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From The City To The Slopes

Chestnut-Mountain-Facebook-image_1200x800 A skier heads down the Chestnut Mountain slope towards Mississippi River below.

Here are five Midwest cities with day trip worthy ski areas, all within three hours or less. Arriving mid-week you avoid large weekend crowds. Get an early start and enjoy some uncrowded slope time.

Twin City snowsports enthusiasts have about a two-hour drive to Spirit Mountain in Duluth. With its big 700-foot vertical, variety of runs, one of the Midwest’s best terrain parks, Minnesota’s only high-speed lift, and its jaw-dropping views of the city, harbor, and Lake Superior, a Midwest day trip doesn’t get much better.

For Chicagoland skiers, Chestnut Mountain overlooking the Mississippi River, near Galena, Illinois, is a good choice. It offers the biggest vertical, 475 feet, stunning scenery and the best variety of runs within a three-hour drive of the Windy City. Twenty runs cut through rocky bluffs tumbling down to the river. Add in some of the best steep in the Tri-State Region, the seven-acre Far Side Terrain Park, and a beginner area located on top of the Mountain.

Milwaukee and Madison skiers have less than three hours to reach one of the Heartland’s largest ski areas, and Granite Peak is well worth the drive. Located on one of the highest mountains in the Badger State it rises over 700 feet above the city of Wausau. They offer 74 runs that cascade down the mountain face, five terrain parks, and seven chairlifts, including three high-speed. The variety of runs range from long cruisers and glades to short cliff drops on top of the mountain.

In Michigan, Lansing and Grand Rapids skiers have around a two-hour drive and Ann Arbor about three to reach Caberfae Peaks. Stashed in the highlands west of Cadillac, it’s their closest “up north” ski resort with a nearly 500-foot vertical. Home to the Lower Peninsula’s highest lift-served peaks it looks out over an expansive National Forest. Five lifts service 34 runs, two terrain parks, and there are even 25-acres of backcountry skiing.

Perfect North Slopes in southern Indiana is less than a half-hour from Cincinnati and less than two hours from Louisville, Lexington, and Indianapolis. It’s about as close to a northern ski area as you’ll find in the lower Heartland. This day trip worthy area boasts a 400-foot vertical. With 5 chair lifts, 6 carpet lifts, 22 trails and 23terrain parks you'll find a mix of diverse terrain with something for everyone, and mid-week you’ll avoid huge weekend crowds. They also have one of the Heartland’s largest snow tubing sites.

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