From Bunny to Black Diamond, Wisconsin Downhill Skiing
Last Updated: 2/24/2014
With nearly thirty ski and snowboard resorts sprinkled throughout the state, Wisconsin skiing offers something for every boarder and downhill enthusiast. Here's an insider's peek at some of the best Wisconsin has to offer.
After years of investment and enhancement, Granite Peak near Wausau is now one of the largest ski areas in the Midwest. The resort grooms 75 runs spread across 400 acres of north-facing slope with a 700-foot vertical drop - the tallest ski slope in the state. Seven new lifts service the mountain, including a high-speed six-person Comet Express and a Sun Kid Wonder Carpet. Five-hundred snow guns keep the runs here covered in white, while an excellent terrain park keeps the snowboarders happy. If you need a break from the slopes, grab a bite at the Sundance Chalet and Grill or the Historic Stone Chalet at the base of the mountain. Warm up in the lounge area, located in the uptairs of the Historic Stone Chalet, where you can enjoy the company of family, friends or fellow skiers as you relax by the roaring fire.
Named one of Ski Magazine's "10 Best Ski Destinations," Devil's Head Resort features 30 trails on 300 acres, a half pipe and terrain park supported by 9 lifts including 3 doubles, a triple, 5 quads, and a wonder carpet. If the thought of wide-open runs has you salivating, night skiing at Devil's Head will be right up your alley. For just $16 on Thursday nights you can ski or board 'til you drop. If the hungries catch you on the slopes, Smokies Restaurant on the hill has a huge circular fireplace, a great view of the half pipe and terrain park, and a tasty menu. Nearby, the Avalanche Bar & Grill is popular with the cocktail crowd. The resort offers a variety of lodging options from condos to suites to rooms in the inn. Guest amenities include an indoor pool, sauna, game room, a café and two more restaurants - all less than 30 seconds from the chair lifts.
Whitecap is a northern Wisconsin resort with a series of interconnected peaks that make it skiing as "big" as any Colorado mountain resort. A trio of three mountains - Whitecap, Eagle's Nest and Thunderhead - present 43 trails on some of the most sustained terrain in Wisconsin. Stay aboard the two-seater lift (or triple and quad lifts) as you span the valley and get a sense of everything Whitecap has to offer. You'll find the lodge here to be cozy and eclectic; think supper club turned ski resort and you've got a pretty good idea of Whitecap's unique inside vibe. The wine hut is a prime example: located at the bottom of Thunderhead Mountain, this local hangout with a wood burning stove that's always blazing offers stellar concoctions sure to warm you up. The quarters are tight, but the crowd is always friendly. Stay on-site with rooms, suites and condos - there's even a chalet that sleeps forty.
Located four miles northwest of Mount Horeb and just thirty minutes from Madison, Tyrol attracts a fairly even split of boarders and skiers. Overall, the terrain park here is second to none. Known nationally for its world-class half-pipe, Tyrol has added a second half-pipe to accompany its 17 downhill runs. Its tree-lined slopes, challenging terrain park and long mogul runs are supported by six lifts. Its equipment rental, ski shop, ticket office and ski school are housed in a cluster of smaller buildings with a Swiss motif, making you feel you're skiing the Alps. Tyrol's lodge, converted from an old dairy barn, is an ideal place to rest, unwind, spin tall tales or just grab a quick bite to eat. The bar and front deck are a great place to watch the action on the slopes.
From high atop a Mississippi River bluff, Mount La Crosse takes full advantage of 516 feet of elevation - the second largest vertical drop among Wisconsin ski resorts. The river views are spectacular, as are the hill's 18 trails and terrain park serviced by three double chairlifts. Although Mount La Crosse claims the longest run in Wisconsin (Mileaway at 5,300 feet), it would be remise not to note that Granite Peak in Wausau and Cascade in Portage offer a 5,300-foot run as well. La Crosse also claims the Midwest's steepest run on a double-black diamond trail aptly named "Damnation!" The resort chalet is warm and cozy with food service, a complete ski shop, rental and repair shop, and an award-winning bar, all close to the slopes and handy to parking.
Cascade caters to families with a very enlightened policy that allows children 12-and-under to ski free with a paying adult. Their 36 runs range from bunny to black diamond and are serviced by three quad, three triple, and two double chair lifts. There's also an excellent tubing facility with seven chutes and 800-foot runs serviced by a magic carpet that takes tubers effortlessly up the 90-foot hill. When the kids get hungry, The Daisy - an on-hill snack bar - serves fast food of all description as well as killer pizza with the best views of the slopes and easy ski-in, ski-out convenience. The hill's original chalet is a great place to grab a warm drink or a cocktail while you dry out beside the fireplace. Combine all this kids' stuff with the indoor waterparks of Wisconsin Dells just 15 minutes down the highway and you've got an action-packed winter getaway the whole family will adore.This entry was posted in Things to Do