“Just getting out there and feeling free.” That’s the feeling winter-sport lovers like Elizabeth Moen, who works at Bottineau Winter Park, get when they hit the trails this time of year.
She said it’s the perfect place to learn to ski or snowboard as well as for those who are experienced on the slopes.
“We see people anywhere from way out of state, across the country, from Hawaii, you name it … to people just locally, here in Bottineau,” Moen said.
When she’s not on her skis, she’s inside at the full-service rental shop.
Last year she saw a record number of people come through there with about 300 on their busiest days and that, of course, doesn’t include the people at the park who bring their own equipment.
They’ve got something for everyone, including lessons for even the smallest of snow-lovers.
“We’ve seen even like, 1 to 2-year-old kids on skis,” Moen said. “So we have really, really small ones.”
Outside, the grounds crew makes about 90 percent of all the snow you see.
“A lot of this is just pure hard work by a lot of good guys wanting to make everybody have a good winter up here and have a good time,” Mountain Operation Supervisor Steve Lawson said.
“Not a whole lot of mountains in the state of North Dakota to begin with,” added Mark Bercier, “so it’s a pretty prime opportunity to come down.”
Lawson said they work on it all year but in the days leading up to the opening weekend, people like him spend about 80 hours a week making snow and making sure it’s safe.
Still, he says those hours are well-spent.
“That’s the part about this job I love the most, is everybody’s always in a good mood,” he said. “So when you’re creating this and putting it together, you’re looking forward to all the little children laughing and having a good time with their parents, their families, their grandparents. It’s such a good family park, it’s a fun place.”
Bottineau Winter Park is also home to Annie’s House, an adaptive recreation center helping people with disabilities enjoy the outdoors.
Its namesake is in honor of Ann Nicole Nelson, a Stanley native who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Annie’s House is adorned with each item on her bucket list.
So if you go to Bottineau Winter Park …
“The snow conditions are great, the chairlifts will be running, we’re fully staffed to help people out with whatever they want to enjoy.”
… you’ll be alongside a team of smiling faces.
“I love seeing people have fun out on the hill,” said Leland Moen. “It’s super fun to watch and be a part of.”
“[I like] making people happy, I guess,” Bercier said. I’m happy to come here and make people want to come back.”
Bottineau Winter Park is Somewhere You Should Know.
Starting this weekend, it’s a place you can go!
You can hit the hills this Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 5 each day and throughout the season, night skiing is also available during the week.