Thursday, January 13, 2011

Planning a One-Day Ski Trip in the Midwest

Being from Denver, I'm spoiled when it comes to great ski resorts located just a couple hours away. It certainly makes a day trip to the mountains a lot easier, especially since I've been to many of the resorts and know the slopes. But planning a ski trip in the Midwest is a little more challenging--at least for me. First of all, I have to get over my some what snobby attitude towards Midwest skiing, which is certainly doable, considering there are some relatively nice places to go in Wisconsin and Minnesota and Michigan. (But let's face it, they'll never compare to what I grew up with, I'm sorry, it's just the truth.) But I digress. The second challenge is deciding where exactly to go. Chicago is close to a few ski areas, but it's difficult to know how good they are and if they're worth trying. Some ski resorts, which I've learned about through word of mouth, come highly recommended, but unfortunately take over two hours to get to, and when you only have a day, you want to spend as little time as possible in the car and more time on the hill.

So here are a few options that seem plausible:

  • Wilmot Mountain: It's located just over the border in Wilmot, Wisconsin, only an hour drive from Chicago. It offers 25 runs, a snocross course and four terrain parks.
  • Alpine Ski Resort: A little further north in Wisconsin, but still only an hour and a half from Chicago. It has about 12 runs--though it is unclear from the map on their website--and features two high speed quads and four wonder carpets.
  • The Mountain Top: Located at the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, the mountain features 18 slopes, a terrain park, cross country ski paths and snow shoeing.
    Pricing is a major factor I need to consider, seeing as I'm living on a pretty tight budget right now. I will say one thing, though, the Midwest certainly has more manageable prices for its lift tickets than Colorado, but I guess that means you're paying for what you get. (I know, I can be harsh sometimes.) All of them seem to be in the $40-$50 range, which is definitely manageable.

    Another component I like to think about is the Apres Ski amenities available. Since these resorts are pretty small, the bars and restaurants are limited. However, that doesn't mean they lack in quality. In fact, the Mountain Top is attached to a swanky spa and resort, so there must be great places to grab a drink after a long day of skiing and snowboarding. I must admit, in this aspect, Mountain Top wins out.

    Overall, I think all three would offer a great day of winter fun. But no matter what happens, and no matter how much I might enjoy myself, I still maintain that nothing compares to Colorado.

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