's a decent area to ski with 26 trails over the course of 100 acres. At Wild Mountain there are a surprisingly large number of lesson varieties. This includes family programs, separate men's and women's race programs, and a program for high school skiers. Prices vary based on the lesson type, but are fairly typical. For comparison, a private lesson is $50 per hour.

Floyd Saunders is a native of snowy Minnesota. He has been a downhill and cross-country skier since childhood, and he has dabbled in snowboarding, snowshoeing, hockey, and ice fishing.

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Updated Thursday, Nov 3, 2011