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Lodge unveiled at Detroit Mountain

Donors look over appetizers in the food court during last Friday's open house. DL NEWSPAPERS/Brian Basham

By Vicki Gerdes / DL NMewspapers

With 15 downhill ski runs, Nordic ski trails between 5-7 kilometers, a terrain park and tubing hill, not to mention a skills park and trails for mountain biking in the summer, the Detroit Mountain Recreation Area is certain to live up to its billing as “Minnesota’s newest playground.”

Detroit Mountain is set to officially open for business once the snow hits the ground, but area residents can get a glimpse of all it has to offer at an open house set for this Saturday, Aug. 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The event is free and open to the public. Though the lifts are not yet in operation, area residents are invited to “come on in and tour the lodge, see the property, maybe buy a shirt,” said DRMA General Manager Jeff Staley, with a smile.

What visitors will find once they enter the main lodge is a small retail shop carrying DRMA’s “logo wear” (t-shirts, hoodies, etc.) and many other winter sports essentials such as sunscreen, gloves, hand warmers and helmets.

“We have a full-service café that emphasizes healthy fare such as wraps, salads and soups, along with a few kids’ favorites such as pizza and nachos,” said Shelly Stowman, director of marketing, events and snow sports for DMRA. “We also have a bar offering beer and wine.”

The entire lodge can be rented out for special events during the spring, summer and fall, she continued, adding, “We’ve already booked some weddings and reunions.”

There are also several cubby holes for stowing hats, gloves, etc., near the main entrance, as well as lockers for stowing valuable items. The cubbyholes are available free of charge, while the lockers are available for a small rental fee.

But that’s not the only thing available for rent. Downhill skiers and snowboarders will also be able to lease out equipment for a day on the slopes.

“Our rental shop will feature Head skis and Burton snowboards,” said Tony Schmitz, DMRA’s rental manager and trails boss.

Helmets will be offered free of charge with every equipment rental, “but they can also be rented separately,” he added.

There’s also a guest services area, where lift tickets are already on sale, Stowman said — in fact, she added, “We have special pricing from now through Sept. 30.”

And that’s just what’s available inside the lodge. Here’s a brief summary of some of the amenities Detroit Mountain will offer for year-round outdoor sports enthusiasts:

Scheels Terrain Park

The Scheels Terrain Park is an area of Detroit Mountain that allows skiers and snowboarders the chance to perform tricks, jumps, and other skills. Similar to skate board parks, the area will have a variety of features such as rails and pipes, jib boxes, table tops and other specially-designed jumps.

A high speed tow rope — “12 feet per second,” Schmitz says — will pull skiers and boarders up the hill for as many trips down as they want.

“Some people might hit this for an hour or more just to perfect one technique,” Schmitz added.

Stowman noted that the various features can also be rotated from one part of the terrain park to another, “just for fun.”

And of course, there will also be three chair lifts in operation, she said.

Burton Learn to Ride Center

“Detroit Mountain will be an official Burton Learn to Ride Center,” Schmitz said.

Burton, the premier snowboard manufacturing company, became the only snowboard company in the industry to focus on snowboard instruction methods and beginner-specific equipment in 1998.

Now, in 2014, Burton offers a full range of snowboarding programs and Learn To Ride Centers at resorts worldwide, making learning to snowboard as fun and easy as possible.

Snowsports Instruction

Detroit Mountain will offer all levels of skiing and snowboarding lessons. An emphasis is being placed on new industry-wide teaching methods, designed to create a fun and safe experience when first learning the sport.

“Gone are the days of putting a first timer on skis or boards and letting them hit the slopes,” Stowman said. “We want to decrease the fear factor and increase the fun factor.”

Detroit Mountain’s beginner hill is being shaped with fun and learning at the forefront, she added.  A specific portion of the beginner hill will be for first time skiers and boarders, with a gentle grade serviced by a “magic carpet.”

Adjacent to this area designed for “never-tried-before” downhill skiers is a longer and steeper slope to help these beginners advance before trying the primary slopes.

Snow tubing hill

Located on the west side of Detroit Mountain is a multi-lane tubing hill with a warming hut at the base. This hill will also be serviced by a magic carpet for a fun and easy way to get tubes to the top. 

Mountain Biking

Contour Flow Trail: Approximately five miles in length, this natural surface trail consists of berms, rollers and constant undulation to create a “roller coaster-like” experience,” Stowman said.

Gravity Fed Flow Trail: This trail will drop down the east side of the mountain. It will be a very gradual downhill trail that contours across the mountain taking advantage of the wooded areas. The ski lift will be utilized to take bikes and riders to the top to enjoy the view before riding down.

Skills Course: This course is a playground-like facility comprised of a variety of elevated features, such as ladder bridges, designed to teach balance and technical handling skills.

“All of these (mountain biking) trails will be ready to ride when the snow melts in 2015!” Stowman said. Pricing for use of the bike trails has not yet been determined, she added.

Ski and snowboarding instructors, guest services and rental shop personnel, as well as outdoor maintenance crew staffing are also unknown at this time.

“We will start hiring at the end of September,” Staley said.

Ski Patrol members are already in training, however, Stowman said, adding, “They’re all volunteers.”

For more information on the amenities available at Detroit Mountain, including lift ticket prices, lodge rental rates and more, visit the website at, or call 218-844-SNOW.

Vicki Gerdes

Staff writer at Detroit Lakes Newspapers for the past 16 years, currently editor of the entertainment and community pages as well as covering city council and the Lake Park-Audubon School Board. Living in DL with my cat, Smokey.

(218) 844-1454