By Brian E. Clark
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Wisconsin boasts terrain park thrills for all levels of skiers and boarders. Check out the Badger State's most memorable runs and challenge yourself to try one this season!
The Devil’s Air Park run at Devil’s Head Resort near Merrimac includes numerous rails, slides, jumps and other so-called “features, hits and toys” that young, thrill-seeking skiers and snowboarders love.
Parts of the Devil’s Air, which flows into the Sidewinder run, are off the Quicksilver chairlift, so less adventurous skiers and boarders can watch daredevils throw tricks and catch big air off the jumps as they safely ride up the mountain.
Joe Vittengl, general manager of Devils Head, said ski areas once banned jumping on their runs. But the rules changed about 20 years ago, thanks in large part to the advent of snowboarding.
Many resorts built half pipes, which in many cases have been replaced with terrain parks. And these parks aren't just for snowboarders, either. With the advent of twin tip skis, which allows schussers to ski forward and backward, skiers jumped into halfpipes and terrain parks.
Here are some of Wisconsin’s other top slopes with rails, jumps and features:
If you want more than Silver Birch’s whoop-dee-do bumps, head for the Aspen terrain park. It runs top to bottom on Granite Peak's Aspen run with 11 features and a 15-foot jump.
At Tyrol Basin near Mount Horeb, the toughest run is Double Diamond on the West Ridge side of the resort. But what Tyrol is best known for, and what draws snowboarders and skiers from around the Midwest, is its expansive terrain park with numerous rails, jumps and other features that are spread out over the Tobel, Hans Down and the Barnyard runs.
Mt. La Crosse
For the steepest slope in Wisconsin, go to Mt. La Crosse in the bluffs above the Mississippi River.
The “Damnation” run is so precipitous, skiers have been known to cuss when they stand at the top (hence the name). The slope is used for the state ski championships and more than a few racers have gotten the yips at its top. Mt. La Crosse also claims the longest run in the state with the 5,300-foot-long Mileaway run.
The resort has two terrain parks: The one off the Applebottom Chair is for beginners, while the “Call It Quits” park off the Spotlight chairlift is for intermediates and experts. Combined, the two parks have about a dozen features. For die-hard terrain park riders, the resort has Friday night rail jam competitions during the season.
It’s also popular with the younger set because it has four terrain parks with as many as two dozen features. The Cottontail Trail is home to the “progressive” park for novices, while the intermediate Boarderland Park uses logs and natural features. The Doc Park, which has its own dedicated rope tow, is for experts and the North Wall Park - also for experts - takes up half of the North Wall run.
Wilmot Mountain, in Kenosha County down on the Illinois border, has two terrain parks: The Gully Terrain Park is nestled in between Chair 6 and 7 and is a number of hips, bonks and off-cambere rails and boxes. The Rope Terrain Park is on the edge of the resort and can be reached from Chair 7 and its own double high-speed rope tow. It has numerous features with names like rainbow, z rail, down donkey and shark fin, as well as stair sets.
At Whitecap Mountain - near Upson in northern Wisconsin’s Penokee Range, the Dragon and St. George runs are the most challenging slopes for skiers and boarders. But those who like terrain parks head for Bremer Avenue on the Grindelwald run, which has 30-plus rails, hits and other “toys,” said spokesman Michael Baer.
After you're done at the slopes, warm up at one of these outdoor ski resort fire pits.