“There is quite a history there: Love, hate, birth, death, good times and very dark, bad times. All of it shifted out and manifested into a beautiful legacy, treasured by thousands. We are all so happy that the public will be allowed to enjoy it again.”– Sharon Peterson, Daughter of Former Owners of Val Chatel Ski Area
In terms of repurposing a lost ski area, this is one of the better ideas that I’ve seen. The Star Tribune reports that Trust for Public Land bought the 352-acre property that was once home to the Val Chatel ski area in Minnesota. The land was transferred to the Trust for Public Land with the help of an anonymous donor. Hubbard County Land Commissioner Mark “Chip” Lohmeier is collaborating with the Greater Minnesota Regional Parks and Trails Commission “to designate the property as a regional park, which opens up sources of state funding.” The conservation group is hoping to add it to the Paul Bunyon State Forest.
The Deep Lake Regional Park is hoping to open in 2024, and will include “campground and trails for hiking, mountain biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.” The campground will feature separate pods for “larger RVs, smaller campers and tents, spots near the lake and more primitive pack-in or canoe sites scattered around the lake’s edge.” The land features an impressive amount of biodiversity, with native plants like sedge meadow and oak-aspen-red maple forest, and Deep Lake is part of a geologic tunnel valley.
The ski area was founded by Rodney and Helen Peterson in the mid-1950s. Val Chatel featured a gingerbread trimmed base lodge, live yodeling music, and goats that roamed the premises for many years. Rodney and Helen Peterson separated in the 1980s and shut the ski area down shortly afterward. The buildings that were a part of the Val Chatel ski area will be torn down.