The cross country ski pass you need to ski in the Twin Cities depends on the county where you want to ski, and sometimes the park itself.
There have been some major changes in the ski pass area the past couple years. I imagine the various counties have made these changes because it’s best for the county.
However, it’s made it a little more complicated (and more expensive) for cross country skiers who enjoy skiing all over the metro.
Most counties used to use the DNR’s Great Minnesota Ski Pass. Now, none of them do—unless it’s for one of the state parks.
Here’s the round-up of which ski pass you’ll need for each Twin Cities county (as of January 2023):
Starting the winter of 2022/23, Anoka County Parks no longer requires a ski pass to use their groomed trails. You will need a vehicle permit to ski at Rum River Central and Bunker Hills (if you park at the Ski/Campground Office or within the park). A Washington County permit is good here, too.
No vehicle permit is needed to ski Bunker Hills Golf Course (please park in one of the first couple of lots there at the Golf Course) or Chomonix Golf Course.
There are plenty of skiing opportunities in Carver County. Whether you need a pass depends on where you ski.
Neither Baylor or Lake Minnewashta Regional Parks require a ski pass.
Carver Park Reserve is part of the Three Rivers Park District, so you’ll need their All Parks Annual Ski Pass for $90 (2023 price). If you only plan to ski a handful of times, you can go with their daily pass for $7.
The Minnesota Arboretum grooms their own ski trails. Your $15 entrance fee to the Arb gives you access to them.
Dakota County has its own ski pass for use on the groomed ski trails in its parks. They do not require a vehicle permit to enter their parks.
The ski trails in Hennepin County are overseen by two different entities: Three Rivers Park District and the Loppet Foundation. You don’t need a vehicle permit to get into any of these parks.
Three Rivers Park District has their All Parks Annual Ski Pass for $90/season or $7/$10 daily. This includes the following trail systems:
- Baker Park Reserve
- Eagle Lake Regional Park
- Elm Creek Park Reserve (artificial snow, too)
- French Regional Park
- Hyland Lake Park Reserve (artificial snow, too)
For info on the various Loppet Ski Passes, click here. Prices vary depending on age of skier and where you plan to ski. You’ll need the Loppet Ski Pass on these trail systems:
- Chain of Lakes Regional Park
- Columbia Golf Course
- Hiawatha Golf Course
- Theodore Wirth Regional Park
Starting the winter of 2022/23, Ramsey County has its own ski pass for use on the groomed trail systems of both the regional parks and the city parks in Saint Paul (which used to be free).
Prices vary depending on where you plan to ski and number of pass holders in your household (a very nice feature). Daily passes are also available. No vehicle permits required.
Fort Snelling State Park uses the DNR’s Great Minnesota Ski Pass, as it’s part of the state park system. Of course, this pass is good for all Minnesota state parks. It’s $25 for an annual pass or $10 daily. You’ll also need a state park vehicle permit.
In Scott County, Cleary Lake and Murphy-Hanrehan are part of the Three Rivers Park District. You’ll need either their All Parks Annual Ski Pass ($90) or a daily pass ($7). No vehicle permit is needed.
Washington County’s regional parks require the Washington County Ski Pass (click here and then click on the “Park Information” button). You can buy yours at any park office. You’ll need one of these for the following parks:
- Big Marine Park Reserve
- Cottage Grove Ravine Regional Park
- Lake Elmo Park Reserve
- Pine Point Regional Park
- St. Croix Bluffs Regional Park
These parks also require a vehicle permit (same link as for the ski pass above). If you have an Anoka County park permit, it’s also good in these Washington County parks.
Washington County also hosts two state parks, Afton and William O’Brien. You’ll need the DNR’s Great Minnesota Ski Pass for those trails. You’ll need a state park vehicle permit, too.
I hope this helps clear up some confusion about ski passes in the Twin Cities metro area.
Enjoy the snow and the ski trails!
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