A Few Midwest Ski Resorts Remain Open Into April

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A few Midwestern ski areas had been able to stay open into April on weekends and a couple of times in the last few years into May. This season I can find only five and possibly six that plan on staying open through at least the first weekend of April.

At this point Ski Brule in Michigan's UP appears to be open the longest. They are offering an $80 lift and lodging special in their Pioneer Lodge April 12-14. Spring skiing should be great On Saturday April 7 they are offering.$80 Carload Day Lift Ticket. Pay $80 and everyone in your car will get a lift ticket for a day of skiing and boarding.

Surprisingly the last day of skiing at Lutsen Mountains will be April 7. For years have stayed open on weekends through April and the first weekend of May. No explanation just saying they will close after skiing that Sunday. They only received 35-inches of natural snowfall this winter. They are offering a season ending special two nights lodging and two day lift-tickets from $149 per person April 4-7.

Through Boyne Mountain's closing day, April 7, any nearby skier with a season pass from any other resort in Michigan can spend the day skiing the Mountain for just $20.They are calling it Mitten Love, the shape of the Lower Peninsula.

Granite Peak plans to reopen April 5-6 for one last weekend of skiing in the Badger State.

Giants Ridge also plans to reopen April 4-7 when lift tickets will be $41.

Snowriver Mountain Resort would like to open Saturday, April 6, for one last big hurrah for the winter, but they need to know that people would attend. They've set a goal: sell a minimum of 150 tickets to solidify a reopening of Jackson Creek Summit. Could be the biggest party of the year in Midwest snow country. Better get on board quickly.

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Few Midwest Ski Areas Remain Open Into April

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It's been a challenging season for Midwest ski areas with below average snowfall and above average temperatures throughout much of the winter. Many of the smaller areas struggled to open by late December, and all of the ski areas in the lower Heartland have already closed for the season. Only seven ski resorts around the Great Lakes are planning to stay open until April 1, which means they will be open for Easter weekend. Only two plan on skiing into April. In some years a few have skied into the month of May.

Lutsen Mountains, located along Lake Superior's north shore in Minnesota, plans on remaining open daily through April 7, and they guarantee having at least 40 runs open into April. If they cannot meet that goal of 40 or more runs open, you may cancel your reservation without any obligation. That's more than many Heartland ski areas offer when they are fully open, and make no mistake about it, this is mountain skiing. They will be holding their annual Easter egg hunt on the slopes. Save up to 40-percent on lift and lodging through the remainder of the season. They often ski on weekends through the month of April.

In Michigan five ski resorts, three in the lower peninsula and two in the upper peninsula plan to remain open through April 1.

Crystal Mountain is offering some nice Spring Break packages March 22-April1 when you can enjoy lodging rates starting from $101, and all kids 17 and under ski and stay free with ski packages. They have a full day of activities planned for Easter on the Mountain on March 30.

Boyne Mountain has a full line-up of activities to keep everyone happy and entertained through Easter weekend, and the infamous Hemlock Open is slated to take place Saturday April 6 when teams compete skiing in the morning and play golf in the afternoon. Some years this has taken place in early May.

Nubs Nob in Michigan's LP and Snowriver Mountain Resort both plan on staying open through April 1. Snowriver is offering up to 50-percent off lodging through the rest of this month and kids ski, stay and eat free.

Ski Brule plans on staying open daily Thursday through Sunday the rest of this month. Their infamous Brule Bash takes place this coming weekend with half price lift tickets when you ski or ride in full costume. The costume contest winner receives a 2024/25 season pass. They plan on staying open into April.

Granite Peak is the only Wisconsin ski resort remaining open into April. They plan on holding their annual Pond Skim on March 30, and their annual Cardboard Cup, a fun event to watch, takes place on April 6.

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Combine Midwest Ski Trip And Romance For Valentine's Day

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With Valentine's Day approaching why not combine a Heartland ski trip with a romantic location and enjoy the best of both. Here are some great choices to consider around the Great Lakes for both great skiing and romantic nights.

Lutsen Resort, nestled along Lake Superior’s north shore, sits literally just across the road from Lutsen Mountains that rises almost 1,000 feet above the lake. The ski area offers 95 runs that tumble down four interconnected mountains. Minnesota Monthly Magazine calls the 140-year-old resort that sits right on Superior's shoreline “the most romantic resort in the state.” They offer a Ski and Stay package available throughout the winter. Combine your lodging with your ski tickets and save on both. Guests are offered round trip free shuttle service to the ski hill, just minutes away.

Wisconsin’s Granite Peak and the city of Wausau make a nice romantic combo. At night the ski area illuminates the mountain rising above the city. The Jefferson Street Inn, located on the town square, offers a romantic getaway. It's just minutes from the ski area, and after a busy day on the slopes enjoy a soak in their hot tub and a dip in the indoor pool. The Inn's Char Grillhouse is perfect for a romantic dinner. Room rates over Valentine's Day start from around $140 per night. Purchase your lift tickets online from the ski area, and the earlier you reserve the more you save.

