Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort

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Olga Kopp, Art & Community Writer

Although the winter break is over, the winter season has just begun, and it is important to enjoy this season as much as we can.

 

Fortunately, we know how to make this season more enjoyable: go to the ski resort!

 

Not many of you know that North Dakota has the Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort in Walhalla, about a two-hour drive from Grand Forks. People travel to Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort from different states. They enjoy the natural beauty of this wonderful resort which spread out along the Pembina River, just along the breathtaking panorama of Pembina River Gorge. Since this resort location is closer to Canadian border, many people from Canada come to enjoy the view and winter activities. 

 

A couple from Winnipeg, Jeff and Chantelle Reznik shared their experience with the resort. 

 

“We used to live in Calgary, so I have never been snowboarding before then. It is almost like seven years ago now. Since we were back to Winnipeg, not much snowboarding has been going on. It is pretty flat, so it is nice to get out to places like this,” Jeff Resnik said. “Ski resorts that are nearby Winnipeg are smaller than Frost Fire ski resort. We’d rather take a drive and come here to enjoy awesome view and higher mountains. It is great here: snow is great, new chairlift is great. We are having lots of fun.” 

 

Chantell Reznik had visited Frost Fire Park before and although she doesn’t remember a ton, she does recognize that there have been changes, and they were for the better.

 

“I have been here ten years ago. I do not remember the details, but I can see the difference. Frost Fire did a great job on their updates. They used to have cold chairlifts without any foam seats. Now is way better. It is nice when you do not have to worry about freezing seats anymore,” Chantell Reznik said.

 

Although Chantell Reznik had visited in the past, it was Jeff Reznik’s first time at the resort. 

 

“This is my first time here and I like it here. There are many beautiful trails with trees, and the landscape is beautiful overall. We are planning to come back here every other weekend to snowboard and just hangout with friends. An hour and a half driving is pretty much nothing when we know that it will worth our time.” Jeff Reznik said.

Today, the Pembina Gorge Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit corporation that owns and operates Frost Fire Park. However, in the past, a local couple Richard and Judith Johnson were the owners of Frost Fire Park. 

Richard and Judith Johnson purchased the property previously known as “Frost Fire Ski Area & Amphitheater”  in 1976. They opened skiing the day after Christmas and added in the annual summer theatre musical in 1985.  For over 40 years, Dick and Judith provided outdoor recreation fun for thousands of people over many years. In March of 2016, Richard passed away.  Judith worked to keep Frost Fire going and formed a partnership with North Dakota Parks & Recreation. Meanwhile, a small group of people gathered to assist in finding a solution that would ensure Frost Fire activities and access to the Pembina Gorge recreation and hospitality would continue. This group formed the Pembina Gorge Foundation. The IRS granted 501c3 status (nonprofit) in January 2017. The mission of the Pembina Gorge Foundation is to preserve and enhance the experience of the Pembina Gorge while connecting people to positive, life changing experiences.  The Foundation develops and supports historical, cultural, education, natural, interpretive and recreational opportunities in the Gorge, according to frostfirepark.org website.

Currently Natalie Gebur is a general manager of Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort. She has been working at Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort for ten months. She oversees the entire operation: skiing, restaurants, mountain biking in the summer, theater, and amphitheater. 

“I enjoy working here. We are trying to make sure that people have a great time skiing and relaxing. Next year we are planning to update our snow making capacity to see if we can redo the lines on the hills. It would be nice to get new pumps so we can make more snow on the hills,” Gebur said. “We also would like to update our lights, so hopefully we can be open longer throughout the day.” 

Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort has wonderful workers who takes care of ski gear, ski trails, chairlift, warming house, restaurant, and people’s safety. There are around 12 workers in the winter season. It took them a month and a half to prepare the resort for this winter season, and they did a terrific job. 

It is definitely not easy to prepare for the season. Sometimes, there can be difficulties during the preparation. 

