Lutsen ski and summer resort on the North Shore Minnesota view from gondola

Lutsen Mountains resort offers fun getaways in every season.

One of the best things to do on the North Shore of Minnesota is Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort in Lutsen, Minn. A popular Minnesota ski and summer resort, Lutsen Mountains is perfect for spring break, summer family vacations, autumn foliage leaf-peeping, romantic weekend getaways and, of course, ski and snowboarding trips.

A special thank you to Visit Cook County, Minnesota and Lutsen Mountains Ski and Summer Resort for hosting my husband and me. Opinions are always my own. And we have visited Lutsen Mountains many times on our own. Highly recommend in every season! Lutsen Mountains is one of the best things to do on the North Shore in Minnesota.


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Largest and best ski resort in Minnesota and the Midwest: Lutsen Mountains

Ski lift

The largest ski resort in the Midwest, Lutsen Mountains features four mountains with 95 ski runs, an 8-passenger gondola and a 6-passenger high-speed chairlift. Lutsen Mountains ski resort also offers ski and snowboard equipment rentals and ski and snowboard lessons. This area of Minnesota along Lake Superior receives approximately 10 feet of annual snowfall. And it’s not uncommon to receive measurable snowfall until April. So it’s a long ski season at Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota.

Best things to do at Lutsen Mountains for non-skiers: Ride the Summit Express Gondola for breathtaking views

View from a ski resort gondola

But you don’t have to be skiers to enjoy Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort. My husband and I enjoyed a winter getaway to the North Shore this past season as part of my Minnesota state park challenge. We didn’t ski at all as I’m currently hiking all 66 Minnesota state parks. Lutsen is centrally located to all the state parks on the North Shore. You can read all about our amazing hosted stay at Caribou Highlands Lodge. The best lodging on the North Shore offers ski-in-ski-out (and dog-friendly) units. Opinions are always my own.  

Red gondola looking over fall foliage trees on mountain
Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort is beautiful in every season. I captured this beautiful view in early October 2018.
View of Lake Superior from Lutsen Mountains on North Shore of Minnesota

A scenic summer view of Lake Superior from the chalet at the top of Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort.

View of Lake Superior from the top of Moose Mountain at Lutsen Mountains
View of Lake Superior from the patio of Lutsen Mountains Summit Chalet.

One of the best things at Lutsen Mountains is to ride the Summit Express Gondola 1,000 feet up Moose Mountain in any season. There you’ll find a mountaintop chalet where you can take in the panoramic views of the Sawtooth Mountains and Lake Superior. Specifically, you’ll find lush greenery in the spring and summer, breathtaking foliage in the autumn or snowy landscapes in the winter.

Lutsen Mountains hosted my husband and me on our winter ride on the Summit Express Gondola, but opinions are always my own. I only recommend products and services I would use or try myself. And this was our third visit to Lutsen Mountains (in three different seasons). So I definitely recommend the Summit Express Gondola as one of the best things to do on Minnesota’s North Shore.

Best things to do on Minnesota’s North Shore: Scenic views from Mystery Overlook

Ski resort overlook in the winter
Mystery Overlook observation deck provides stunning views of the mountain tops, trees and Lake Superior in the distance.

When you arrive at the summit, make sure to check out the breathtaking views of Lutsen Mountains from Mystery Outlook’s observation deck. It’s a short trail from the gondola off to the right. Just follow the signs.

Panoramic view of fall colors foliage adn trees with lake in the background
Breathtaking fall foliage views from Lutsen Mountains Mystery Overlook.
Mystery Overlook at Lutsen Mountains in the summer on the North Shore Minnesota

Tip: Even though the calendar may say summer, the Mystery Overlook at Lutsen Mountains can get a bit chilly. Always bring a jacket and hoodie along for those brisk summer days on the North Shore in Minnesota.

Best things to do at Lutsen Mountains: Enjoy a breathtaking dining experience at the Summit Chalet

Ski resort restaurant
Social-distancing protocols in place at Lutsen Mountains Summit Chalet inside dining area when we visited during the pandemic.

You’ll also find the Summit Chalet at the top of Lutsen Mountains with a full restaurant where you can eat inside or outside on the wraparound deck – even in the winter as Lutsen Mountains ski resort’s chalet has patio heaters. Here you can take in the stunning views of Lake Superior, Superior National Forest and mountaintops along with your food and drinks.

