PR: Owner of Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak to Purchase Big Snow Resort, Mich.

Lutsen Mountains in MN in purchase agreement to buy Big Snow in Michigan

Owner of Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak to Purchase Big Snow Resort, Mich.

Charles Skinner agrees to acquire the largest ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

For Immediate Release

Lutsen Mountains in MN in purchase agreement to buy Big Snow in Michigan

Lutsen Mountains in MN in purchase agreement to buy Big Snow in Michigan

Lutsen, MN, and Wausau, WI (May 25, 2022– Charles Skinner, the owner of Minnesota’s Lutsen Mountains Ski Area and Wisconsin’s Granite Peak Ski Area, has a definitive purchase agreement to acquire Big Snow Resort, which consists of Indianhead and Blackjack ski areas, from Art Dumke. Skinner’s family has owned and operated vacation destination ski areas catering to Midwest families for 60 years.

All the resorts in the Skinner ownership portfolio are accessible to Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Minneapolis/St. Paul markets, offering customers outstanding affordability and the luxury of travel flexibility.

Big Snow Resort in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, known as “Big Snow Country,” so named thanks to the lake effect snowfall of Lake Superior, delivering 200-inch averages annually. Indianhead was the first ski resort built in this region of Michigan, while Blackjack is the most recent ski area built in 1977.

“We are thrilled that these two historical, Upper Michigan ski areas, known for their prodigious powder snow, will be joining our legendary family of resorts in Minnesota and Wisconsin,” stated Charles Skinner. “The current owner and his excellent staff have done a terrific job honoring the legacy of Indianhead and Blackjack and combining them into the largest ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. We intend to build upon this work by investing in new lifts, snowmaking and base area infrastructure at Big Snow soon.”

Big Snow will join the tradition of its sister resorts providing Midwest families with diverse and high-quality alpine ski vacations in some of the most picturesque areas in the Midwest.

“I would first like to say how grateful we are to the many awesome employees, skiers, and community members who we’ve had the privilege of serving and working with the past many years,” stated Art Dumke, owner of Big Snow Resorts. “I’m also pleased that the new ownership has so much expertise in operating premium Midwest ski areas and is vested in improving the ski area for skiers, employees, and the community.”

“We’re committed to providing Midwest families with great destinations close to home that offer the best snow, great customer service, and fast, modern ski lifts,” added Charlotte Skinner, VP of Finance and Resource Management. “We are planning major investments at Big Snow that we know everyone will be very excited about when details are announced later this summer.”

The Skinner Family plans to retain all Big Snow Resort’s current employees. “Art has told us great things about the current staff, and we look forward to working with the entire team on this exciting new chapter for this legendary resort,” explained Charlotte Skinner.  “The current management team will enjoy support from our management teams at Lutsen and Granite Peak, and our goal is always to be the best employer in the region.”

“This transaction will strengthen all three areas. We will continue our pace of investments at both Lutsen and Granite Peak,” emphasized Charles Skinner.  “At Lutsen, we are pleased to announce that we will be installing a new, high-speed, 6-place chairlift from Leitner Poma on Eagle Mountain next summer to replace the ‘Bridge Lift.’ This summer, major investments are also taking place in snowmaking and a host of building improvements at both Lutsen and Granite Peak.”

The transaction includes all of the assets of Big Snow Resort, including over 1,000 acres of private land. The closing, subject to financing and due diligence completion, is expected to occur by the end of July.

For Media Inquiries:  

Jim Vick,
General Manager
Lutsen Mountains
jim@lutsen.com

Gregory Fisher
General Manager
Granite Peak Ski Area
greg.fisher@skigranitepeak.com,

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About Lutsen Mountains. Lutsen Mountains was the first ski area in Minnesota (1948).  Lutsen Mountains is Minnesota’s largest ski area with its highest vertical (800’) and the most trails (95) spread over 1100 acres. Trails are served by eight lifts, including two high-speed lifts, and a 3rd high-speed lift will be installed next summer to replace the venerable Bridge Lift.  Straddling four peaks of the ancient Sawtooth Mountain range, the ski area boasts unique 180-degree blue water views of the World’s largest lake, Lake Superior.  Lutsen Mountains is the winter anchor of a 5,600-population economy, located in a county the size of a small state that is almost entirely dependent on tourism.  Lutsen Mountains has been family-owned and operated for 74 years and is today owned and operated by Charles Skinner and his daughter Charlotte.  Lutsen’s management team is led by 35-year Lutsen veteran, General Manager Jim Vick.

About Granite Peak. The ski area was the first ski area in Wisconsin (1937).  Granite Peak is Wisconsin’s largest ski area with its highest vertical (700’) and most trails (54), served by seven lifts, including three high-speed lifts.  Located in the Rib Mountain State Park, the ski area is the most popular winter recreational venue for Wausau residents and is the primary winter draw for Wausau’s tourism economy.  The Granite Peak team is led by 20-year ski area veteran General Manager Greg Fisher.

