Lakeland Locals Learn to Ski for Free

Tired of face-plants, wet gloves, and soggy attitudes about cross-country skiing? Minocqua Winter Park & Nordic Center invites local residents to discover the fun and beauty of striding gliding with its Lakeland Locals Learn to Ski for Free program.

Scope, Eligibility, & Funding

Cross-country skiing is a lifetime sport—if you start off on the right ski boot. Recognizing that 90% of people who stick with the sport had quality instruction, Minocqua Winter Park has partnered with its Ski Shop & Ski School to offer a program to (re)introduce community members to Nordic skiing.

All residents of Oneida, Vilas, Price, and Iron Counties are eligible to enroll. Children must be at least 8 years-old, and children 8-12 years-old must be accompanied by an adult.

Lakeland Locals Learn to Ski for Free is funded by generous donations, grants, and fundraising efforts. Primary contributors include the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation and participants in events at Minocqua Winter Park, including ski and snowshoe races and Inga Lami of the Northwoods women’s ski and snowshoe gathering.


Locals Learn to Ski for Free consists of a free Minocqua Winter Park ski trail pass, free ski equipment rental from the MWP Ski Shop & Ski School, and a 1-hour lesson from a professional instructor. Our friends, board members, and other experienced skiers are often available after the ski lesson to volunteer their time to lead new skiers on short, guided tours of Winter Park’s ski trails. When you return your ski equipment at the end of the day, you will receive a coupon good for 50% OFF your next Winter Park ski trail day pass and 50% OFF your next equipment rental from the MWP Ski Shop.

One short lesson can turn your cross-country skiing experiences from cold, wet, frustrating fits into amazing, fun adventures. Over the past three winters, nearly all of the program’s 200+ participants improved their technique and attitude towards skiing.


Conditions permitting, sessions occur on Sunday afternoons, starting with the second Sunday in January. Each class will be limited to 10 skiers, and 1-4 classes will be held each session. Interested participants must call the Winter Park chalet at (715) 356-3309 to reserve a space in the program.

Ski classes will last from 1 p.m. – 2 p.m., and we recommend that students arrive in the chalet no later than 12:30 p.m. on the day of their session to allow ample time for equipment set-up.


To get to Minocqua Winter Park from US Hwy 51, turn onto Wisconsin Hwy 70 West and travel 6.8 miles. Then turn left onto Squirrel Lake Road and go 4.5 miles south to Scotchman Lake Road, and follow the signs into the park via Squirrel Hill Road. More detailed directions are available on this page.

What to Wear

Don’t sweat your clothing decisions too much. For centuries, people have been skiing in wool and leather garments. In fact, up until about 30 years ago, the standard attire was striped wool socks, plaid knickers, and Nordic wool sweaters! New fabrics and smart layering allow people to stay warm and dry while shedding pounds of lambswool.

The simple rules of dressing for aerobic winter activity are:

  • Dress in layers. Start with a good base layer. Lightweight, fast-drying “wicking layers” of silk or polypropylene are best suited to pull moisture from your skin. Rapid heat loss occurs when you have water or wet fabrics on your skin, which can be desirable on a hot summer day but dangerous in the winter. Wool is a great material because it retains some warmth even when wet, making it acceptable for a base layer or an insulating layer. Lightweight to mid-weight “insulating layers” of micro fleece, corduroy, or even thin snow pants are good. Wind- and water-resistant “shell layers” (jackets and pants) protect you from significant losses in body heat due to evaporation and convection. Remember: you can always unzip, unbutton, or shed layers if you start to overheat.
  • Dress for body movement. Cross-country skiing requires some flexibility and freedom, so clothing should be trim and stretchy, or at least loose-fitting. Rigid, restrictive clothing like denim jeans or heavy nylon or canvas insulated bibs are discouraged.
  • Protect your skin and extremities. A light- or mid-weight pair of wool or synthetic socks, light- or mid-weight gloves, and a light hat will provide sufficient warmth and protection. Sunglasses and lip balm are good to have, too. Face masks and heavy jackets are handy when skiing in very cold and and very windy weather, but that’s also not a fun time to learn to ski!
  • Bring extras. Any time you’re learning a new skill on snow, expect to spend some time on the ground. (One of your first lessons will be how to fall down correctly!) Gloves and mittens get wet quickly, and you’ll definitely appreciate having a dry pair readily available—if only for the drive home. You may store your gear in a pack on a rack inside our chalet.

Registration & Questions

Please contact Minocqua Winter Park & Nordic Center to reserve a spot in the next available session of Lakeland Locals Learn to Ski for Free or to request more information about this program or cross-country skiing in general.

We’ll ski ya soon!

Phone: 715-356-3309