Chestnut Mountain, near Galena, Illinois, is perched high atop a ridge overlooking the Mississippi River, and offers some of the best skiing in the Tri-State Region, Trails cut through rock bound cliffs look like they take you right to riverbanks. It's a romantic setting with rooms overlooking the ski slopes and river. The hotel's restaurant the Summit Food & Spirits also offers river views and fine dinning. Room rates midweek at that time are around $120 per night. Purchase your lift tickets ahead of time online from the ski area, and save.

The Inn at Bay Harbor, located in Petoskey between Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain, offers twenty-percent off lift tickets at either ski area with their Romance Package. They provide flowers, wine and much more in a romantic setting. All you have to do is cozy in, and celebrate your love. Between the two ski areas, about a half-hour apart, they offer over 100 ski trails, multiple lifts including high-speed, and numerous terrain parks. The Inn is one of the more romantic locations in Petoskey, often called the “Nantucket of the Midwest.”

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Heartland Ski Resorts Celebrating Significant Milestones

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No less than seven Heartland ski areas are celebrating significant milestones this season. All have been in business at least 65 years and a couple started 85 years ago, according to the International Skiing History Association.

Pine Mountain in Michigan's UP and Wisconsin’s Wilmot Mountain, near Chicago, both opened in 1938. Wilmot has arguably produced more Midwest skiers than any other ski hill in the Heartland. Terry Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota was the first ski resort to open in the Midwest. It opened two years earlier in 1936 followed closely by Granite Peak in the Badger State and the Wolverine State's Caberfae in 1937.

A decade later Wisconsin’s Mont Du Lac, Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota and Boyne Mountain in Michigan all opened in 1948. The Mountain also brought the first chairlift to the Midwest. Both are celebrating 75 years of hosting heartland skiers.

In 1958 Wisconsin’s Tyrol Basin and Michigan's Nubs Nob opened and are celebrating 65 years this season.

Midwest skiing has a long proud history. It’s developed at a pace with the rest of the country. Heartland ski areas have attitude and terrain to match, and these eight ski areas and resorts are great examples of the regions diversity. You don’t have to go far to find skiing and riding across this broad region. It’s been around for a few decades. An added bonus for Heartland skiers is that many of the ski areas also offer night skiing, which you don't find at many western ski resorts.

There are over 120 ski areas scattered across the Heartlands with the most grouped around the Great Lakes states. Michigan has the most ski areas with a little over 40 followed by 30 in Wisconsin and 19 in Minnesota. Michigan's Mount Bohemia in Michigan's UP was recently voted as the top ski resort in the United States by USA Today readers in it's annual poll.

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Midwest Ski Area Holiday Celebrations

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Despite the uneven start of winter across the Heartland you can count on holiday celebrations and skiing these ski resorts around the upper Great Lakes.

Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands will be celebrating the sights and sounds of the holidays through January 1 with lots of planned activities, and New Year’s Eve dinners, live bands and celebrations capped with fireworks over the ski slopes. Holiday week takes place on the Mountain December 20 through January 1, and at the Highlands December 15 through December 31st. The Midwest's first eight seat, high-speed lift will be operating on the Mountain's Disciples Ridge, and the first modern bubble liftin the Heartland, which offers a very comfortable ride, will be heading up the slopes at the Highlands.

Crystal Mountain will be hosting holiday celebrations December 22 through January 6. On the 24th ski with Santa. Planned activities will be taking place every day—fat bike tours, snowshoe tours, outdoor lasar tag horse drawn surrey rides—with dinners, live entertainment and New Year’s Eve celebrations. For families planning a visit kids 17 and under sleep free any time and kids from 7-17 ski free Sunday through Thursday. Six and under kids sleep, ski and eat breakfast free any time.

Shanty Creek’s 12 days of holiday events include story time with Santa on Friday December 15 and breakfast with the jolly old elf Saturday, December 16 and a visit with Santa at Schuss Mountain that evening and stay for the Torchlight Parade at 7:15 (weather permitting) and fireworks over Schuss Mountain. On Christmas Day ski and ride free with Santa on the Schuss Mountain slopes. Just bring a non-perishable food item or clothing to donate.

Ski Brule will be hosting a New Year's Eve celebration with skiing, tubing, a dinner, torchlight parade down the ski hill and fireworks over the ski hill followed by music and dancing through midnight. They currently have $58 advanced lift tickets on sale through December 24, which are valid anytime during the 2023/24 season. It's a savings of $15 per lift ticket.

