The Midwest is well-equipped when it comes to snow. Mountains? Not so much.
Despite that, Wisconsin boasts 30 downhill ski and snowboard areas, the fourth largest number in the country, according to the state's tourism agency. Six are within a few hours' drive of Chicago.
Alpine Valley Resort in Elkhorn is the largest ski area in southern Wisconsin. It offers 20 trails ranging from bunny hills to mogul runs, 11 lifts, a terrain park for snowboarders and a ski school for newbies. The longest run is 2,500 feet and the vertical drop is 388 feet. Weekday lift tickets are $41 for beginners and $48 for access to all areas. Weekend and holiday rates are $52 and $58. Season passes are $858 for a family of two, and $150 for each additional family member.
Cascade Mountain Ski Area in Portage boasts 34 trails ranging from steep and challenging to long and relaxing. The ski area has 10 lifts, including a high-speed Mountain Express quad chairlift. The 30-acre terrain park has the only super-pipe in the Midwest, according to TravelWisconsin.com. (Check the website for 2012-2013 lift ticket prices, which were not available at press time.)
Devil's Head Resort near Baraboo is listed as one of the Midwest's 10 Best Ski Destinations by Ski Magazine. The area has 28 trails, a half-pipe, terrain park, 16 lifts, and a program for skiers with disabilities. Weekday lift tickets are $37 for kids 6-12 and $44 for ages 13 and up. Weekend and holiday lift tickets are $42 and $49. Season passes are $399 for kids 6-12, $449 for ages 13-59 and $175 for ages 60 and over. Kids 5 and under ski free with a paying adult.
Mountain Top Ski Area at Grand Geneva Resort has 18 runs, a terrain park, 10 kilometers of cross country trails and snowshoeing. A season pass for a family (two parents and up to four children, including full-time college students) is $1,199. Each additional child is $99. Friday-Monday and holiday lift tickets are $38 for kids 7-11 and $47 ages 12 and older. Tuesday-Thursday lift tickets are $23 and $28. Seniors 65 and up pay half price and kids 6 and under ski free with a paid adult.
Tyrol Basin, just west of Madison, is known nationally for its world-class half-pipe. The area has added a second half-pipe in addition to its 16 downhill runs supported by six lifts. Weekday lift tickets are just $12 for skiing from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. All-day lift tickets on weekends and holidays are $37 for kids 6-12 and 60 and over and $42 for ages 13-59. Kids 5 and under are free.
Wilmot Mountain is the closest ski area to Chicago, located just west of Kenosha. It has 25 trails, a half-pipe, terrain park and 11 lifts. For kids 4-8, Wilmot offers the Pied Piper Children's Program. (Check the website for 2012-2013 lift ticket prices, which were not available at press time.)
Cindy Richards is the mom of two who gets her muse from traveling the world, usually with kids in tow. She also writes for TravelingMom.com, where she also serves as editor.
See more of Cindy's stories here.