As long as winter is here anyway, might as well enjoy it.

Detroit Mountain Recreation Area is making that easier to do by opening a week earlier than normal this year.

Detroit Mountain has always opened the Friday after Thanksgiving, an event it calls White Friday. But with this blessedly cold weather, workers at the Mountain have cranked up their 19 portable snow guns and have been piling up the white stuff for a bonus weekend Nov. 23-24.

“We are excited to kick-off our 2019-2020 winter season,” said Jeff Staley, Detroit Mountain's general manager. “The past two winters have been the longest in Detroit Mountain history, with 83 operational days in 2017-2018 and 81 days in 2018-1019 and we are hopeful to continue that streak.”

Detroit Mountain staff began snow-making on the last week of October, since conditions were cold enough to maintain the snow, said Brian Faris, guest experience and events manager. Natural snowfall has freshened everything up recently, as well.

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The Mountain will open for skiing and snowboarding on Saturday and Sunday (Nov. 23-24) from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Scheels Railyard will be ready for riders with a variety of terrain park features. “A good portion of the hill will be ready for that weekend,” Faris said.

The Jump Park isn’t quite ready but is expected to open in early December, and the Landslide Tubing Park will open the following weekend for White Friday, he added.

West run on Detroit Mountain is starting to shape up, with the help of a Snowcat operator pushing around the snow. (Nathan Bowe/Tribune)
West run on Detroit Mountain is starting to shape up, with the help of a Snowcat operator pushing around the snow. (Nathan Bowe/Tribune)

Seasoned staff, more snow-making capacity

There’ll be a lot of familiar faces on staff this year, Faris said.

“We have the highest retention rate for staff that we had since we opened,” he said. “But we’re always looking for friendly faces,” and open positions include lift operators, cafe workers and snowboard instructors.

Staff has been taking advantage of ideal snow-making conditions, and an additional snow-making pump installed this fall has increased capacity at the mountain.

When all 19 of the TechnoAlpin snow guns are going, they can turn 1,600 gallons of water into snow every minute, he said. “Last year we put in a new well and this year a new pump,” that can push 2,200 gallons per minute into the storage lagoon, he added. From there it is pumped into a water distribution system that allows the snow guns to tap into spigots across the facility. “Over the course of a season, we turn 25 to 26 million gallons of water to snow,” he said.

Snow guns were blasting away recently at Detroit Mountain. (Submitted photo)
Snow guns were blasting away recently at Detroit Mountain. (Submitted photo)

Help for local nonprofits

This season, Detroit Mountain also has plans to give back to the community, starting Nov. 30 with the Hunger's Heroes Food Drive to support the Becker County Food Pantry.

Donations will be collected at the Tubing Park, and for bringing a donation that day, that person will receive two hours of tubing for $10.

Cash donations will be accepted for the charities, and for Detroit Mountain's Ski Angel Program, which provides free or significantly discounted lift tickets, rentals, and on-snow instructions to those in need.

“We are grateful to have the opportunity to give back to our community,” Staley said. "We have some amazing organizations in the area, and we would like to show appreciation towards each of their causes. All the while, spreading holiday cheer."

The Gift of Giving campaign will also include:

  • the Santa Paws Pet Drive on Dec. 1 for the Marshmallow Foundation;
  • the Play Your Part Toy Drive on Dec. 7 will support the supply stock at the Boys and Girls Club of Detroit Lakes;
  • and the Warm our Hearts Warm Clothes Drive on Dec. 8 benefits the Lakes Crisis and Resource Center.

Detroit Mountain regular hours

Detroit Mountain’s regular season hours are Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Mondays from 4 to 9 p.m.; Tuesdays and Wednesdays, closed; and Thursdays and Fridays noon to 9 p.m.

The Tubing Park hours are Fridays from 5 to 9 p.m.; Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m.; and Sundays from noon to 7 p.m.

For the holiday break, Detroit Mountain will be open for 17 operational days from Dec. 19 through Jan 6, and closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.