Granite Peak is hosting their first ever Holiday Themed Family Festival, December 15-17, Santa and Buddy Elf will be there on Saturday, a special fireworks show that evening. There will be groomer rides with Santa an additional $20 per person, free s'mores lots of holiday lights and cheer. Family Festival weekend packages are priced and designed for families of three or more. Packages include discounted lift tickets with a two-night stay as well as free rentals for kids 12 & under.

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Trollhaugen Nears Completion On New Chairlift

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Trollhaugen, one of the Badger State's oldest ski areas is nearing completion on its latest improvements. It was the fourth ski area to open in Wisconsin in 1950. Only Granite Peak,1937, Wilmot Mountain 1938, and Mont Du Lac in 1948 opened earlier. Located just across the Wisconsin/Minnesota border the storied ski area has long been a favorite for Twin Cities skiers and riders, which is about 50 minutes northeast of downtown.

“The Summit Expansion is getting closer to the finish line! New chair, new trails, new snowmaking, new lights, new memories to be made. Bring on the cold. SKOL,” is a current post on the ski area's Facebook page.

Two summers ago they removed the old two-person single-speed chair 1 and installed a new variable speed four-person chairlift that greatly improved uphill capacity. They also began clearing three new trails on the east side of the summit area and added snowmaking. The following summer saw them finish that project with lighting added to the new runs. This past summer 2023 they started construction on another new, variable three-person chairlift on the southeast side of the summit area and added more new trails in that area.

Trollhaugen currently offers 30 runs, four quad chairs, four surface tows, three terrain parks, 10 snow tubing lanes, and a 2.5km cross country trail.. On Friday nights throughout the season, they remain open until 3 am. with live music in the lounge.

They were able to open a couple of runs for about three days earlier last weekend, one of the first to open in the Heartland. That drew some snowboarders from Chicago, over a five hour drive, to make the trip and kickoff the season. They are currently making snow when temperatures allow and anticipate reopening before Thanksgiving for the season. They are offering a Thanksgiving race camp November 24-26.

It's been called a time machine, hearkening back to the Heartland's older, smaller ski areas, and a true Midwest gem.

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Indy Pass Best Midwest Ski Pass For Multiple Resorts

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For Heartland skiers and snowboarders that like visiting multiple resorts during the ski season the Indy Pass is your best choice. Many of the 26 Midwest ski areas and resorts included with this year's pass are located near each other, which presents an excellent opportunity for several multi-day road trips across the Heartland.

The Indy Pass went back on sale earlier this month. You have to sign up on a wait list to be contacted, but after signing up on the list it doesn't take long to be contacted to purchase a pass for the 2023/24 ski season.

 Many buy a season pass for convenience at a ski area near them that they enjoy skiing or riding, which is fine. If you like to visit a variety of ski areas throughout the season rather than just staying with one you might consider purchasing the Indy Pass, which offers the most choices of any multiple ski area pass in the Midwest. It's good at 26 ski areas scattered across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan, South Dakota, and one in Thunder Bay, Ontario just across the border.

 The pass is currently on sale $399 for adults and $199 children (12 and under) for the regular Indy Pass that does have blackout dates at some of the areas. The Indy+ Pass is $499 adults and $249 children with no blackout dates. The pass is good for two free days of skiing or snowboarding at each ski area and 25% off the daily rate for a third day on the slopes. Passholders will be mailed an RFID-enabled Indy Pass with a photo for a $10 fee. It gives you direct-to-lift access at select Indy resorts, and expedited lift ticket pick-up at all Indy resorts.

Many ski areas are grouped within easy driving distance of each other, which means you can take road trips to visit two or three different resorts on one trip. There are trips like that in northwestern Lower Michigan, Upper Michigan, northern Wisconsin and Minnesota around the Great Lakes. The Indy Pass is good at two of the Heartland's largest ski resorts, Granite Peak, at 700 feet, in the Badger State, and Terry Peak, over a 1,000 feet, in South Dakota's Black Hills, and one of the most scenic Chestnut Mountain overlooking the Mississippi River in Illinois.

It's also good at around 70 other ski areas across the Lower 48, which means it’s easier than ever to road trip west or east as well.

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New Lifts Scheduled For Some Big Midwest Resorts

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Three of the Heartlands largest ski resorts are going to be busy this summer adding new high-speed lifts to improve uphill access and one also for comfort. The new lifts will all be operational for the 2023/24 ski season.

Boyne Highlands will be installing the Midwest's first six-person bubble chairlift. It's replacing three older, slower three-person lifts—Camelot, Valley and MacGully. It extends to the top of Upper Camelot slope, which will allow for quicker access to a variety of scenic, popular terrain. It will also serve as the primary lift for summer chairlift rides and expanding mountain bike trails. The Camelot slope is being extensively regraded to also allow progressing beginners to enjoy the benefits of the new lift. The new lift will be the ultimate in comfort ride. It will have heated, extra wide seats that are ergonomically designed, plus individual footrests. You'll be warm and protected from the elements with a quick three-minute ride to the top in what the Highlands is billing as the fastest ride in the Midwest.

