The 7 Best Midwest Ski Resorts

The 7 Best Midwest Ski Resorts
Karl Sander
Written by Karl Sander / Photos by Jack Lee
Last updated September 25, 2020
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The Midwest can’t match the topography of other parts of the country, but it’s snowy winters welcome plenty of hardy adventurers.There isn’t as much sheer vertical in this part of the country, but there’s still plenty of fun to be had. Here are seven of our favorite Midwestern ski resorts!

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Known for

One of the Midwest’s premier destination ski resorts

Highlights

  • Wide variety of terrain
  • Plenty of convenient lodging
  • Lots to do off the slopes including après and nightlife
  • Can be crowded, especially on holiday weekends

Closest airports

Pellston Regional Airport - 36 mi (1 hour drive)
Chicago Midway Intl. Airport - 351 mi (5.5 hour drive)
A family-friendly destination resort (Photo credit: Boyne Mountain)

Boasting 60 runs that cater to all skiing levels and fantastic non-skiing activities, Boyne Mountain is an ideal resort for families. Located more than five hours from Chicago and almost four hours from Detroit, the resort might be a bit out of the way unless you're a local. Nonetheless, it's a great mountain with an extensive snowmaking network ensuring reliable snow conditions. There’s beginner territory that you (or your little ones) can ski without a ticket and there’s also plenty for non-skiers to do, from snowshoeing and ziplining to Michigan’s largest water park. Accommodation choices are plentiful, convenient, and suit every budget.

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Known for

One-of-a-kind river views and an excellent spot for beginners

Highlights

  • Impressive views of the Mississippi River
  • Some of the area’s best beginners’ terrain
  • Convenient lodging and dining
  • A small number of runs

Closest airports

Chicago Midway Intl. Airport - 170 mi (3 hour drive)
Moguls and the terrain park overlooking the Mississippi River (Photo credit: Chestnut Mountain)

Chestnut Mountain offers a modest 19 runs and a single terrain park, but its location in western Illinois is convenient for many Midwesterners and boasts stunning views of the mighty Mississippi. And that terrain park? It’s consistently one of the highest-rated in the region, and so is Chestnut’s beginner terrain. There’s a wide variety of places to eat and sleep near the slopes, plus the nearby town of Galena offers a wealth of other activities such as shopping and galleries, all in a charming setting that seems to belong in another time. Only three hours from Chicago, Chestnut Mountain is also conveniently located for skiers in parts of Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

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Known for

Some of the best terrain parks and longest runs in the Midwest

Highlights

  • Extensive terrain parks
  • Great location near Wisconsin Dells
  • Plenty of night skiing
  • Occasionally crowded

Closest airports

Milwaukee Mitchell Intl. Airport - 111 mi (2 hour drive)
Chicago Midway Intl. Airport - 185 mi (3 hour drive)
A great budget friendly ski resort (Photo credit: Cascade Mountain)

Only a few hours from Chicago and even closer to Milwaukee and Madison, Cascade Mountain is conveniently close to the year-round attractions in Wisconsin Dells. The 11 lifts service a nice variety of terrain on nearly 50 runs, as well as four terrain parks geared towards every ability level. Kids under 12 with an accompanying grown-up can ski for free. That, and off-slope fun that includes 15 tubing chutes that are 800 ft long and live entertainment throughout the season, make Cascade Mountain an excellent choice for families looking to both stretch their winter vacation budget and keep everyone happy!

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Known for

Wisconsin’s biggest resort and highest vertical drop

Highlights

  • One of the best lift systems in the Midwest
  • Plenty of space for beginners
  • Good variety of terrain
  • Relatively expensive

Closest airports

Central Wisconsin Airport - 13 mi (15 minute drive)
Granite Peak is getting a makeover! (Photo credit: Granite Peak)

With 700 ft of vertical and 200 ac of terrain, Granite Peak’s 68 runs might make you think you’re skiing or boarding in a different part of the country. There are runs for every ability and experience level, including dedicated beginner slopes, and the elevation and aspect make for reliably good snow conditions. Recent investments have funded the Midwest’s largest-ever ski resort expansion, and the resort boasts one of the region’s best lift networks. Intermediate skiers have plenty of groomers, and there are terrain parks, moguls, and tree runs to keep more advanced shredders busy. It’s close enough to Green Bay and Milwaukee for a day trip, but nearby Wausau offers plenty of accommodations and dining.

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Known for

Consistently one of the top-rated family ski areas in North America

Highlights

  • Family-friendly full-service resort
  • Good mix of terrain, half available for night skiing
  • Lodging for every taste and budget
  • Modest vertical

Closest airports

Traverse City - 32 mi (40 minute drive)
There's plenty of snow at Crystal Mountain! (Photo credit: Crystal Mountain)

Crystal Mountain keeps its guests busy, with instructional programs for kids as young as 3, free skiing for kids under 6, and plenty to do for people who don’t ski or ride—including an award-winning spa! While the mountain doesn’t boast much vertical, its 58 runs offer plenty for every skill level, and half of the terrain is lit for night skiing. Its scenic location on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan lends itself to reliable lake effect snow, but a robust snowmaking system covers the entire mountain just in case. Either way, you can be sure of good conditions!

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Known for

The best place in Michigan for expert and advanced skiers!

Highlights

  • Extensive expert terrain and tree skiing
  • The largest vertical drop in the Midwest
  • The most snowfall in the region
  • No grooming and no beginner terrain

Closest airports

Houghton County Memorial Airport - 34 mi (45 minute drive)
Sawyer Intl. Airport - 148 mi (3 hour drive)
An experienced skier's heaven (Photo credit: Mount Bohemia)

Unless you happen to live on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Mount Bohemia might make for a long road trip. But its location means that cold Canadian air and Lake Superior’s moisture combine to reliably deliver the biggest snowfalls of any ski resort in the region. There isn’t any beginner terrain, and it’s the only lift-served resort on the continent without any grooming, so it’s not the place to start out. But if you’re ready for a challenge, all of that snowfall, along with the Midwest’s biggest vertical at 900 ft, deliver the kind of bump runs, powder, and tree skiing you might have expected to need an airplane ticket to find!

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Known for

Some of the best snow in the Midwest and ski seasons up to six months long!

Highlights

  • The longest ski season in the Midwest
  • Top-notch snowmaking and grooming
  • Great lift prices which include night skiing
  • Remote location… unless you’re local

Closest airports

Green Bay - 132 mi (2.5 hour drive)
The snow at Ski Brule is worth the drive! (Photo credit: Ski Brule)

Near the boundary between Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, Ski Brule may not be the most convenient resort for many in the Midwest. But if you happen to be a local-or if you’re willing to make the trip-you’ll definitely enjoy the mountain’s expert snowmaking and meticulous grooming. Trails as long as 1 mi, runs through the woods, a 500 ft vertical, and a season that often lasts until May all combine to deliver an excellent experience for Ski Brule’s modest lift ticket prices. The value and the conditions are worth the drive!

The 7 Best Midwest Ski Resorts
Boyne Mountain Resort
Chestnut Mountain Resort
Cascade Mountain
Granite Peak
Crystal Mountain
Mount Bohemia
Ski Brule
Boyne Mountain Resort