View of Lake Superior in the winter on a bright sunny day and blue sky
Take in stunning views of Lake Superior from the patio of Lutsen Mountains Summit Chalet.
Onion rings and a cheeseburger
Lutsen Mountains Summit Chalet offers a variety of menu items as well as drinks.

Women and Mens Restrooms

Does Lutsen Mountains ski resort have public restrooms? Yes, the Lutsen Mountains Summit Chalet features modern restroom facilities outside the restaurant.

Best things to do at Lutsen Mountains: Hike rugged trails on the famed Superior Hiking Trail

Hiking trail through the forest
Lutsen Mountains offers miles of beautiful hiking trails – including part of the Superior Hiking Trail.

You can then catch a ride back down on the Summit Express Godola or ski down. And you can enjoy trekking at several of the best hiking trails in Lutsen Mountains. The iconic Superior Hiking Trail runs through Lutsen (this trail runs from Duluth, Minn. to the Canadian border). From the summit, you can hike down via a spur trail and the Superior Hiking Trail loop. The 4.5-mile trail in Lutsen Mountains is pretty rugged.

Waterfall with fall colors and evergreen trees
Lutsen Mountains hiking trails includes a bridge where you can watch the beautiful Poplar River Falls cascade.

One of our favorite trails at Lutsen Mountains led us to stunning views of Poplar River Falls. Lutsen Mountains is about 1,000 acres so lots of hiking opportunities to nurture your soul.


Listen to the sounds of silence at Lutsen Mountains. There’s nothing wrong with your volume. You can honestly hike in the Superior National Forest to a point where you feel like you are the only person on the planet. So if you’re looking to really get away from it all, then go hiking at Lutsen Mountains.

Best things to do in Lutsen, Minnesota: Ride Lutsen Mountains Alpine Slide

In the summer, you’ll want to check out Lutsen Mountains Alpine Slide. You can ride the chairlift to the top of Lutsen’s Eagle Mountain and then slide one-half mile down on a summer luge sled. The Lutsen Mountains Alpine Slide is seasonal so we weren’t able to ride it during our past two trips in the fall and winter. However, we did enjoy the alpine slide during our summer vacation to Lutsen Mountains when my son was younger. I’ll need to find those photos and add later.

Until then, enjoy this photo gallery of the best things to do on the North Shore of Minnesota – Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort.

Photo gallery of Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort in Lutsen, Minn.

Fall colors and a river and mountain
You’ll find stunning views at Lutsen Mountains – the best ski and summer resort on the North Shore.

River waterfall and fall colors
Hike to the Poplar River Falls bridge to take in this beautiful view at Lutsen Mountains.

Evergreen trees and fall foliage
Take Lutson Mountains Summit Express Godola for breathtaking views like this one from Mystery Overlook.

Lutsen Mountains in the summer on the North Shore of Minnesota

A summer hike at the top of Lutsen Mountains near Mystery Overlook.


Trees in winter with snow on the ground
Hike among some of the most beautiful trees at Lutsen Mountains especially parts of the National Superior Hiking Trail.

Skiers skiing down mountain with trees and lake in the background
Lutson Mountains is not only the largest ski resort in the Midwest, it also has the best views of Lake Superior.

View of Lake Superior from Lutsen Mountains with skiers at ski resort
Lutson Mountains ski resort features four mountains and 95 ski runs with a 825-foot vertical rise.

Ski resort ski and snowboard rack
Lutsen Mountains offers skiing and snowboarding lessons as well as equipment rental.

Ski resort gondala two red cars
Ride the Summit Express Gondola to the top of Mystery Mountain for skiing, hiking, leaf-peeping or dining at the Summit Chalet.


Social distancing sign
Visit Cook County provides a little levity to ensure all guests at Lutsen Mountains remained healthy and safe when we visited back during the pandemic.


Ski resort equipment rental and lessons
Lutsen Mountains offers ski and snowboard lessons. While they do not currently offer adaptive ski equipment, they do offer adaptive ski lessons and welcome guests to bring their own equipment designed for use on the ski slopes.

Lutsen Mountains sign
Where is Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort? Lutsen Mountains is located in Lutsen, Minn. less than two miles off Highway 61 / North Shore near mile marker 90 (turn onto County Road 5.)

