BOTTINEAU – A few miles north of here preparations are underway for the opening of the state’s premier winter playground. All that is needed is colder temperatures and a little more snow. After that, it’s all downhill.
Operators of the Bottineau Winter Park will open the popular facility as soon as possible. In fact, they’ve been working on it for several weeks. The combination of natural snow and flurries from snowmaking machines was showing great promise for a late November opening, but warming temperatures may push back progress.
“We were getting close, but it's too warm. We need 20 degrees or less to make snow and the wind has not been in our favor."
“We were getting close, but it's too warm. We need 20 degrees or less to make snow and the wind has not been in our favor,” said Elizabeth Moen, Bottineau Winter Park.
Moen explained that Winter Park staff have been making snow when conditions are favorable, usually during the overnight hours. Opening for Thanksgiving weekend seemed a possibility for a time, but warm temperatures worked against that timeline. Nevertheless, says Moen, opening day for the Winter Park probably isn’t too far away.
“Hopefully, we can make snow and get a few runs open and, eventually, get all the runs open,” remarked Moen. “We been getting things fixed up, seeing to our retail stock, and getting skis ready to go.”
When the Winter Park finally opens its slopes and turns on the lifts, a big turnout of winter sports enthusiasts is expected. Last year the usage of the park was higher than it had ever been.
“We had some record numbers, over 800 people some days,” stated Moen.
Skiing, snowboarding, and tubing are all popular activities at the park with a variety of challenging runs to choose from. All ages are represented too.
“I’ve taught lessons anywhere from three years old up to seniors. It's all ages, any age up here."Moen
“I’ve taught lessons anywhere from three years old up to seniors,” remarked Moen. “It’s all ages, any age up here.”
Newcomers, even those with some experience on the slopes, can take advantage of the staff of instructors at Winter Park. The facility has teachers that cover both skiing and snowboarding.
“Our instructors are for beginners that want to learn or a more advanced level for skiers. It’s really super easy to learn how to ski here,” said Moen. “I think little kids should really begin with an instructor on our kid’s slope to learn the proper way. With lessons, they’ll actually be skiing on the big hill by the end of the day.”
Lessons can be taught individually or as a group. Equipment can be leased from the park’s rental shop, giving a person the opportunity to use the gear for an entire season, even at locations other than Winter Park.
Once open, hours of operation will be noon-9 p.m. Fridays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. The park is also considering being open some Thursdays from 4-9 p.m.
The location of Winter Park works in its favor for winter enthusiasts with temperatures generally several degrees cooler than elsewhere in the state. That makes it better for both snow making and snowfall.
“There’s no such thing as too much snow. Not up here." Moen
“There’s no such thing as too much snow. Not up here,” laughed Moen. “As long as we can keep the roads open, we are good to go.”