About the Skinner Family.  The Skinner Family began operating ski areas in 1962 when Charlie Skinner, Sr. founded Sugar Hills, in Grand Rapids, MN. Charlie purchased Lutsen Mountains in 1980 from founder George Nelson. Charles operated Lutsen with his brother-in-law Thomas Rider until his retirement in January when Charles took over sole ownership. Charles has been owner and president of Granite Peak since 2000. Our ski areas prioritize healthy and safe outdoor recreational experiences. Our mission also promotes our employees’ healthy and happy well-being and our diverse communities. We strive to offer the highest level of Midwest skiing to preserve the value of all of our constituencies.

Today, Lutsen and Granite Peak are owned and operated by Charles and his daughter Charlotte Skinner.

 

About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitorsFacebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com.

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PR: Grand Marais Welcomes Back Le Grand du Nord Gravel Cycling Classic

Le Grand Du Nord Jeremy Kershaw

Grand Marais Welcomes Back Le Grand du Nord Gravel Cycling Classic

Spectators can watch exciting race start and finish at Voyageur Brewing 

Cook County, Minn. – May 23, 2022 With views of Lake Superior and the Grand Marais Harbor in the background, 700 racers will roll out and cross the finish line at the Le Grand du Nord Gravel Cycling Classic on Memorial Day Weekend.

Le Grand Du Nord LogoRepresenting one of the most amazing gravel courses in the country, the Le Grand du Nord is returning for its seventh edition on Saturday, May 28 – this time providing an exciting spectating opportunity as the race’s centralized start and finish location will be across the street from Voyageur Brewing Company.

“There will be a festive atmosphere at our new start and finish location,” Le Grand du Nord organizer Jeremy Kershaw said. “We encourage folks to come check it out and cheer on the competitors.”

Le Grand du Nord includes three different length events:

  • 110-Mile Event (Waves begin at 8 a.m.)
  • 54-Mile Event (Waves begin at 9 a.m.)
  • 26-Mile Event (Waves begin at 10 .m.)

All three events will follow the shores of Lake Superior before climbing to their final destinations, with each offering a unique experience. The 110-mile course will climb more than 5,500 feet and the most remote feel. The 54-mile course also offers climbing and forested roads while the 26-mile “marathon” route is a great introduction to gravel cycling with a mix of paved and gravel roads.

“Le Grand du Nord is such a great piece of our biking culture in Cook County,” Visit Cook County Executive Director Linda Jurek said. “From our gravel roads to our world class Jackpot and Highclimber single-track courses, our reputation as a biking destination continues to grow.”

 About Visit Cook County 

Visit Cook County encompasses the northeastern Minnesota communities of Lutsen, Tofte, Schroeder, Grand Marais, the Gunflint Trail and Grand Portage, commonly referred to as “the Arrowhead” and the “North Shore of Lake Superior”.  Grand Marais, Minn., has earned several national accolades — most recently it was named USA Today’s Best Midwestern Small Town, Outside Magazine’s The 16 Best Places to Live in the U.S. 2016, and Budget Travel’s 2015 Coolest Small Town in America. Rekindle your sense of adventure by exploring the Superior National Forest or paddling through the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. Discover what makes the communities of Cook County, Minn. “Naturally Unforgettable.” Connect on social media using #donorthmn, Twitter @CookCoVisitors, Facebook, or Instagram @donorthmn. Learn more at www.visitcookcounty.com

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PR: Superior National Forest Update: 2022 Fishing Opener & fee campgrounds, flooding, ice-covered lakes, and snowy roads

Forest Service News Release

Media contact: Joanna Gilkeson (218) 349-5134, joanna.gilkeson@usda.gov

Know before you go: 2022 Fishing Opener  

Status of fee campgrounds, flooding, ice-covered lakes, and snowy roads variable across the forest 

Duluth, Minnesota, May 12, 2022—Minnesota’s fishing opener is almost here and officials on the Superior National Forest would like to remind anglers and other visitors to recreate responsibly and safely, and plan ahead before traveling to the Forest for the weekend.  It is especially important this year as winter conditions linger, especially in the northeastern portion of the Forest.  Some Forest roads, particularly on Gunflint and Tofte Ranger Districts are covered in mud, slush and snow and may prevent travel to certain areas. Flooding near lakes, rivers and of roads is a concern, especially on the Kawishiwi, Lacroix and Laurentian districts. 

