Most resorts have a bunch of bars to choose from when it comes to apres-ski, but if you want to find the down-home, braggin' rights kind of bar, just follow a local.
Looking for some opportunities to ski over spring break? You don’t have to head out of the Heartland to find plenty of opportunity across the upper Midwest. Save on travel time, expense and enjoy some prime late season slope conditions.
Spring season is a great time to hit those moguls building over the course of a season. Mogul busting is a springtime tradition at these resorts scattered across the upper Midwest. SnoCountry checks them out.
With all the recent winter storms marching across the Heartland, the Midwest appears to be in great shape heading into March. Could we see a repeat of last season that saw many upper Midwest ski areas staying open well into April, and six -Boyne Mountain, Ski Brule, Mount Bohemia and Big Snow, Granite Peak, Lutsen Mountains—stayed open into May?
The recent cold snap to hit the Heartland brought with it some great snow conditions for Midwest ski areas. The coldest weather that forced many to suspend operations for two or three days fortunately came midweek. The bookend weekends brought out good crowds with great slope conditions.
Love is on the slopes. Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but why not consider the whole month of February for a romantic getaway with a little skiing and riding mixed in. Here are some of the best choices around the Great Lakes.
The Heartland is known for its family skiing and time together on the slopes, but, as often the case, family members take off in different directions. It’s not always easy to find slopes that can accommodate all members, but SnoCountry has found five resorts with runs that can keep all members interested and together.
With 2018 quickly coming to a close, several areas across the U.S. and Canada will get final bursts of snow and cold for the year. Here’s the breakdown…
Autumn sweeps across the Midwest like a blaze this time of year. One of the best ways to enjoy breathtaking fall views is a slow chairlift ride to the top of the ski hill. Here’s some of the best around the upper Midwest.
Nubs spring runs are silky smooth. (Nubs Nob/Facebook)
With snow in the forecast this week across the upper Midwest and plenty of snow still on the slopes the snowsports season is extending into April, and a couple may stay open into May.
Spring skiing at Lutsen Mountains overlooking Lake Superior. (Facebook)
Although it's been an up and down weather pattern across the Heartland and Great Lakes, across the northern tier they are in good shape heading into March.
Lunch at Summit Chalet includes view of Minnesota's Lake Superior. (Lutsen Mountains)
Refueling at lunchtime is a long-standing tradition among skiers and riders. And doing so on the mountain – rather than in a crowded base lodge – suits those who don’t want to lose their edge while they pause to eat.
Boyne Highlands freshly groomed. (Boyne)
Winter has arrived across the upper Midwest and is even allowing some ski areas in the lower Heartland to fire up and test the snowguns. It’s some of the earliest openings in 20 years.
Lutsen Mountains is now part of the M.A.X. Pass. (Lutsen/Facebook)
The new M.A.X. Pass, with the addition of six new resorts including two from the Heartland, now offers access to 44 ski areas scattered across North America. It is now available through May 1 at its lowest price, $629 for adults, $429 teens, and $329 youth (6-12). After that prices will increase.
What’s nice for Heartlanders is that the new pass now includes: Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, Michigan; Granite Peak, Wisconsin; and Buck Hill and Lutsen Mountains, Minnesota. The pass provides you five days at each of the ski areas listed with no blackout dates.
Depending on how many days per season you ski or ride you can bounce back and forth to the Midwest areas that are close to each other and take ski trips west or east. If you live in Michigan the two Boyne resorts are close by. Wisconsin and Minnesota snowsports enthusiasts have three areas they can visit. Both Granite Peak and Lutsen make wonderful Heartland locations for a multi-day ski vacation.
If you like to ski several days per week at your local hill you can buy a season pass for any of the five Midwest areas and upgrade to a M.A.X. Pass for an additional cost that will allow you access to the 43 other ski resorts for five days throughout the 2017/18 season. The additional cost is $329, $279 and $229 respectively and most likely can be included in the cost of your local ski area pass.
