North Dakota Ski Area Gets New Life
North Dakota has only three operating ski areas and all are located more in the center of the state and not along the more populated eastern border with Minnesota. Bottineau Winter Park is located along the Canadian border and Huff Hills Ski Area is near Mandan along the western slope of the Missouri River. Frostfire is located north of Fargo on the Canadian border. Fort Ransom's Bear Den Mountain, located south of Fargo, had closed several years ago.
When it appeared last fall that the shuttered Bear's Den ski area that came with 30 acres and two large buildings for a day lodge and maintenance storage, would be sold for development, a couple of longtime residents of the Sheyenne River Valley where the ski area is located stepped up to buy it. They want to return the property to a ski area, according to a story in the Grand Forks Herald.
Bob Billing, Mitch Hoenhause and their wives Kara and Heidi are the new owners. Both Bob and Mitch learned to ski there as young boys, and their children also learned the sport there as well. They said that they couldn't bear the thought of it going away and becoming something else.
Both owners have other businesses and said it will take some time to complete necessary improvements, but they have already started working on the buildings and hope to open tubing runs next month for area residents. When the ski area does open it will likely be weekends this season. Skiing and snowboarding are at least a season away.
They plan to rename the ski area Thrill Hills and already have a Facebook page under that name. It was the original name for the ski area when it was first proposed in the mid-1960s. It has a vertical drop near 300 feet, nine runs, and a terrain park, which were serviced by a chairlift, T-bar and surface tow.