Winter ski guide Midwest: 8 ski areas for families, ski purists or airy day guests | Companies

CHICAGO – For the expanse of flat prairie land that makes up the Midwest, the skiing options are decent – even respectable – with a handful of terrain and runs that rival the more famous resorts to the east or west.

And as the winter months begin, talks are also being held about masks and social distancing for another round of the ski season. For some, COVID-19 means a permanent change in operations.

At Cascade Mountain, near the Wisconsin Dells, last season’s pandemic logs highlighted the benefits of capping day ticket sales, which has resulted in capacity being limited regardless of COVID-19, said Marketing Director Evan Walz.

“It makes for a better driving experience for our guests and a better operating experience for us,” he said. “It’s well, well below what a typical Saturday was in previous seasons. The days of massive elevator lines that can’t move anywhere – that’s over. “

Last year the resort had a strict masking policy that required guests to wear a mask at all times, including outdoors on the slopes. This season they offer guests a choice with promising vaccination rates.

“We strongly recommend that they wear masks for obvious reasons. There is a chance of being exposed just about anywhere people are. But we will do our part and only hope that the guests will take security measures due to their level of comfort, ”said Walz. Employees will continue to wear masks.

Several ski resorts, including Cascade Mountain, have renovated their online cart transaction systems for online sales, adding Walz, another product from COVID-19.

Even without the additional stressors of COVID-19, choosing the right ski area requires some thinking and clicking to find the best slopes, the most scenic clearings and, for newbies, the easiest terrain.

So if you’re traveling to the Midwest this winter, take your skis with you. Here’s a look at some great resorts to visit:

n Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; 262-248-8811;

Grand Geneva, conveniently located between Milwaukee and Chicago, is home to 20 runs served by three chairlifts and terrain for all ages and abilities. The resort’s ability to make snow makes it possible to stay open even when there is no snow.

Certified ski instructors who are trained in the latest ski techniques offer both beginners and experienced skiers individual support. A few pointers about the pandemic: Lift tickets are only sold online for a set amount per day, and guests are asked to get ready in their car before heading to the ski resorts.

For non-skiers, tobogganing or ice skating is just as possible as hiding in the game room with air hockey, ping-pong and more.

After a day on the slopes (or at the spa), guests can sip hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps or a hot teddy bear under the Wisconsin sky in a heated igloo for 90 minutes. The igloos run from November 22nd to March 14th.

n Chestnut mountain resort, 8700 W Chestnut Mountain Road, Galena, Illinois; (800) 397-1320;

Chestnut has 19 ski slopes and snowboard trails, a good portion of which are beginner-friendly, with 12 green or blue slopes, a bunny trail, and Rookie’s Ridge for a designated place to get your snow legs. The resort’s longest run is an impressive 3,500 feet.

Group ski lessons are $ 20 per hour. Do you fancy snowboarding? The Burton Learn-to-Ride package includes a lift ticket, snowboard rental especially for beginners, and a two-hour lesson for $ 150.

And if you’ve never climbed a moving ski lift, don’t worry, Chestnut’s ski staff are equipped to help skiers every step of the way. Above all, the view of the Mississippi from the hilltops is worth every fall, slide and rough fall.

Regarding the safety of COVID-19, masks will be required indoors regardless of vaccination status.

n Wilmot mountain, 1931 Fox River Road, Wilmot, Wisconsin; 262-862-2301;

Shared by Vail, Breckenridge, Alpine Valley and Brandywine, Wilmot Mountain is just over an hour’s drive from downtown Chicago and is great for a day trip or a spontaneous getaway from the city.

Day passes start at $ 70 with early bird rates through November 21. As soon as you have found your way around, you can explore four green trails, seven blue trails and seven Black Diamond trails or try out freestyle terrain parks with ramps, fun boxes and halfpipes.

Face-covering is required indoors and, at the time of going to press, proof of vaccination is required for guests 12 and over to dine in some restaurants, including ski school programs with lunch. Employees must be vaccinated and have daily health checks.

n Kristallberg, 12500 Crystal Mountain Drive, Thompsonville, Michigan .; 855-995-5146;

The range of winter activities at this northern Michigan resort will tempt any adventurous child, from an obstacle-filled outdoor laser tagging course to an archery range to a sled ride on the 1,700-foot alpine slide.

And then there is skiing. Up to four family members can take a personal tour of Crystal Mountain with a ski or snowboard instructor, or children can learn independently with lessons based on age and ability. Parents can book Nanny McSki, certified childcare teachers who spend the day with the little ones. Meanwhile, adults can try some Black Diamond trails or relax in the spa with relaxing full-body massages and soothing facials. After the fun is over, the whole family can relax in selected pet-friendly accommodations, rustic huts or mountain bungalows with ski-in / ski-out access – and children up to the age of 17 stay for free in winter and ski for free on weekdays.

Restaurants are equipped with HEPA air filtration, UV light filtering has been added throughout, and indoor covering is recommended for unvaccinated visitors.

n Cascade Mountain, W10441 Cascade Mountain Road, Portage, Wisconsin; 608-742-5588;

At Cascade Mountain, children up to the age of 12 ride for free with a paid adult ticket. That, plus the fact that it has some of the best fun parks and longest, well-groomed slopes in the Midwest, and being close to the Wisconsin Dells, makes the resort a one-stop shop for families looking to hit their winter vacation budget.

The resort underwent a few off-season updates in preparation for its 60th season, including newly lit terrain, making a total of 125 acres available for night skiing.

Face covering is not required for guests but is highly recommended, especially in crowded indoor spaces. The elevators will be loaded to full capacity and those who are uncomfortable driving with other people should let the attendant know and they will take care of accommodations. It is usually full, like most resorts during the holiday season, but skiers – especially the early risers – might find solace in the resort’s limit on day pass sales.

n Granite top, 227200 Snowbird Ave, Wausau, Wisconsin; (715) 845-2846;

The 68 runs and varied terrain of Granite Peak are what skiers would normally expect to find west near the Rockies. and by Midwestern standards, the 700 feet vertical drop gives the illusion that you may be really far from home.

The decline is by far the highest in Wisconsin and the third highest in the Midwest.

Frequent Chicago skiers will likely be worth the 275-mile hike to the resort’s 55 slopes and 225 acres (most for a Wisconsin resort), seven lifts including the only high-speed 6-pack lift in Wisconsin and an improved powerful snowmaking system priced at $ 2.5 million.

Unlike last year, Granite Peak is hoping to make things “as normal as possible” by not mandating masks for guests when skiing, chairlifting, or standing in line, but they hope skiers will learn about COVID. judge to the best of my knowledge and belief -19 security.

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