What I like about it, especially for the hardcore skier or rider, it provides you with the flexibility for lots of great choices from day trips and ski weekends around the Midwest to mountain vacations.
Catchin' some rays at Crested Butte (Crested Butte/Facebook)
One of the perks that comes with sticking out the ski and snowboard season to the end is a great sun tan – and lots of party time in the sunshine.
Most mountain resorts make space for sun-worshippers to engage in their favorite apres-ski activities, and SnoCountry took a look around to find some of the best.
Purgatory. Look out, or you might ski right into Purgy's at the base of the southern Colorado resort. Hit up the outdoor bar for craft beers, order an appetizer, and lounge in the deck chairs for some of the best people-watching locales around.
Park City. Mid-Mountain Lodge once served more than 1,000 miners a day. Now, it's the 10th Mountain outdoor grill at the base of the Pioneer and McConkey's Express lifts. Lodge has two-tiered decks and hosts weddings during summer.
Squaw Valley. Take the tramway to High Camp halfway up the mountain. Even if the pools are empty, there's tons of deck chairs and plenty of choices for a nosh – and the views of the Sierra and Lake Tahoe will amaze.
Lutsen Mountains. Summit Chalet at the top of Moose Mountain lays out food, drink and spectacular views to the North Shore of Lake Superior. Menu offers wraps, soups, burgers and pizza -- including local fave walleye sandwich.
Loon. Camp III, a log cabin in the former logging area on New Hampshire mountain, sits at the base of North Peak Express Quad. It's famous for its venison stew, bison burgers and daily specials – but if the sun's out, hit the expansive deck with a beverage and sun screen.
Sunday River. Foggy Goggle, at the base of the Maine resort, is reputed to have the longest après ski party in the East. Also venue for Bud Light Music Series, with massive deck and tons apres-ski eats on the menu.
Crested Butte. The new Umbrella Bar atop the Prospect Lift gives novices and intermediates a place to catch some rays – if the weather's right. Retractable windows create open-air atmosphere for munchies and local craft beer – and eye-popping views of southern Colorado Rockies.
Families enjoy Giants Ridge and the giant views. (Jim Balfour)
Spring has come early to the Heartland this winter and most of the ski areas across the lower Midwest have closed. The best bets for some late season spring skiing into April are all centered across the northern Great Lakes, and the longer, warmer, sun filled days provide some of the best conditions of the winter.
A skier enjoys a run down Rib Mountain at Granite Peak. (Granite Peak/Facebook)
Heartland skiers and riders on the western side of the Great Lakes have a couple of good choices for spring break on slopes close to home. Two ski resorts with mountain terrain and plenty of snow, one in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota, are just a drive away.
Lutsen Mountains, with currently over four feet of snow covering most slopes, is hosting Family Festival Weekend March 24-25. Starting from $129 per person the package includes two nights lodging, lift tickets and free ski rental for the entire family. There’s also a family fun night at the Summit Chalet topped off with a fireworks display over the mountains. Ski and stay four or more days and children (6-12) ski, stay, eat free and also get free equipment rental.
“With a deep midwinter snowpack, the thaw has had minimal effect on our slope conditions,” Jim Vick, Lutsen spokesperson, told SnoCountry. “Average base on the mountain is still four plus feet and long range forecasts show March temperatures skewing below average, giving every indication that we are good for skiing daily through April 9th and weekends until May.”
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. Add in, a new six-seat, high-speed lift, and mid-America’s only gondola and you have some of the best skiing and riding around the Great Lakes, according to the book.
Wisconsin’s Granite Peak just announced Spring Break Discounts through April 9. If you purchase a two-day lift ticket you get free rental equipment for both days, and you also get lift tickets for the third day, and every other day thereafter, for $30 adult and $20 for children (ages 6-12). There are also weekend and midweek lodging packages available.
The Peak offers 75 trails, a 700-foot vertical drop and three high-speed lifts making it one of the largest ski areas in the Heartland.
