Best Ski Hills in the Midwest

Hit the slopes at the top 13 ski destinations in Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin

 

Photo by Ryan Taylor

The rush of a high-speed trip down a mountain is a recommended cure for winter cabin fever. Before booking a flight to Colorado or Lake Tahoe, consider the options that are right here in the Upper Midwest. Ranging from the wild ride of Mount Bohemia’s ungroomed runs to the stirring North Shore beauty of Lutsen, the options for Midwestern ski trips are impressive for families hitting the slopes for the first time up to experts carving down the mountain.

Minnesota

Afton Alps, Hastings

Casual metro-based skiers drive just 40 minutes east for these 300 skiable acres nestled among Afton’s bluffs. The resort’s 52 trails and four terrain parks keep families of all ages and abilities entertained. Its small-town feel complements the St. Croix Valley’s quaint lodging, dining, and sightseeing perks.

Giants Ridge, Biwabik

Most of the 35 runs at this Iron Range resort are diligently groomed and friendly to families—with a couple left alone for more adventurous skiers (Cortina and Rockface). Done with the 500 vertical feet of slopage? Check out nearly 40 miles of cross-country trails, too, or check into the lodge for the restaurant, bar, spa, and arcade.

Lutsen Mountains, Lutsen

Variety is an undeniable asset for Lutsen’s four mountains—Moose, Mystery, Ullr, and Eagle—totaling 95 runs and 1,000 skiable acres. Plus, the 825 vertical is serious. Lodging, dining, and live entertainment options are in high supply and the North Shore region is brimming with wildlife and winter activities for an endlessly customizable experience.

Spirit Mountain, Duluth

This is the mountain that makes Duluth a ski town—and a multifaceted outdoor destination through winter. Its 700 vertical feet offer gorgeous views of Lake Superior and downtown. Speed to the top of 22 runs using the new lift, try tubing or fat biking, and take advantage of Duluth’s renowned lodging, dining, and entertainment options.

Skier wearing yellow jacket jumping off a rock at Mount Bohemia, a ski hill in Michigan known for its ungroomed trails

Photo courtesy Mount Bohemia

Michigan

Big Snow Resort, Wakefield

One lift ticket provides access to both Indianhead (638 vertical feet) and Blackjack (490 vertical feet) Mountains, which combine for 56 trails over 400 skiable acres. Both mountains offer up myriad non-ski options for families, including the Yeti Snow Fort at Blackjack and over 70 miles of snowmobile trails.

Boyne Highlands, Harbor Springs

Touting North Peak Pass as the longest ski run in Michigan at 1.25 miles, 552 feet of vertical drop, and 55 runs in all, this resort is accessible to skiers of all skill levels. For aches of all sorts after an attempt at double-black-diamond The Dark Side, the Spa at Boyne Highlands is on site with a full line of therapeutic services.

Boyne Mountain, Boyne Falls

This family-friendly destination offers up 60 trails and 500 vertical feet, but skiing is only one of many regional resort attractions for winter. There’s Avalanche Bay—Michigan’s largest indoor waterpark—35 kilometers of cross-country ski trails, as well as snowshoeing, ice skating, fat biking, and plenty more.   

Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville

A fine choice for intermediates and families with 70 percent of its terrain rated either blue or green, Crystal has 375 feet of vertical and 58 downhill slopes. After a day on the snow, the base facilities offer spa, dining, shopping, and ample lodging options.

Mount Bohemia, Lac La Belle

A thrill-seeker’s paradise near the tip of the Keweenaw Peninsula, this remote resort boasts an average of 270 inches of deep, ungroomed snow each winter and 625 acres of terrain to explore. Lodging and off-slope comforts exist, but the main attraction is the 900 feet of vertical drop, tops in the Midwest.

Three skiiers head down the mountain at Big Snow Resort in Wisconsin. Views of the snow-covered hills in the background.

Photo courtesy Big Snow Resort

Wisconsin

Cascade Mountain, Portage

Literally right next to I-90, this family destination with 47 runs and 460 vertical feet is accessible and versatile. Mogul Monster’s 292-foot drop awaits the most experienced skiers. A 900-foot snow tubing course is also on site.

Devil’s Head Resort, Merrimac

Set amid the glacier-formed Baraboo Bluffs northwest of Madison, this resort provides 500 feet of vertical rise. The 30 runs represent all skill levels—including the speedy double-black Outer Limits—and the longest run spans 1.5 miles.

Granite Peak, Wausau

Hugged between the city of Wausau and Rib Mountain State Park, Granite Peak provides great skiing and a wealth of amenities. With 700 vertical feet and 75 runs, the resort towers over all other destinations in the state.

Mt. La Crosse, La Crosse

With a 361-foot drop over a quarter mile, the double-black-diamond Damnation run at Mt. La Crosse has earned a reputation as one of the Midwest’s premier challenges. While it isn’t the largest ski destination overall, Mt. La Crosse still offers a fun day on the slopes with 18 runs and a 516-foot vertical.

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