DerKomisar

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Just got my kids (8 & 10) and wife started skiing this past winter and they enjoyed the experience. I was able to get back to skiing after 10+ years away too and am looking already to plan a couple local trips next year.

We live in the NW suburbs of Chicago and skied at Wilmot, Alpine, and Granite Peak. We probably will add Chestnut and Cascade next sease for a couple overnight or day trips, but wanted to plan something over spring break (late March '19). We figured instead of dealing with airfare, we'd just drive to either Boyne or Crystal and spend our money on food, fuel, rooms, and lift tixs.

Have never been to either place and wanted to see if anyone had recommendations for either place (or others?)

Thanks for any advice!
 

Nathanvg

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How good of skiers are your kids? Are you skiing weekdays or weekend days? I've skied almost all of the Midwest ski areas and they are fun but don't set your expectations too high. Indianhead area (5 ski areas) and boyne area (3 ski areas) are the top destinations for most. Devils head and cascade are cool for a short trip as is chestut and sundown but they are a step down in size and run length.
 

Jenny

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Personally, I'm not fond of the Boynes. Much prefer Nub's Nob, and would choose Crystal Mountain, too. But Nub's is the favorite. However, it doesn’t have on-site lodging, like the others do.
 
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DerKomisar

DerKomisar

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How good of skiers are your kids? Are you skiing weekdays or weekend days? I've skied almost all of the Midwest ski areas and they are fun but don't set your expectations too high. Indianhead area (5 ski areas) and boyne area (3 ski areas) are the top destinations for most. Devils head and cascade are cool for a short trip as is chestut and sundown but they are a step down in size and run length.
Kids are 8 and 10, just started skiing this past year so still getting comfortable. We're hoping to make it a long weekend sometime, maybe in early Feb or late March next year.

We've hit Wilmot, Cascade, Granite Peak a bunch this past season and enjoyed what they had to offer. Plan on trying out Chestnut since it's a couple hours away.

Also thinking of trying to convince wife to take family on a ski vacation out east or west. Thinking someplace like Stowe, Park City, etc so we can experience some destination skiing and give them some alternative winter activities if they get their fill on ski time (and so I can keep skiing).

Thanks for all the insight and ideas.

Seems like Crystal or Indianhead/Big Snow good options for local long weekend trip.
 

Dwight

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I would also include Whitecap. New owners at end of last season and safety improvements happened right away. Probably best deals on ski/stay packages too.

In my opinion Whitecap has the best terrain in the Midwest. Also great for families with different skill levels. You can ride the same lift and each take a different run down according to skill and fun factor. https://www.facebook.com/SkiWhitecap/
 

Nathanvg

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Kids are 8 and 10, just started skiing this past year so still getting comfortable. We're hoping to make it a long weekend sometime, maybe in early Feb or late March next year.

We've hit Wilmot, Cascade, Granite Peak a bunch this past season and enjoyed what they had to offer. Plan on trying out Chestnut since it's a couple hours away.

Also thinking of trying to convince wife to take family on a ski vacation out east or west. Thinking someplace like Stowe, Park City, etc so we can experience some destination skiing and give them some alternative winter activities if they get their fill on ski time (and so I can keep skiing).

Thanks for all the insight and ideas.

Seems like Crystal or Indianhead/Big Snow good options for local long weekend trip.
Hmm, there are lots of good options for a long Midwest weekend. A few thoughts:
  • Devils head should be on the top of our list since it's close. It has long runs that are not very steep which is a good fit for the kids. It has one steep run for you.
  • Indianhead has even longer runs most of which are mellow. Indianhead also has 200" of natural snowfall (4x more than WI) which makes for better conditions. Big Powderhorn and Blackjack are just a few miles away so easy to mix up the place to ski each day. Whitecap is 30 minutes away and has a very different ski experience with multiple mountains and great scenery. All places are inexpensive. Lodging is basic in this remote area.
  • I would NOT recommend crystal. It has nice lodging but the runs are shorter than Cascade.
  • Boyne has two mountains. Both are well run and have modern amenities. Natural snowfall is about 150" so conditions are very good. Staying slope side is very convenient at both.
  • Boyne Mt has some good green runs and good black but not a lot in between. It also has an indoor water park that could be a big hit with the kids.
  • Boyne Highlands has long runs with a good mix of all types. A good fit. Heated outdoor pools and hot tubs but no water park (30 minutes to Boyne Mt.) Nubs Knob is next door and has good skiing too.
  • Chestnut is worth a visit but it's not as big as Devils Head or Cascade.
 
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DerKomisar

DerKomisar

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Awesome tips and very much appreciated. We might reconsider making a trip to lower MI and head to the UP.