Boyne Highlands slopes are ready for skiers and riders. (Boyne Highlands)
An up and down weather pattern that has persisted most of the winter across the Heartland and Great Lakes has now caused some ski areas across the lower Midwest to cease operations this week through Thursday. Most are hoping to re-open on Friday.
Crystal Mountain skiers slicing through the trees. (Crystal Mountain)
Glade skiing and the backcountry, popular out West and in the East, doesn’t take a backseat in the Heartland. Ski areas located across the upper tier of the Midwest offer some fine tree runs, even a few cliff jumps.
When you think backcountry skiing, Upper Michigan’s Mt. Bohemia is legendary. All backcountry, it offers the only cat skiing east of the Rockies. In Powder Magazine's annual reader poll of the best backcountry powder in North America, Bohemia routinely comes out on top in the East and finished in the top four overall one year. There’s a 900-foot vertical drop spread out over 600 acres with cliffs, chutes, trees, steep drops, all natural snow and nothing groomed. The cat skiing is off 700-foot Voodoo Mountain where runs tumble down towards Lake Superior. Annual average lake effect snow is 270-inches. It’s the only Heartland area that is truly “backcountry.”
In addition there are six other ski resorts in Lower Michigan, two in Wisconsin, and one each in Minnesota and South Dakota that offer glade skiing. There’s no backcountry but alluring glades off to the side of groomed runs and some nice swaths in between runs.
The Mountain has three advanced glades and the Highlands four scattered across the ridge. Nubs has seven glades that stretch across the front side, south side and Pintail Peak. One of their upper glade slopes can be accessed only by hiking up; just like out West.
Caberfae Peaks has a 25-acre area off the backside of North Peak marked as backcountry terrain. It’s been gladed and is nice and wide offering plenty of lines.
Wisconsin’s Granite Peak offers several acres of glades in between widely spaced runs scattered across the mountain. Minnesota’s Lutsen Mountains has glade runs scattered across three of their mountains, many well away from the groomed runs offering seclusion like you would find out West.
It can be an exhilarating experience. Just be careful, always looking ahead, bring friend and helmets required.
Mount Washington from top of Wildcat. (Wildcat/Facebook)
One of the true blessings that comes with skiing and snowboarding is the chance to no only get into the mountains but also to rise up to the high ground and soak in an eyeful of wild country that surrounds.
SnoCountry.com took a long look around the country and came up with some it our favorite mountains where, if we pause for a moment, will bring joy to our eyes and hearts. Here they are:
Wildcat. Skiers and snowboarders at New Hampshire resort are treated to a horizon-to-horizon view of Mt. Washington (highest in East) and the Presidential Range – plus sneak preview of springtime hiking fav Tuckerman’s Ravine. Best view: Top of Polecat trail.
Gunstock. Mountain rises up next to Lake Winnipesaukee – largest in New Hampshire – with the Ossipee Range in the foreground and massif of White Mountains looming behind. Best view spot: Top of Panorama lift on Flintlock trail.
Camden Snow Bowl. Only ski and snowboard mountain with view of the Atlantic Ocean off mid-coast of Maine. Best spot: Top of triple chair or top of aptly named Lookout run.
Lutsen Mountains. Sitting on the north shore of Lake Superior, all four mountain rise 1,000 feet out of the world's largest freshwater lake that looks an inland sea, as no land can be seen across the lake. Best spots: At summit of each.
Copper Mountain. Colorado’s central Rockies spread all around Copper, including the Ten-Mile and Gore ranges and Vail Pass – plus a glimpse at Continental Divide off the backside. Best spot: Top of Storm King chair.
Homewood. With the Sierra Range as a backdrop, skiers and riders get to soak in view of iconic Lake Tahoe that (literally) laps up against the base area of Homewood. Best spot: Pretty much anywhere on the hill.
Mt. Baker. Volcanic field in Washington produces long views of the North Cascades National Park and glacier-coated Mt. Baker itself. Best spot: Top of Experts lifts on appropriately labeled Panorama Dome.