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14 Best Ski Resorts in the Midwest

Blessed with abundant snowfall, the Midwest is a great place to enjoy zipping downhill on powdery slopes. Even when there isn’t enough powder, snow-making machines help to ensure the slopes will be skiable. While there aren’t many that include lodging right on-site in this area of the country, you’ll find plenty of cozy accommodation options nearby if you want to spend the night. Michigan is home to quite a few of the top ski resorts in the Midwest, but you’ll find good options in Minnesota, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, and South Dakota too.

Lutsen Mountains Ski and Summer Resort - Lutsen, Minnesota Moon shining over Lutsen Mountains
Credit: Moon shining over Lutsen Mountains by Lutsen Mountains

Lutsen Mountains Ski and Summer Resort - Lutsen, Minnesota

For a fun winter weekend getaway in Minnesota, The Lutsen Mountains Ski and Summer Resort is the best when it comes to skiing and boarding in Minnesota. It’s the largest ski area in the Midwest with four interconnected mountains and 95 runs spread over 1000 acres overlooking Lake Superior, as well as hosting the only gondola in the region. You’ll enjoy spectacular views of Lake Superior from nearly every vantage point as well. It’s best for skiers and snowboarders who are just starting to learn the ropes, but there is some terrain for intermediates and experts. You’ll find some great resort accommodations within easy reach, including Caribou Highlands Lodge, less than a half-mile away from the slopes.

Sundown Mountain - Dubuque, Iowa Sundown Mountain Resort
Credit: Sundown Mountain Resort by Sundown Mountain Resort

Sundown Mountain - Dubuque, Iowa

In Dubuque, one of the best family vacation destinations in the Midwest, Sundown Mountain is split into two parks spread over 85 acres. There are 21 runs with a variety of terrain for all abilities and a vertical drop of 475 feet, although it’s best suited for intermediates. Snowboarders can take advantage of the half-pipe and a terrain park, and those who want to enjoy cross-country skiing will find trails for that, too. There’s a kids’ park facility for the young ones ages three through 11, along with skiing and snowboarding lessons for all ages and abilities. On-mountain dining options include everything from Molly’s Mountaintop Coffee, which serves a popular s’mores latte, to the Tips Up Food & Spirits bar and grill with two fireplaces to cozy up to and some great warming foods like bowls of hot chili. There are also two mountaintop lodges for accommodation.

Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort - Ironwood, Michigan Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Credit: Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort by Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort

Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort - Ironwood, Michigan

One of the favorites in the Upper Peninsula, Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort is just outside Ironwood, one of the top cross-country skiing destinations, and has something for every level of skier, spread across 250-plus skiable acres, with 45 named trails. You’ll find everything from bunny hills to black diamond routes like “Don’t Chute” and “Cannonball,” along with nine double chairlifts servicing the variety of routes. There are also two terrain parks, and with an average of more than 160 inches of snowfall each year, you can expect fantastic powder throughout the season. One of the standout features at this resort is the “Wine Huts,” which are ski-in, ski-out cabins for day use right on the hill featuring large outdoor decks and fireplaces or wood stoves that provide a perfect place to warm up and relax when you need a break from the slopes.

Giants Ridge - Biwabik, Minnesota Giants Ridge
Credit: Giants Ridge by Giants Ridge

Giants Ridge - Biwabik, Minnesota

In one of Minnesota’s most charming towns, Giants Ridge has been called the most underrated ski area in the Midwest, offering first-class terrain that’s often overlooked, nestled in the Northwoods region northwest of Duluth. It’s spread over 200 acres and offers 35 ski runs, two terrain parks, five chairlifts, and a veteran leadership team. Family-friendly, you’ll find something for everyone here, from skiing and boarding to tubing, snowshoeing, fat tire biking, and ice fishing. There’s a snowsports school for lessons and rentals, too, while top-notch accommodation can be found that includes everything from lodges and villa rentals to guest houses.