Snowriver Mountain Resort is installing the first six-seat, high-speed lift in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. A much needed improvement it will be replacing three old double chairlifts that took about a 10-minute ride to climb the 630-foot ski hill, largest in the UP. It's an upside down resort where you start from the top of the ski hill and take the chairlift back to the top where the day lodge and all the lodging is located. The new lift will make it a quick ride back up in about three-and-half minutes, which will mean more slope time. Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner, Jr. purchased the old Indianhead/Black Jack ski hills last fall renaming it Snowriver Mountain Resort. Look for many improvements over the coming years.

Speaking of Lutsen they are installing a new high-speed, six-person chairlift on popular Eagle Mountain, which will be their second high-speed, six-seater. Their first was installed a few years ago on Moose Mountain. They also operate the only gondola in the Heartland that takes passengers from Eagle up to Moose, which rises over a 1,000 feet above Lake Superior. Travel Blue Book calls Lutsen Mountains one of the “Top Five Ski Resorts You May Not Have Heard Of.” It offers 1,000 skiable acres, an 860-foot skiable drop and 95 runs off four mountain peaks, each offering breathtaking views of Lake Superior. Eagle Mountain offers some of the best spring bump runs around the Great Lakes.

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SnoCast: Making Turns Into April With More Snow

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Yep. We're still going!

This week's SnoCast honors the incredible season behind us, while keeping sights ahead at the forecast and where you can still find new snow as we make the turn into April. With a potentially record-long ski season for several Western U.S. mountains, new snow is the icing on the geographical cake. 

I'm following at least two more storms out West to keep this already epic season rolling, a battle ground in the central U.S., and bittersweet springtime weather across the East. Whether you are amped for skiing into July, or ready to take those final buttery spring turns, here's what to expect, weather-wise, from coast to coast in SnoCast for March 30-April 5, 2023. 

 

East

A potent spring storm will impact the Midwest and Northeast late Thursday through Saturday with a variety of precipitation types, depending on your location. Much like many late March storms, we'll find a battle zone as seasons clash. Snow on the front and tail end, will be interrupted by a conveyor belt of warm springtime air, introducing high wind, the chance for icy mix, as well as thunderstorms!

Midwest

Northern Wisconsin and the UP of Michigan sees a burst of snow late Thursday night, as otherwise wet and stormy weather (many storms turning severe) continues just to the south. We'll likely see disruptions to the ski areas still turning chairs from southern Wisconsin through Michigan. 

However, as the storm lifts northeastward from southern Wisconsin into southern Quebec Saturday, colder air returns on the backside of the system, allowing a period of snow to develop for northern Wisconsin, the UP of Michigan where winter storm watches are in effect. A fast with 3-7" and blizzard conditions are expected. Look to Granite Peak, Ski Brule, and Big Powderhorn and others nearby for new snow and wind by early Saturday, turning calmer and less windy on the slopes through Sunday.

Outside of ski interests, this storm will be powerful. NOAA's Weather Prediction Center tweeted out an impact graphic to see the big picture. 

 

 

Northeast

Ahead of the storm center, we'll find a similar brief period of snow Friday for the mountains in New York and New England before a turn to wet weather on (no joke) April Fools Day, Saturday. Likewise, just enough cold air returns on the back end by overnight Saturday to squeeze out 1-4" of snow across Vermont and northern New York peaks. Look to the tall-boys, like Stowe, Jay, and Whiteface by early Sunday for a bit of new snow. 

West

It's still going out West. This season has delivered unreal snow totals, especially for California and Utah (did you see Mammoth hit a new all-time snow record?).  Mother Nature will spread the wealth again through next week. 

Thursday, a trough continues to dig across the Western U.S. generating mountain snow for most of the Southwest and Rockies, heaviest for the southwest facing ranges, including Utah's Wasatch Mountains, the Bitterroots of Idaho/Montana, and the Caribou Ranges near the Idaho/Wyoming line. These areas could see up to a foot of snow, while other slopes around the West see lesser amounts, but still freshies, through Friday.

By Saturday, the next front and trough dig in across the Pacific Northwest, dumping a widespread 1-2 feet of snow over the Cascades and B.C. Coast Ranges, and 8-16" over the Idaho peaks. Locally higher amounts may fall at the highest passes through Sunday.

Through early next week, this system moves south and east, spreading light to moderate totals over the north and central Rockies  (not shown on the map below, which only shows snow through early Sunday, April 2). 

 

I'll see you next week right here on SnoCountry.com for one more SnoCast with a season summary and top totals around the country! 

-Meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin

 

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Upcoming Fun Events Around Upper Midwest Ski Areas

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April Fools Day may be on the horizon, but no fooling there is still some fun to look forward to on upper Midwest ski slopes. Don't put those skis and snowboards away just yet. Get out and enjoy some of the best slope time of the season with prime conditions and longer daylight hours.

Wisconsin's Granite Peak is hosting an April Fool's Festival, Saturday, April 1, which includes clowns, a circus atmosphere and a cardboard cup race on the slopes in view of the historic deck. Sleds can only be constructed of cardboard, zip ties, & duct tape. The Peak's Pond Skim event took place Saturday, March 25.. Competitors who made it across had a shot at a 23/24 Season Pass, based on judges choice. They remain open daily through April 8.

Mount Bohemia, in Michigan's UP, which remains open weekends through April, is hosting a Beach Party on Saturday April 1. It includes a pool party, and an egg hunt for prizes. Dress up in your best Fools Day costume to hit the slopes. The winner with the best costume will receive two seats for a day in the Voodoo Mountain snowcat next season. There's also a bikini race with the winner receiving a two year season pass. The winner is voted on for both form and the best bikini. An egg hunt also takes place with prizes involved.

Minnesota's Lutsen Mountains is hosting it's infamous and long running Sweetwater Shakedown March 31-April 2. Cool nights and warm spring sun push the North Star State maples into producing sweet maple syrup. It also produces some of the finest spring corn snow skiing around the Great Lakes. Hence the celebration of the sweet water run (maple syrup) with sweet skiing and sweet music with eight bands performing over the three days, day and night. It's one of the best spring skiing events in the Heartland. Lutsen remains open daily through April 19.

Also open daily into April are Michigan's Boyne Mountain open through April 19, Crystal Mountain and Snowriver Mountain Resort through April 2.

All are in good shape with most of their slopes and trails open heading towards April.

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SnoCast: A Leprechaun-Worth of Snow Fell. Now, More Luck in the Forecast

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Better late than never, right? Most of New England’s resorts got a traditional, purely-magical Nor’easter March 13-15. Granted snow has been decent in northern New England so far this winter, it was just what we needed to extend our skiing and riding to the late part of the year.

In fact, both coasts have been getting clobbered. Yet another atmospheric river slammed California and at least one more is on its way.

This is a fun time of the year, when pond skimming is followed up by Gaper Days. Head to the hill and enjoy the extra daylight, warmer temperatures, and those party-like environments for the St. Patrick’s Day weekend! Let’s dive into the details in this week’s SnoCast for March 16-22, 2023.

 

EAST & MIDWEST

Well, that storm performed! The Nor’easter hit in true fashion, dumping on the mountains while leaving the valleys accessible (when it comes to travel). Several mountains got 3 feet of snow, with top amounts up to 40 inches. Check out the latest snow reports at your favorite mountain, here on SnoCountry.com

Looking ahead, the next big storm will hit the Great Lakes and Upper Midwest Thursday, lingering into Friday. Four to eight inches of snow will fall, with locally higher amounts closer to Canada. For the Appalachians and New England, this will bring primarily light rain showers (green on the maps below). There will be some snow, however, in far northern New England.

Friday, St. Patrick’s Day, will be windy and mild, the weekend then turning colder (especially on Sunday). Lake-enhanced snow showers will provide some freshies this weekend. Monday-Wednesday will be sunny and comfortable. Best bets: Lutsen Mountains, Granite Peak, Gore Mountain, Magic Mountain, and Gunstock.

WEST

We can officially say this has been California’s snowiest winter in decades, maybe even in a generation! The University of California Berkeley Central Sierra Snow Lab (UCB-CSSL) has surpassed 650 inches of snow so far this season, putting the lab in the top 3 for snowiest winters. With another storm this week, the second-snowiest winter season looks unavoidable!

On Thursday, snow showers will continue in the Rockies from an event that began on Tuesday. Greatest additional snow will be in the southern Rockies with 6-12” to finalize a 1-2 foot snowstorm for many in the West. Generally quieter weather can be expected through St. Patrick’s Day on Friday and through the weekend. There will be some light snow showers from New Mexico and Arizona northwestward to CA/OR/WA this weekend. Generally, 4-8” of snow is predicted.

 

Here we go again! Yet another atmospheric river is forecast to arrive at the California coast Monday-Tuesday, March 20-21. This could be another doozy above 7,500 feet elevation with measurements in feet once again. Snow won’t stay in Cali, though. Much of the West will get wind and snow showers through Tuesday, March 22 with frequent totals of 15-20 inches. Best bets: Purgatory, Park City, Taos, and any operable California resort you can get to! 