Best place to stay on Lutsen Mountains: Caribou Highlands Lodge

Caribou Highlands Lodge is the best place to stay on Lutsen Mountains – it’s only 1/4-mile from the Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort. We loved our hosted stay at our three-bedroom townhome (while we were hosted by Caribou Highlands Lodge and Odyssey Resorts, opinions are always my own). Watch this video to see for yourself why Caribou Highlands Lodge is the best hotel resort in Lutsen, Minn. and the North Shore of Minnesota.

Best places to eat on the North Shore: Moguls Grille & Tap Room at Caribou Highlands Lodge

If you’re looking for fine dining in a casual setting, then Moguls Grille & Tap Room at Caribou Highlands Lodge is the best place to eat on the North Shore. While Odyssey Resorts and Caribou Highlands Lodge hosted our in-room dining experience, my foodie opinions are always my own. Hint: Order the parmesan-crusted walleye with grilled asparagus, garlic mashed potatoes and the strawberry-rhubarb pie. Due to social-distancing guidelines, you must make a reservation or you can order curbside pick-up to eat in your own room like we did. Please check Moguls Grille & Tap Room’s website for the latest updates regarding restaurant capacity and hours.

Related post: Best scenic drive in Minnesota – The North Shore scenic drive along Lake Superior

Sunset over a lake and a lighthouse with a couple standing in a pier
One of my favorite places on the North Shore – Grand Marais is only 17 miles from Lutsen Mountains.
Fall foliage colors and sheer cliffs overlooking Lake Superior - best things to do on the North Shore
One of the best places to stop along Minnesota’s most scenic drive – the North Shore of Lake Superior: Palisade Head at Tettegouche State Park in Silver Bay, Minn. The beautiful Palisade Head is located 35 miles south of Lutsen Mountains.

One of the most scenic drives in Minnesota is the North Shore along Lake Superior (Highway 61). This beautiful road trip starts in Duluth, Minn. where I-35 ends. For nearly 150 miles, you’ll hug Lake Superior as you make your way to Grand Portage, Minn. and the Canadian border. For more of the best things to do near Lutsen, Minnesota, read my comprehensive post: Most scenic road trip in Minnesota – the North Shore on Lake Superior.


Pin it for later: Best things to do on the North Shore in Minnesota: Lutsen Mountains ski and summer resort

Best ski resort in the Midwest Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota

Best ski resort in the Midwest Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota







Author

Twin Cities-based blogger sharing memorable emptynester, solo, family and girlfriend-getaway adventures, as well as my day hiking adventures (including all 66 Minnesota state parks), latest book reviews, and updates on my quest for the best adult mac and cheese. Also two WIPs: historical fiction and psychological thriller

78 comments

  1. Wow! That view of Lake Superior from the patio of Lutsen Mountains Summit Chalet is absolutely beautiful!! The Lutsen Mountains look like an incredible place to visit year round! You would probably find me on the trail to the waterfall!

    1. Thank you so much! Lutsen Mountains offers so much to do. And the views of Lake Superior from the Summit Chalet and the Summit Express Gondola are breathtaking as is the trail leading to Poplar River Falls.

  2. The Lutsen Mountains look amazing. I had no idea there was this much to do up there. Minnesota is so diverse!

  3. I’m not a skiier, but I’m glad you included a section for non-skiiers! The hiking in the summer is more my jam.

    AND SO ARE THOSE ONION RINGS. they look delicious!

    1. Thanks! You would love hiking Lutsen Mountains in the summer! It’s so beautiful in every season! And those onion rings were pretty delicious!

    1. Thank you! I hope you feel inspired to visit! Lutsen Mountains, Lake Superior and the entire North Shore are pretty spectacular!

  4. I love to find out about places I’ve never heard of – and this is one of them. What a stunning area! Amazing views too. Is there any outdoor ice skating? If not, sounds like there’s no shortage of other things to do 🙂

    1. Thank you so much! Lutsen Mountains has some beautiful views! Caribou Highlands Lodge features a winter village that includes an outdoor skating rink (they’re located in the Lutsen Mountains area – just 1/4 from the ski resort). I have a full blog post about our hosted stay. Also, in Minnesota, you can find outdoor rinks in nearly every neighborhood! It is THE state of hockey.

