First opened in 1980 by three local Anderson Brothers on Tower Hill, well over one million visitors have now enjoyed winter snow sports here. The ski area has been embraced by many local communities in the area and is one of the most popular family outings during the long Minnesota winter. Andes is open Thursday through Sunday and on holiday Mondays only for general skiing but will make arrangements to open for school and church groups other days of the week.
Where Exactly Is Andes Tower Hills?
The mailing address says Kensington, Minnesota, but Andes Tower Hills Ski Area has a rural location in the middle of farm and lake country 10 miles from the town of 292 residents. For a better perspective, the “hill” is 12 miles west of the County Rd. 27 exit from I-94, which is the northernmost exit of two for Alexandria, a community of 14,000 mostly popular as a summer vacation area. From either direction head west on MN 27 for seven miles, right on CR 7 and follow the signs for four miles to Andes.
Andes Tower Hills Stats
- 15 runs: 4 easy (includes a bunny hill), 5 more difficult and 6 most difficult
- Lifts: 1 quad chairlift, 2 triple chairlifts, 2 Magic Carpet lifts and 1 high-speed tow rope
What’s the 100-Mile Club All About?
For travelers coming here from at least 100 miles away, Andes offers an additional 25 percent discount off of published Gold Pass full season lift ticket prices. Given its middle of nowhere location, the 100-Mile Club is great news for skiers coming from the Twin Cities, Fargo and beyond.
Does Andes Tower Hills Offer a Season Pass?
Yes, there is a season pass offered. There are several different types of passes depending whether you are skiing/snowboarding, tubing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, day-or-night skiing, and so on. There are also season passes for rental equipment available.
Additionally, the purchaser of a season pass at Andes will receive a 50% discount on lift tickets at the following Upper Midwest ski areas upon presentation of their Andes Tower Hills season pass:
- Mount Ski Gull, Nisswa, MN
- Detroit Mountain, Detroit Lake, MN
- Huff Hills Ski Area, Mandan, ND
- Great Bear Ski Valley, Sioux Falls, SD
- Mont du Lac, Superior, WI
What Hotels and Restaurants Are Near Andes Tower Hills?
Nearby Alexandria, Minnesota has several comfortable hotels all of which are just off of the I-94 exit for MN-29, just south of the exit for Andes Tower Hills Ski Area.
- Hampton Inn
- Holiday Inn
- Fairfield Inn
- Quality Inn
Not surprisingly, the ‘hotel zone’ just off I-94 is home to a nice collection of dining spots including fast food with drive-thru, casual sit-down places, and some nice evening options with full bar.
Should I Pack a Lunch?
We’re glad you asked that question. There is a snack bar at Andes Tower that serves up very basic foods such as pizza, hot dogs and soup, but there really isn’t much more to tempt your palate. Numerous online comments indicated that they learned early-on to pack some food, since what the ski area offered wasn’t very fulfilling. So, the word to the wise is to fill you belly before coming to the ski area, do bring some snacks along. Be prepared to head into Alex or home if you want something more substantial afterwards.
When’s the Best Time to Ski at Andes Tower Hills?
Since Andes is typically only open from Thursday through Sunday with the occasional Monday holiday date, we can’t advise you to plan midweek skiing to avoid the crowds. While Andes Tower Hills is a popular place, it doesn’t tend to get too crowded with the exception of holiday weekends. Saturdays are more crowded than Sunday, and evening are less crowded than during daylight hours.
Is Rental Equipment Available, and How About Lessons?
Andes Tower Hills Ski Area offers complete rental packages including skis, poles, boots and bindings for downhill and cross-country skiing, as well as snowboard packages. Helmets are available, too, for an additional charge and are highly recommended. Snowshoes are also available for rental at the Chalet.
Private ski and snowboard lessons are available and should be reserved ahead of time.
Is Andes a Good Place for Terrain Park Enthusiasts?
Absolutely. The terrain park is served by an exclusive tow rope and offers challenges along both a more difficult, and most difficult downhill run.
Prefer to Cross-Country Ski or Snowshoe?
If you answered in the affirmative, then Andes Tower Hills Ski Area is the place for you. The Anderson Brothers didn’t forget about cross-country skiers or snowshoe enthusiasts. In fact, they offer several trails of varying difficulty with one that lit at night for a fun experience.
Much like the downhill runs, cross-country trails are labeled easiest, more and most difficult. There’s a warming hut along the way, too. All trails are fully groomed for classical or skate styles, and range in length from 1.6k to 8k for the more challenging ones. Two shorter beginner trails are .50k and .75k long so newcomers can learn without the pressure of having to travel a long way.
Tell Me About the Tubing Hill at Andes
Tubing here is very popular, and a whole lot of fun. Tubes are provided and there are height limitations, so be sure to check into this for any changes before heading to the hill. Neon tubing nights are also offered on select dates, with the ski hill and tubes lighting up like you’ve never seen before. Bring the family and you’ll have hours of fun.
Does Andes Tower Hills Make Snow?
Yes, snow-making equipment gets all fired up at Andes. The Andes Tower Hills has the capability to blow snow over the ski and tubing hills, so that even if there’s a shortage of natural snow, you can plan your visit without concern.
Some Closing Thoughts
If you’re a wannabee skier or boarder, this is a great place for you to get started. Very popular in the immediate area, especially with families, schools and church groups, Andes is sure to be a fun experience that you’ll return to over and over again.