With so much snow, avalanche warnings have been issued. Check the latest hazard level at www.avalanche.org. We'll see you next week with the latest SnoCast! Have a fun weekend and don't forget to wear green!

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Midwest Indy Pass Holders Have Until March 21 To Purchase 23/24 Pass On Sale

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It's just been announced that the Indy Pass for 2023/24 is currently on sale through March 21, but only for current and former passholders. The adult base price is $279 and the Indy + Pass is $379 for zero blackout days, according to press release from Doug Fish.

I wrote in an October post, “The Indy Pass for Heartland skiers and riders, with the new ski areas that have joined, is a great choice. Many of the ski areas and resorts are located near each other, which presents an excellent opportunity for several multi-day road trips across the Heartland.”

If you didn't purchase a pass for this ski season the best you can hope for now is to be placed on a waitlist to reserve access to passes before the general public. The waitlist can be joined on the website, according to the press release. The waitlist member opportunity begins on March 24 and ends six days later on March 30. General public sales begin on April 1 if any passes are available at that time.

The popularity of the Indy Ski Pass, according to Fish, led to restrictions being placed on the number of passes to be sold for next season.

“Our passholders choose the pass because it offers access to a fantastic lineup of independent resorts with less crowded slopes. As we grow the last thing we want to do is overwhelm the resorts and ruin the experience for their guests.”

Many Midwesterners buy a season pass for convenience at a ski area near them that they enjoy skiing or riding. If you like to visit a variety of ski areas throughout the season rather than just staying with one you considered purchasing the Indy Pass, which offered the most choices of any multiple ski area pass in the Midwest. It's good at 30 ski areas scattered across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and South Dakota.

It's good at three of the Heartland's largest ski resorts, Lutsen Mountains, near a 900 foot vertical in the Gopher State, Granite Peak, at 700 feet, in the Badger State, and Terry Peak, over a 1,000 feet, in South Dakota's Black Hills.

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SnoCast: Storms in the East; West (Finally) Settles

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The West finally settles down after an extremely active stretch, while the East prepares for three storms this upcoming week. Here's the forecast scoop in this week's SnoCast. 

East

On Thursday, a storm continues to lift northeastward through the Great Lakes, delivering blustery winds and a healthy 6-12" of snow for parts of northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Great news for Midwest ski areas around Granite Peak, WhitecapShanty Creek, and Big Powderhorn

This same system shifts to the Northeast later Thursday-Friday, delivering much-need 5-10"+ of snow for northern New England ski areas, with highest amounts in northern Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine. Look to Jay Peak, Burke Mountain, Loon, Sunday River and others nearby.

Unfortunately, warmer air sneaks in from the south generating a wintry mix parts of the Catskills, Poconos, and Berkshires with slick travel expected. 

Colder air returns for all through Friday with light upslope snow lingering across the northern Appalachians, which will be followed up by a beautiful weekend for skiing and riding. Get out and love it! 

A second system will track up the Appalachians to interior New England Sunday through Monday (1/22-23). This time, the rain/snow line threatens to bisect New England from southwest to northeast, so most likely areas to see snow remain across northern Pennsylvania , New York, Vermont and perhaps northern New Hampshire. Keep monitoring as the rain/snow line will shift based on the exact storm track. 

A brief lull Tuesday, before yet another storm targets the Northeast by mid-next week with another good chance of snow for the north. A bit too far out to talk amounts, but at this point, any snow is good snow.

 

West

After an unbelievably active stretch, the West finally appears to have a break in view. With nearly a dozen separate storms since late December, California and Utah have had huge totals, now topping some 300-400" on the season (in some cases more, including Alta at 426" and Brighton at 412"!). Excellent news for the snowpack and water resupply out West.

On Thursday, a cold front continues to sag across southern California toward the Southwest U.S. with snow drifting over the four-corners states by Friday. Expect a general 2-6" of snow for the Arizona, southern Colorado, and New Mexico mountains to round out the week. 

Most of Saturday looks pleasant to hit the slopes, albeit breezy over the Rockies.

 A system drops in from western Canada and the northern U.S. Rockies by Saturday night-Sunday with potential for 5-10" in the Washington Cascades, and a fresh 2-6" for Oregon and Idaho before slowly drifting down the northern Rockies by Monday.

This will open to the door and allow much colder air to spill in for much of the West next week.

Check in again each Thursday for a new SnoCast. Until then, happy skiing and riding!

- Meteorologist Kerrin Jeromin

 

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Celebrating New Years Eve In Midwest Ski Country

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Winter has returned across the upper Midwest measured in feet of snow and several resorts have plans to celebrate the season. A welcome return in lieu of the last couple of year's subdued celebrations.

Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands will be celebrating the sights and sounds of the holidays through January 7 with lots of planned activities, and New Year’s Eve dinners, live bands and celebrations capped with fireworks over the ski slopes. The Midwest's first eight seat, high-speed lift opened December 23 on the Mountain's Disciples Ridge.