Perfect North Slopes - Lawrenceburg, Indiana Perfect North Slopes
Credit: Perfect North Slopes by Perfect North Slopes

Perfect North Slopes - Lawrenceburg, Indiana

Located in southeastern Indiana, not far from the borders of Ohio and Kentucky, Perfect North Slopes offers 100 skiable acres with 23 trails ranging from beginner to advanced and three parks. This was where Olympic-medal-winning freestyle skier Nick Goepper first learned to ski, and it’s a great option for those who live in Cincinnati, just a 30-minute drive away, or Indianapolis, about 90 minutes away. A local, family-owned business, when you want to switch things up, snow tubing is available too. You’ll find a wide range of accommodation options in Lawrenceburg, including affordable chain hotels.

Mad River Mountain - Zanesfield, Ohio Mad River Mountain
Credit: Mad River Mountain by Mad River Mountain

Mad River Mountain - Zanesfield, Ohio

Mad River Mountain is Ohio’s largest ski resort, with a 300-foot vertical drop providing fun on the slopes for decades. Former Austrian alpine sky racer Putzi Frandi worked here as an instructor after competing in the 1956 and 1960 Winter Olympics. Just a short drive from Columbus or Dayton, it also offers group and private lessons, while non-skiers can enjoy a great tubing park. There’s a lofted bar and grill that overlooks the terrain and a quick-serve cafeteria for slopeside dining, too.

Mount Bohemia - Mohawk, Michigan Mount Bohemia
Credit: Mount Bohemia by Mount Bohemia

Mount Bohemia - Mohawk, Michigan

Mount Bohemia is one of the best ski resorts in Michigan, catering to skiers and boarders who are looking for a high-octane experience with deep powder. There are no beginner “green” slopes and not even any grooming, only loads of natural snow courtesy of Mother Nature. It offers 900 feet of vertical with nearly all runs black diamond and a few that are even triple black. It’s located on the Keweenaw Peninsula, so for many, it will be out of the way, but it’s still more convenient for those who live in the state or nearby as compared to traveling all the way to the Rockies. The average annual snowfall here is about 273 inches, and there are two chairlifts that provide access to the 585 skiable acres of terrain. You’ll find several dining venues here, while overnight lodging includes everything from an inn to log cabin rentals and a hostel.

Cascade Mountain - Portage, Wisconsin Cascade Mountain
Credit: Cascade Mountain by Cascade Mountain

Cascade Mountain - Portage, Wisconsin

Cascade Mountain, the second-highest ski resort in Wisconsin, is located near Portage in the Wisconsin Dells, one of the top spots to visit near Canada’s border. It offers 47 trails that wind down through the trees with a 450-foot drop and 11 lifts that will get you back to the top quickly. There is also plenty for boarders, with multiple terrain parks featuring rails, jibs, jumps, and more. When you’re ready for a break from the slopes or the terrain parks, you might enjoy the tube park with tubes included in the ticket price. You’ll whiz down nearly 900 feet to the bottom, and then there’s a lift to get you back effortlessly. Night skiing is available, too.

Terry Peak Ski Area - Lead, South Dakota Terry Peak Ski Area
Credit: Terry Peak Ski Area by Terry Peak Ski Area

Terry Peak Ski Area - Lead, South Dakota

Terry Peak Ski Area is often referred to as “The Best Kept Secret in the Midwest.” Nestled in the beautiful Black Hills, it offers the highest lift service between the Rockies and the Alps while enjoying an annual average of 150 inches of snow. There are 1,100 feet of vertical, 29 trails, a triple chairlift, and three high-speed quad lifts, along with an impressive variety of terrain that includes a progressive terrain park. Rentals, group, and private lessons are available through The Snow Sports School, staffed by pros, while accommodation, bars, and restaurants are nearby. Plus, the historic western town of Deadwood is only a 15-minute drive away for all sorts of fun.