We also had Chestnut on our radar and might make that happen for an overnight trip sometime.

My grandparents lived in Iron Mountain and I learned to ski many winters on Pine Mountain and May look to get a day there for old time sakes. It’d be cool to be there during a ski jump event.

Did anyone have any experience, recommendations with taking a family out west or east? Read some good things about Park City, Keystone, and Stowe, thinking of concentrating the on these. Tips? Thoughts?

Thanks again.

Never too early to think about next season, just stopped by a local ski shop having a tent sale. Funny how a good deal makes one justify a purchase.
 

pete

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I like Chestnut but it can get really crowded depending on weekend.

My kids skied there and Granite and made commentt that folks at granite percentage wise looked fare more in control. CHESTNUT seamed to have far more beginners with limited control, IMHO.

You flying with family out west? Presumed so but if not dynamics are different.

SPRING break can get pretty crowded
 
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DerKomisar

DerKomisar

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Thanks Pete!

IIt seems the further out one drives North the more dedicated skiing crowd seem to be based on a couple recent trips versus places like Wilmot. The Granite Peak folks seemed very friendly and had good skill away from natural beginner slopes (a couple of my early wipeouts notwithstanding and unknowingly taking my daughter over to an expert side of the hill only to have a very hospitable worker drive her back over to a more familiar lift). While we were hanging at the lodge, we ran into a number of local/regulars who freely offered advice and insight.

Looking to fly out someplace pre/post spring break to avoid some of the chaos and expense of air/hotel prices at peak demand. That's what lead me to think driving someplace within 4-7 hours might make sense versus paying for airfare during spring break. Sounds like Crystal Mountain might not be the resort in the Midwest that I was hoping and maybe we'll focus on places like Indianhead, etc,

In terms of getting out west or east, it's still up for grabs- but if we could snag a deal at a place like Park City, Keystone, and Stowe we might pull the trigger sooner than later. Otherwise, I'll keep my eye open and maybe even look to see what deals might be had at the local ski show in October. I think they usually have it third weekend in October in Schaumburg.
 

Nathanvg

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Did anyone have any experience, recommendations with taking a family out west or east?
That's a very open ended question. From Chicago, it really doesn't make sense to go east. The west is much better. There are 3 main types of western trips:

1. Big areas near a major airport
2. Big areas not near a major airport
3. Small ski areas

You mentioned several ski areas in category 1. There areas are well known and they're some of the busiest ski areas. IMO, they are not the best options for inexperienced skiers and young kids.

Category 2 are much better experiences once you get there. For most people, this means flying to a major airport and either connecting or driving 3+ hours. Since you're in Chicago, you have direct flight options to small airports like Aspen/snowmass, Montrose (telluride), Bozmen (big Sky), etc. All of these are good options with the only downside being price.

Category 3 ski areas are not as well known but are still major ski areas way bigger than what you find in the Midwest. They're focused on beginner and intermediate skiing which fits your family well. They're typically very economical and not crowded. A few options to look into: Granby, Cooper, Sunshine, Monarch all in CO.

My recommendation is a trip to a category 3 ski area.
 

Dwight

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You mentioned Wilmot. Does it make sense to get a family epic pass for Wilmot and then out West?
 

David D

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I would also include Whitecap. New owners at end of last season and safety improvements happened right away. Probably best deals on ski/stay packages too.

In my opinion Whitecap has the best terrain in the Midwest. Also great for families with different skill levels. You can ride the same lift and each take a different run down according to skill and fun factor. https://www.facebook.com/SkiWhitecap/
Thanks Dwight for the great words re Whitecap. We have great plans for the place and I look forward to sharing info with the fellow skiers here and I am happy to answer any questions. Thanks again, David
 

Dwight

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Thanks Dwight for the great words re Whitecap. We have great plans for the place and I look forward to sharing info with the fellow skiers here and I am happy to answer any questions. Thanks again, David
Glad to see you here David.

My family loves Whitecap, I just wouldn't allow them to go there recently do to lifts. As a ski patroller, I couldn't in good conscience go there.
Really hoping for the best there. Will come back for sure.
 

David D

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Glad to see you here David.

My family loves Whitecap, I just wouldn't allow them to go there recently do to lifts. As a ski patroller, I couldn't in good conscience go there.
Really hoping for the best there. Will come back for sure.
Thanks Dwight. I understand your reasons as they were shared by many people I spoke with. Lifts are good though with exception of main chair. Hoping to replace it yet this summer. A few NSP came out towards the end of season once they heard there was a change here. Look forward to meeting skiers when they come out and answering any questions! Thanks again.
 
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