“This year, the weather was an issue when we were making snow. We had some warm spells when we could not make snow for 14 days in a row. We had some mechanical malfunctions, but overall, we are glad that it turned out to be a nice place for people to enjoy their spare time,” Gebur said. “It is nice seeing it back open because it has not been open for three years. It is nice seeing all those people who used to come here, coming back, and they are loving it, enjoying it. You hear all stories: ‘I used to ski here 20 years ago,’ or ‘I used to bring my kids here,’ or ‘I learned how to ski here.’ It is just so much fun seeing everyone coming back. We also have a huge Canadian crowd coming here every weekend. So, I am glad that people enjoy our ski resort.”

Steven Ouellette is a hospitality manager at Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort. He is the one who is planning events for a bar, ski season, and summer theater. He is also assist a general manager by planning the schedule for winter and summer seasons, making rapports, planning weddings, and managing social media advertisement for the resort. 

 

“I enjoy working here. There are many great volunteers and medical staff who are working here, and I enjoy working with all of them,” Ouellette said. “I like getting to visit with everyone, and getting to meet different people from all over the place, and hearing their stories about when they used to come here 10-15 years ago when this place was open to what it is now; how they grew up here and how it changed their lives. This is my favourite thing about this job.”

 

Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort is offering a variety of winter activities during the winter season. Many people from different generations are coming here to ski, snowboard, hike, and just have a good time at the resort. 

 

If you have never skied or snowboarded before, it is time for you to start! Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort has a beginner ski and snowboard hill, or “bunny hill.” A magic carpet will lift you up on the hill so you will not have to worry about crawling all the way up. It is a safe and easy place for beginner skiers and snowboarders to learn. If you would like to learn how to ski or snowboard, you can take classes with an instructor: $25 per 1 hour of training. Good news for active families – group lesson program coming soon!

 

You will definitely enjoy spending time at the resort if you like to ski and snowboard. There is a brand new ski lift with comfortable seats that can lift you all the way up to the biggest hill in Walhalla, where you can choose your favorite trail to ski/snowboard on.

 

You can breathe fresh air and observe beautiful hills covered with snow while riding the ski lift all the way up. The panorama of nature are incredible; you will not be able to resist taking a picture. It is not prohibited, so take as many pictures as you want!

 

Currently, there are seven runs open include:  Appleton Meadow, Chicory, Prairie Smoke, Lions Tooth Terrain Park, Yarrow, Spiderwort, Oxeye, and Harebell beginner magic carpet hill. Some trails are wide and open, others are narrow and steep with a trees on each side. 

 

Frost Fire has a brand new gear at their ski rental shop. There are wonderful workers who can help you to get your ski/shoes size and the entire gear figure out. They provide a nice service to their visitors. If you have your own gear, you can bring it with and you will just have to pay for the lift ticket.

 

Every weekend, more and more people are coming to enjoy winter activities at Frost Fire. 

 

“This weekend is beautiful weather for skiing. Usually, when the weather is nice like this, we have over 200 people each day,” Gebur said.

 

There is something for everyone at Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort. You can take a break and relax inside the lodge enjoying a hot coco by a warm fireplace. You can watch skiers and snowboarders out the window while warming up. If you are not into skiing or snowboarding, you can hangout inside and play board games, or read a book. 

 

Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort also has Howatt Hangar Grill and Lounge restaurant, a small cafeteria, and a bar where you can eat delicious food, and drink yummy beverages; plus you can eat free popcorn! 

 

On Saturdays, you can enjoy live music played by different musicians. 

 

“Come check us out. Come try our hill. Come, come, come. You will enjoy it,” Gebur said.

Come and enjoy a wonderful weekend with your family and friends at Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort. You will not forget this incredible adventure!

Frost Fire Park and Ski Resort is located on 11950 County 55, Walhalla, North Dakota.

 

Opening hours: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays: 9 am – 4.30 pm. February 17th (President’s day): 9 am – 4.30 pm. March 7th-15th (Spring break): 9 am – 4.30 pm. Last Day March 23rd: 9 am – 4.30 pm.

You can join Frost Fire team by working or volunteering. Now, they are hiring EMTs, lift attendants, and outdoor workers who can groom trails and make sure that the ski resort is nice and safe for people to enjoy their time at the ski resort. Everyone is welcome to apply for any position.

You can find more information about Frost Fire Park and Ski resort at www.frostfirepark.org, Facebook page: frost fire park, Instagram: @frostfirepark, or you can call 701-549-3600.