  5. I love that you’ve included things for non skiers (like me) to do in the Lutsen Mountains. I’d definitely take the gondola up Moose Mountain and hike to the Poplar River Falls Bridge.

    1. My pleasure! Lutsen Mountains offers lots of fun things to do for non-skiers. You would love the Summit Express Gondola and Poplar River Falls is so pretty!

  6. There are so many awesome things to do at the Lutsen Mountains even if you don’t ski… which is Me! I would totally ride that Gondola! Your photos are beautiful!

    1. Thank you so much! Yesssss! Lutsen Mountains does offer a lot of fun things to do for non-skiers as well as great activities in other seasons!

  7. We are keen skiers and this looks like a wonderful ski area (as well as all the other things to do!). I need to check if the ski resort is on either the Ikon or Epic pass. We usually get one or both. Do you know if there is a winterised campsite in the area or is it just lodge accommodation?

    1. That’s so awesome to hear! Would love to welcome you to Minnesota. You would love Lutsen Mountains! I’m not sure about the Pass…their website doesn’t mention either. And I’m checking with the Cook County Visitor Center about winterized campsites…and will also check one of my FB hiking groups as I know several camp up there in the winter.

  8. The views of the fall foliage are amazing! I’m from down South so I always love seeing the leaves change colors for fall. If I’m ever up North I’ll have to stop and visit these spots!

  9. I think I’d enjoy the Lutsen Mountains! So much to do in such a spectacular place. I’d def be up for the gondola ride!

    1. I think you’d enjoy Lutsen Mountains also! Lots to do in every season and the Summit Express Gondola is pretty special!

  10. I just moved to Minnesota and have been looking for places to ski! I am a big fan of gondola rides so I can’t wait to check out Lutsen mountains.

    1. Welcome to Minnesota! The North Shore is one of my favorite places in the world! And Lutsen Mountains is the largest ski resort in the Midwest with four mountains and 95 ski runs…it’s awesome in every season…you’ll love the Summit Express Gondola!

  11. I’ve always heard Minnesota was a great state to ski in, but I feel like I also never really hear much about it during ski season? Does that mean it doesn’t really get as busy as like…Colorado resorts for example? That alone would make me want to go! How much are the lift tickets on average?

    1. Lutsen Mountains is the largest ski resort in the Midwest. Not sure how many guests they welcome annually. Looks like they have several different ski packages (one-day adult lift ticket is $92)…with discounted multi-day tickets and flex tickets and more.

    1. Thank you! Lutsen Mountains is so beautiful and they have 95 ski runs so I’m sure there are less intimidating ones. I highly recommend the Summit Express Gondola…great views!

  12. It seems that whatever the season this is oodles of fun. That alpine slide sound particularly so. You are so inspiring with your efforts to do all the national park. Making great use of your domestic year.

    1. Thanks, John! I’m definitely enjoying my staycation in all seasons! It’s been a few years since I’ve been on the Lutsen Mountains alpine slide, but remember it was great fun! Planning to head back up in late spring.

  13. The Lutsen Mountains Resort seems like a great place to get away in Minnesota! I would love to ride the Summit Express Gondola for the views along the way and at the top. The hiking and fall foliage around the resort also looks very appealing.

  14. What a beautiful area to explore and have fun in. I love those nature trails. And I’d be ooohing and aaaahing from the gondolas for sure!

    1. Thank you so much! Lutsen Mountains offers some beautiful nature trails through the Superior National Forest – and the views from the Summit Express Gondola are pretty spectacular!

    1. Thank you so much! We love Lutsen Mountains and the north shore of Minnesota – one of my favorite places in the world.

    1. My pleasure! Love sharing the beauty of Minnesota – especially Lutsen Mountains and the North Shore! Best place to visit in any season!

  15. I would loooove to ski there! What a gorgeous resort (the the views from the gondola look fabulous!)

    I really love the covid-19 signs that say you should stay a moose apart from each other! We felt pretty safe skiing this year (until everything was shut down this weekend) as the social distancing on the slopes was really good here…

    1. Thank you! I thought the moose social-distancing signs were so clever! Lutsen Mountains on the North Shore in Minnesota is a beautiful destination for a ski vacation, summer retreat or fall foliage viewing. And you would love the views of Lake Superior and the Superior National Forest while skiing.