Crystal Mountain will be hosting holiday celebrations through January 7. On the 24th ski with Santa. Planned activities will be taking place every day—fat bike tours, snowshoe tours, horse drawn surrey rides—with dinners, live entertainment and New Year’s Eve celebrations. Winter Trails Day is January 7 and a great time to try free cross country skiing and snowshoeing.

Treetops is hosting both family and adult-only New Years Eve parties that includes a lobster and filet dinner. Fireworks over the slopes takes place at midnight. An unusual activity that the family can partake in are dog sledding rides. It's the only Michigan snowsports resort that offers an opportunity to try dog sledding.

Ski Brule you can ride with Olympic gold medalist on December 29 and 31 and plan on staying over for the music and dancing 8 p.m.-midnight, a torchlight parade and fireworks at 9 and New Year's Eve dinner. You can also enjoy the Homestead BBQ, a bonfire, music, tubing and sleigh ride on December 30.

Granite Peak is hosting a New Year’s Eve party with a torchlight parade and fireworks over the mountain at 7 p.m. The historic Sundance Chalet will have live music, a special menu, a champagne toast and balloon drop at midnight. The party is free, no cover charge, and kids are welcome at parent’s discretion.

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Rib Mountain State Park And Granite Peak Expansion Proposal Still Ongoing

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Over 400 people weighed in on proposed Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources plans for changes to Wisconsin's Rib Mountain State Park and expansion of Granite Peak downhill skiing area during public comment periods in October and November, according to a recent article in the Wausau Daily News. The next step will be for them to forward a draft of their plan to the state's Natural Resources Board for consideration.

Some of the changes include allowing Granite Peak to expand downhill skiing. In 2015 the ski area made application with Wisconsin DNR to access an additional 150 aces of the state park in a long-term lease, which they currently have in place for the 415 acres already leased. Other changes potentially include developing mountain bike trails and adding a trail corridor linking the park with nearby Nine Mile County Recreation Forest.

“The first phase would be adding an additional 12 runs on the west side of the existing ski area and two on the east side. Two chairlifts, including Granite Peak’s fourth high-speed lift, will also be included with the dozen new runs,” owner Charles Skinner, Jr., told SnoCountry at the time. “We really need the additional runs. On busy days the existing runs, especially the most popular, are pretty crowded. Our annual skier visits are around 110,000, and the expansion spreads the crowd out making it more enjoyable for all skiers and snowboarders.”

The expansion will open up mostly new terrain for lower intermediates and beginner, which will allow them access to the top of the mountain and an easier run down, according to Skinner. “The new runs will be much more comfortable for them and get them to the top of the mountain for the thrill of that view,” he said.

The newspaper reported that many members of the business community and civic leaders applauded the plan, which they concluded could help transform the area into an viable outdoor recreation area in the Midwest. The area already has a strong tourism industry. Most of the criticism of the proposal from those who spoke at the hearings were around the proposal to expand downhill skiing saying that it would diminish the natural area and possibly create water runoff problems with melting snow.

Planners could modify the document before submitting it based on public input. No time table was given for approval of the plan by the Natural Resources Board, which has been in the works now for nearly seven year

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The Indy Pass Is An Excellent Choice For Midwestern Skiers

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The Indy Pass for Heartland skiers and riders, with the new ski areas that have joined, is a great choice. Many of the ski areas and resorts are located near each other, which presents an excellent opportunity for several multi-day road trips across the Heartland.

Many buy a season pass for convenience at a ski area near them and that they enjoy skiing or riding, which is fine. If you like to visit a variety of ski areas throughout the season rather than just staying with one you might consider purchasing the Indy Pass, which offers the most choices of any multiple ski area pass in the Midwest. It's good at 30 ski areas scattered across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and South Dakota.

Several of the ski areas are grouped within easy driving distance of each other, which means you can take road trips to visit two or three different resorts over a week long trip. There are trips like that in northwestern Lower Michigan, Upper Michigan, northern Wisconsin and Minnesota around the Great Lakes. The Indy Pass is also good at three of the Heartland's largest ski resorts, Lutsen Mountains, near a 900 foot vertical in the Gopher State, Granite Peak, at 700 feet, in the Badger State, and Terry Peak, over a 1,000 feet, in South Dakota's Black Hills.

The pass is currently on sale through November at $329 for adults and $149 children for the regular Indy Pass that does have blackout dates at some of the areas. The Indy+ Pass is $429 adults and $199 children with no blackout dates. The pass is good for two free days of skiing or snowboarding at each ski area and 25% off the daily rate for a third day on the slopes. Once your Indy Pass has been registered you simply go to the ticket window, get your lift ticket with your driver's license or photo ID for each day you wish to ski or ride.