Fall Lake Campground flooded as of May 12, 2022. USDA Forest Service photo

Check conditions!:  While fishing opener is here, summer temperatures and clear roads are not. Lakes in northern Minnesota remain cold through spring and can be dangerous, and even lethal if exposed for several minutes. Many of our lakes are still partially or completely frozen; some are open on the edges only. Be careful that you do not get stuck on a lake by the wind blowing ice around and blocking you in bays and other areas. Underwater ice chunks in lakes are another hazard for boaters this year,  accidents have already occurred. Learn more cold water safety on the Minnesota DNR website

If you’re interested in particular lakes or roads, please call ahead to the local District Ranger office to inquire about status. Outfitters and guides are also great resources for local conditions. 

Find a fishing spot: The Forest boasts hundreds of lakes and 77 boat accesses. Motorized and non-motorized boating opportunities are available. As a rule, areas listed under motorized boating are lakes or campgrounds with a drive down boat ramp for launching a trailered boat. McDougal boat ramp is open (however the campground is not). These lakes can also be accessed by non-motorized boats; more information can be found on our website, water activities. For general fishing outlooks by region see the Minnesota DNR fishing outlook 2022 (PDF)

Campgrounds:  Campgrounds on the Kawishiwi, LaCroix and Laurentian Districts are open. Most campgrounds on the Tofte and Gunflint Districts are closed until May 17, with the following exceptions:

  • Now open – Iron Lake Campground
  • Now open – Trails End Campground is open except for sites 29, 30, 31, 32, 33.  Seagull Lake Nature Trail and the Seagull Lake Canoe Launch are also closed. Boaters/ canoers should plan to put in at Blankenburg Landing
  • Open May 13 – Sawbill Lake, Crescent Lake and Temperance River campgrounds 
  • Open May 14 – Flour Lake Campground 

 

Note that water systems in many campgrounds have not been turned on yet. Drinking water will be available later next week. Some outhouses and garbage bins are not available. Please call a Forest district office before your trip for status updates on our campgrounds.

    • Fee campgrounds offer some first come, first served sites and some reservable campsites. Campsites can be reserved at recreation.govFor a list of amenities at each of these campgrounds, visit our  camping recreation guide (PDF).
    • Rustic campgrounds are free of charge and are first come, first served. They have outhouses, tables and fire rings but no drinking water. Outhouses are open but bring your own toilet paper.
    • Backcountry sites are free of charge and offer a more remote experience while still providing a fire grate and wilderness latrine.  
    • Rustic campgrounds and backcountry sites do not have a garbage service. Please pack your garbage out, and do not bury it or throw it in restrooms/latrines. 

Although rustic and backcountry campgrounds are open, they may not be accessible due to road conditions and snow or passable by low clearance vehicles. Alternative  campgrounds can be found on state forestsstate parks and county land. 

Be bear aware: Bears are out of hibernation and in search of food.  A fed bear is a dead bear! Whether you are on the Forest or in the Wilderness, take all precautions to discourage bears from visiting your site and keep your campsite clean. Here are some bear aware best practices: 

    • Dispose of fish remains by traveling at least 200 feet away from campsites, trails, portages and shorelines and pack out live bait.  
    • Never eat or store food in your tent.  
    • Be prepared to securely store your food, toiletries and trash, or anything with a strong or sweet odor in a bear-resistant container, your vehicle or by hanging your food pack.  

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness permit holders: 

Many lakes remain partially or fully covered in ice and slush. Some BWCAW campgrounds are open but be aware that some campgrounds are still closed, mostly on the east side of the Forest, due to snow and roads being inaccessible due to snow, flooding and mud. BWCAW interior lakes to the north are expected to have ice. Call for conditions before setting out.

Permit holders must pick up permits from the issue station selected when the permit was reserved. Group leaders or alternates must pick up the permit on the day of the trip or one day prior. 

Gunflint, Tofte, Kawishiwi and LaCroix Ranger District offices are open seven days a week for BWCAW permit issuance and in-person Leave No Trace and Tread Lightly education. The Laurentian Ranger District and the Supervisor’s Office are operating Monday through Friday only. Please check the Forest website for office hours.

Permit holders need to watch parts 1 and 2 of the BWCAW Leave No Trace video series prior to departing for their trip. To receive credit for watching the videos, click the links in the emails sent to the permit holder to access the videos online (use Chrome to avoid errors). If you have not reviewed parts 1 and 2 before arriving at your issue station, you will need to watch the complete BWCAW Leave no Trace video series before receiving your permit. All permit holders are required to watch part 3 of the video series and review the BWCAW Regulations and Rules at their issue station prior to receiving their permit.

Thank you for doing your part to help keep the Forest and Wilderness safe, enjoyable, and pristine for all visitors.  

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USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender.

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Joanna Gilkeson (she/her)
Public Affairs Specialist
Forest Service

Superior National Forest
p: 218-349-5134
joanna.gilkeson@usda.gov
8901 Grand Avenue Place
Duluth, MN 55808
www.fs.fed.us
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