Family friendly terrain, ski and snowboard teaching programs, and a good variety of advanced and expert terrain. Here are my top five recommendations for ski resorts in the Midwest to keep a family of differing abilities happy.
Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, located a little over a half-hour apart, offers an interchangeable lift pass good at both resorts. Between the two there are over 115 runs, some up to a mile in length; 11 terrain parks; and 18 lifts. From the steep front face runs to the gentler outer runs the skiing and riding will please all levels of skiers and riders. Both offer large beginner and teaching areas with their own lifts, including carpet lifts and 30-acres of free beginner terrain. There are winter horseback tours, multiple zipline courses at both resorts, cross country trails, and the Avalanche Indoor Waterpark at the Mountain. You won’t lack for activities.
Crystal Mountain is one of the top family resorts in the Heartland, according to Parent's magazine, which calls it one of the "Ten Best Winter Resorts for Families in the nation.” It said, “Whether you're interested in skiing or S'mores, an ice rink or heated pool, there was something for all family members." There are 58 runs, glades, three terrain parks, eight lifts, cross country trails and fat tire biking. The compact village puts lifts, ski school, condos and restaurants within an easy, five-minute walk.
Chestnut Mountain, located high above the Mississippi River, offers a 475-foot vertical drop, 19 trails, five chairlifts and three surface tows, and one of the largest terrain parks in the Heartland. The seven-acre Farside Terrain Park has more than 25 rails and features and is served by its own triple chair lift. A variety of trails ranging from easy to advance offer stunning views of the mile-wide river as they cascade down the rocky bluff. The beginner area, located on the top of the ski hill with its own chairlift and carpet lift, is easy to keep track of family members.
Granite Peak offers three high-speed lifts, 80 trails and a 700-foot vertical drop. It’s one of the Heartland’s largest ski areas. Base facilities include the historic Tenth Mountain Chalet, the 10,000-square-foot Sundance Chalet, and an outside patio area with overhead heaters. The terrain parks have been rated among the best in the Midwest. The large beginner area with a carpet lift offers the Enchanted Forest Trail with animal figures. Rocky chutes on the upper mountain attract expert skiers. Scenic trails, some stretching a mile-and-a-half in length, meander down the mountainside. There’s something for all family members.