  16. The fall foliage is absolutely breathtaking. I’ve never been to MN but these views are enough to make me want to change that! Thank you for the recommendations:)

    1. That makes me so happy to hear! I love sharing the beauty of Minnesota – especially the North Shore, which is one of my favorite places in the world. Fall foliage season is especially breathtaking.

  17. Wow, I’m not much of a skier but I’d definitely take a ride on the Summit Express Gondola for those incredible views! I’d also like to admire the views from Mystery Overlook too, it looks beautiful! Thanks for the great guide!

    1. Thank you so much! You definitely don’t have to be a skier to enjoy everything that Lutsen Mountains offers! Riding the Summit Express Gondola to the top to get the view from Mystery Outlook is one of my favorite things to do. We love the North Shore in Minnesota.

  18. This mountain area looks beautiful! I would definitely like to go on the gondola ride up the mountain to take in the views and go on a hike or two.

    1. Thank you so much! Lutsen Mountains and the entire North Shore in Minnesota offers the best hiking views. And definitely recommend the Summit Express Gondola at Lutsen Mountains – stunning views!

  19. This looks like a fabulous place. The views from that gondola ride are breathtaking, especially in the fall. Love it!

    1. Thank you! We’ve been to Lutsen Mountains in the summer, fall and winter (need to make it up there yet this spring when the waterfalls are rushing at full force with the melting snow). The views from the Summit Express Gondola are so stunning…especially in the autumn!

  20. Maybe it’s my complete greenness as a skier (I’m not a snow bunny by any stretch of the imagination), but when I read that Lutsen Mountains has 95 ski runs, I was a little shocked. That sounds like a lot! What an awesome resort too.

    1. Thank you! Yes, 95 runs on four mountains is a lot – making Lutsen Mountains the largest ski resort in the Midwest. We love visiting the North Shore in Minnesota in every season.

  21. All your winter wonderland posts really make me want to do a winter vacation. I am admittedly a tropical gal, but all your suggestions make winter seem doable, even for me 🤣

    1. Thank you so much! I’m usually in Mexico in the winter, but with the pandemic I learned how to embrace winter the last two seasons. And I’ve gotta admit I had a lot of fun. The North Shore in Minnesota is a great destination for a winter vacation, spring waterfall tour, summer retreat and fall foliage run. We especially love Lutsen Mountains.

  22. Ooo, this looks so beautiful! I don’t ski, but have been trying to get back into learning how to snowboard. I’d love to hike there too!

    1. Thank you so much! We’re more about hiking these days, but Lutsen Mountains is great for snowboarding if you don’t ski. And great hiking trails! One of our favorite places on the North Shore of Minnesota.

  23. well it’s obvious to me that I need to leave East Coast skiing behind and try out the Midwest! Probably won’t make it this ski season but hopefully next.

    1. Awesome! I hope you get the opportunity! Lutsen Mountains is the largest ski resort in the midwest – and offers so many great activities. Also recommend staying at Caribou Highlands Lodge – only 1/4-mile from the Lutsen Mountains ski resort and they offer ski-in-ski-out units.

  24. There certainly is a lot to see and do in Lutsen Mountains. Great that you added things for the non-skier to do. The rest of the family can hit the slopes. I usually just hike

    1. Thank you! We’re more of hikers than skiers so Lutsen Mountains is a great destination in every season for everyone. One of my favorite places on the North Shore in Minnesota.

    1. Thank you so much! This view of Poplar River Falls on Lutsen Mountains is so stunning – and so accessible with a bridge overlook – within walking distance of where we stayed at Caribou Highlands Lodge.

    1. Lutsen Mountains is a great ski resort, but they also cater to non-skiers in all seasons. One of my favorite places on the North Shore in Minnesota.

  25. I’ve never heard of Lutsens Mountains but it looks so beautiful and a fun getaway! I’d love to visit in the fall to take the gondola and do some hiking. The fall foliage looks stunning!

    1. Thank you! We love Lutsen Mountains – it’s a great place for hiking and the Summit Express Gondola offers stunning views of the north shore in Minnesota.

  26. I love when places like Lutsen Mountains Ski Resort are open in both the summer and in ski season. And a view up the mountain in the Fall looks lovely. You now I would be visiting when I could catch a view of the cascading waters. One to plan for any season.

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