For Midwest road trips it doesn't get any easier to combine ski areas for easy access and multiple days of skiing and riding. Of course it is also good at 70 other ski areas across the Lower 48, which means it’s easier than ever to maximize both your turns and your season.

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Midwest Ski Season Openings Slated For November

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Three ski areas in the Midwest, Wild Mountain and Andes Tower Hills, Minnesota, and Trollhaugen in western Wisconsin, were able to open limited terrain last week. Four other ski resorts, one each in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and two in Michigan's Upper Peninsula (UP) have planned openings in the next three weeks. The Heartland ski season is underway.

Ski Brule in the UP has the planned earliest season opener slated for November 11. They are routinely one of the earliest opening ski resorts in the Heartland. Lift tickets are free on opening day. They have a Thanksgiving special offering half-off on Wednesday night lodging if you plan on staying through the holiday weekend for four nights. Their highly regarded Thanksgiving Race Camp is taking place over the four days.

Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota and Snowriver Mountain Resort, also in the UP have planned season openers slated for November 19. Lutsen plans on having 10 runs open on Eagle Mountain and early season lift tickets are $79 through December 16. Ski in/ski out lodging specials at Lutsen are available from $109 per night. Snowriver lift tickets will be the same as Lutsen, $69 through December 16, and you can purchase two day lift tickets for $10 off online. No lodging specials were listed on their website. Both resorts will be limiting lift ticket sales on weekends and holidays, which means buy ahead online.

Wisconsin's Granite Peak has an opening slated during the week before Thanksgiving. No lodging specials were listed on their website, but affordable lodging is within minutes of the ski area. Lift tickets are $79 from opening day through December 16. Purchase before November 15 and save 20% off the posted rates. They will also be limiting lift ticket sales on holidays and weekends, which means purchase online ahead of time.

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Lutsen, Granite Peak Owner Purchases Michigan's Big Snow Resort

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Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak owner Charles Skinner, Jr. recently completed purchasing Big Snow Resort, which is located in Michigan's western Upper Peninsula (UP).

 Big Snow is actually two older Midwestern ski resorts, Indianhead and Black Jack operated as one resort under one owner that are less than a mile apart across a valley from each other. It's the largest ski area in the UP. Indianhead has a 638-foot vertical and Blackjack is 490 feet. Skinner has already announced he is changing the name from Big Snow to Snowriver Mountain Resort, and the two historic base areas will be renamed for the rivers flowing through the resort, Black River Basin for Blackjack and Jackson Creek Summit for Indianhead. The two areas provide 400-acres for snowsports with the possibility of expanding to 500-acres.

 Both ski areas are antiquated with old Riblet chairlifts and base lodges that need a lot of updating. Jackson Creek has five chairlifts and Black River has four. Both offer lodging and a hotel is located at the top of Jackson Creek, which is an upside-down resort with its base area on top as you drive in. Look for big changes in the future, including tying the two ski areas together in the valley with a connecting lift so they won't have to run a shuttle between them. A single lift ticket is good at both locations.

 When Skinner purchased Granite Peak it was a rundown rustic ski area with a big vertical, 700 feet, and a lot of promise. The old area, called Rib Mountain didn't even get to the top. In less than two decades he transformed it into one of the largest in the Midwest adding more terrain, trails, high-speed lifts and creating a vibrant new base area. Lutsen Mountains is the largest ski resort in the Heartland operating off four mountain peaks with an 860-foot vertical and the only gondola mid-America.

 All three resorts are now operated as the Midwest Family Ski Resorts, which was created by Skinner and his daughter Charlotte Skinner, who joined her father after graduating from Columbia University and gaining finance experience through public technology companies she worked for. The Midwest Family Ski Resorts offers what they call the Legendary Pass, which offered unlimited skiing and snowboarding at Lutsen and Granite Peak last season. Snowriver Mountain Resort is being added for the 2022/23 season. The Legendary Pass is currently on sale for $899. All three resorts are also members of the Indy Pass.

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Indy Pass A Good Option For Midwest Skiers And Riders

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It's that time of year when the 2022/23 season passes are going on sale, and at the lowest price point before they start going up in a month or two. If you are a season pass holder now is the time to think about renewing, and if not maybe you want to consider your best option for next winter.

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Wisconsin's Trollhaugen Making Major Improvements

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One of the Badger State's oldest ski areas, Trollhaugen, continues to make improvements. It was the fourth ski area to open in Wisconsin in 1950. Only Granite Peak, 1937, Wilmot Mountain in 1938, and Mont Du LacMo, 1948 came before it. Located just across the Wisconsin/Minnesota border the storied ski area has long been a favorite for Twin Cities skiers and riders, which is about 50 minutes northeast of downtown.

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