Big Snow Resort - Wakefield, Michigan Big Snow Resort - Wakefield, Michigan
Credit: Big Snow Resort - Wakefield, Michigan by buybigsnow.info

Big Snow Resort - Wakefield, Michigan

Big Snow Resort offers both lodging and skiing, with the resort encompassing two mountains, Blackjack and Indianhead, which are included with lift tickets. Indianhead has the larger skiable area, a higher base, greater vertical drop, and a terrain park with 30 runs and nine lifts. Half the runs are black diamonds, best for the advanced and experts. Blackjack offers 26 runs, six lifts, and two terrain parks, with most of the runs for beginners and intermediates. There’s a designated area for beginners next to the main lodge, too. Night skiing is available, while lodging options include everything from hotel rooms at the main Indianhead lodge to cozy village chalets and trailside condos. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, and bars at both mountains, including some venues that host live music.

Chestnut Mountain Resort - Galena, Illinois Chestnut Mountain Resort - Galena, Illinois
Credit: Chestnut Mountain Resort - Galena, Illinois by Chestnut Mountain Resort

Chestnut Mountain Resort - Galena, Illinois

Perched near the banks of the Mississippi River in one of best countryside getaway towns in the U.S., Chestnut Mountain Resort is the largest ski resort in the state, and it also includes its own hotel with an indoor pool and a restaurant serving surf-and-turf. It’s the best place to ski in Illinois, with 19 runs and a 475-foot drop, the highest vertical in the state. Beginners will find that it’s a great spot to learn to ski, but there are options for everyone, from the novice to experts, with black diamond runs. There are two quad chairs, four triple chairs, two conveyor lifts, and one surface lift to get you back up to the top. Snowboarders can enjoy the Far Side Terrain Park with two half-pipes and a quarter-pipe.

Boyne Mountain Resort - Boyne Falls, Michigan Boyne Mountain Resort - Boyne Falls, Michigan
Credit: Boyne Mountain Resort - Boyne Falls, Michigan by © Luke Wendling | Dreamstime.com

Boyne Mountain Resort - Boyne Falls, Michigan

Boyne Mountain Resort includes two mountains, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highland, each of which offers over 400 acres with 115 trails in total. Though it may be one of the top spa resorts in Michigan, it’s also one of the biggest ski resorts in the Midwest, with a 500-foot vertical drop and runs catering to every ability. Boyne Highlands includes a 1.25-mile trail, the longest ski run in Michigan. There’s plenty of snowmaking to ensure great powder, plus activities like snowshoeing and Nordic skiing are available, too. Equipment rentals and lessons are also on offer, making it easy for beginners to get started. You’ll find a wide range of dining and lodging options, making it easily doable for a weekend or longer trip, about a four-hour drive from Detroit near the northern end of the Lower Peninsula.

Granite Peak - Wausau, Wisconsin Granite Peak Ski Resort
Credit: Granite Peak Ski Resort by Granite Peak Ski Resort

Granite Peak - Wausau, Wisconsin

Located in Wausau, one of the top weekend getaway destinations in Wisconsin, Granite Peak is the favorite in Wisconsin and the largest, with 58 runs that drop down to 700-foot Rib Mountain. There are acres of beginner slopes, mile-long intermediate runs, and black-diamond runs for the experts, all served by five chair lifts, including two high-speed options. In addition to the outstanding skiing, there are four terrain parks with a wide range of bumps, jumps, rails, and jibs, along with top-notch snowmaking equipment to ensure 100 percent mountain coverage. Other notable features include the historic chalet deck with large glass windbreaks, outdoor fire pits, and tables. In the town of Wausau nearby, you’ll find many dining venues and accommodation.

Crystal Mountain - Thompsonville, Michigan Crystal Mountain
Credit: Crystal Mountain by Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain - Thompsonville, Michigan

Just a short drive from Lake Michigan, set on a crest above the town of Thompsonville, Crystal Mountain Ski Resort offers 59 runs spanning more than 79 miles with a wide range of options varying in difficulty from beginner to advanced. It’s a great place for families or groups of friends with varying levels of expertise while offering a lift to the peaks, dozens of interesting trails, and spectacular snowy wonderland scenery. There are three terrain areas, a learning area, and a lighted section for night skiing. Cross-country skiers can enjoy over 15 miles of terrain too. The lodging options are many, sleeping anywhere from two to 18 guests with everything from inn rooms to cottages, including some that are pet-friendly. No wonder it’s one of the top resorts in the country for family reunions, too.

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