Recent snow and cold weather are providing an early start to the Heartlands ski season, which is a nice departure from last year when ski areas mostly remained closed over Thanksgiving weekend and had a rough start even in December making enough snow to be fully open over the Christmas holidays.
An early arrival of winter and temperatures cold enough for snowmaking across the upper Midwest are going to allow some ski areas to be open for the Thanksgiving holidays. Minnesota will be offering the most openings with a few in northern Wisconsin and a couple in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. The Lower Peninsula ski areas at this point have not announced opening dates, but some have already fired up the snowmaking and hopefully that will come soon.
A couple of ski areas, Wild Mountain in Minnesota and nearby Trollhaugen across the border in Wisconsin have already opened for the season. Afton Alps, Powder Ridge, Andes Towers Hills and Lutsen Mountains are planning on being open this weekend Nov. 18 and 19. Buck Hill is opening on Nov. 22, with Spirit Mountain and Giants Ridge scheduled Nov. 25.
Huff Hills Ski Area, located near Bismarck in North Dakota, is opening for the season on Nov. 20, which will mark their earliest opening ever in the 30 years it has been a ski area. Illinois' Chestnut Mountain plans to open Nov. 26, also one of their earliest openings.
In early season it's always a good idea to check the ski area for conditions before making a long drive. Weather can change in just a few days. You can also log onto Snoountry Snow Reports for an up to date review of what's open and conditions.
How would you like to ski, and ride over 20 of the Midwest's top ski areas this winter, every day of the season for just $525?
Several Heartland ski areas allow mountain biking on their summer slopes, but if you’re looking for lift-served, you will only find five.
Duluth's city-owned ski area, Spirit Mountain, continues its financial struggles as the city grapples with what to do with the financially strapped ski area.
Longer days, warming temperatures, and still plenty of snow along Lake Superior in Minnesota's Arrowhead. It's the perfect recipe for a spring Indy Pass road trip to two of the Heartland's larger ski areas, especially in vertical drop. The scenery from the slopes of Spirit Mountain and Lutsen Mountains is some of the best you will find around the Great Lakes.
Here are five Midwest cities with day trip worthy ski areas, all within three hours or less. Arriving mid-week you avoid large weekend crowds. Get an early start and enjoy some uncrowded slope time.
If you want to go skiing in early December in the Midwest, think Minnesota. The Gopher State has the most ski areas open around the Great Lakes, nine open to the public and one currently season pass holders only.
Fat tire winter biking, an option at some resorts in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula and northern Minnesota, also now offers rentals and one even lift service. Check it out.
The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and Minnesota Ski Areas Association offer passport programs that allow elementary-age kids to give skiing and snowboarding a try for free. In Michigan, it covers both fourth and fifth graders. Minnesota’s program covers just fourth graders. Surprisingly Wisconsin, the Heartland state just behind Michigan for a number of ski areas doesn't offer such a program.
For Midwestern skiers that like to get in a lot of slope time around the country outside the Heartland, a few new options are available for this season.
We LOVE this forecast! The SnoCast 2019 Valentine’s Day edition features what we love this week. Give it a read to find out!
The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and Minnesota Ski Areas Association offer passport programs allowing elementary age kids the chance to try skiing and snowboarding for free. In Michigan it covers both fourth and fifth graders, and Minnesota’s program covers fourth graders.
Heartland big-city skiers and riders sometimes have to drive a little further to find a ski hill worthy for playing midweek hooky. But, hooky-worthy ski areas are around, and arriving mid-week you avoid the large weekend crowds.
Zipline tours are popular pursuits at ski resorts throughout the nation. You don’t need a mountain to offer some excitement. Ski resorts in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Illinois offer you the rush of zipping through treetops, over gorges and some fantastic views along the ride of Great Lakes and great rivers. It's great summer fun.
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.
Fat tire bikers at Crystal Mountain have over 11 miles of groomed trails. (Crystal Mountain)
Fat tire biking, popular at western and eastern ski resorts, has been gaining traction in the Midwest. Ski resorts in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula and northern Minnesota are now offering rentals and trails to ride. Check it out.
Snow has been below average for parts of the West but this week features a big change. (Brighton Resort/Facebook)
A much colder and snowier weather pattern returns to the West with feet of snow while the East warms up with more mixed precipitation.
Fat tire bikers work down some rocky terrain. (Spirit Mountain/Facebook)
Spirit Mountain overlooking Duluth and the city’s Lake Superior harbor offers big time skiing and riding for the Midwest with it 700-foot vertical drop.
Crystal Mountain's woodland pathways are a delight to bike. (Crystal Mountain)
Several Heartland ski areas allow mountain biking on their summer slopes, but if you’re looking for lift served, five resorts will turn the lifts for downhill fun.