The Indy Pass for Heartland skiers and riders, with the new ski areas that have joined, is a great choice. Many of the ski areas and resorts are located near each other, which presents an excellent opportunity for several multi-day road trips across the Heartland.
Many buy a season pass for convenience at a ski area near them and that they enjoy skiing or riding, which is fine. If you like to visit a variety of ski areas throughout the season rather than just staying with one you might consider purchasing the Indy Pass, which offers the most choices of any multiple ski area pass in the Midwest. It's good at 30 ski areas scattered across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and South Dakota.
Several of the ski areas are grouped within easy driving distance of each other, which means you can take road trips to visit two or three different resorts over a week long trip. There are trips like that in northwestern Lower Michigan, Upper Michigan, northern Wisconsin and Minnesota around the Great Lakes. The Indy Pass is also good at three of the Heartland's largest ski resorts, Lutsen Mountains, near a 900 foot vertical in the Gopher State, Granite Peak, at 700 feet, in the Badger State, and Terry Peak, over a 1,000 feet, in South Dakota's Black Hills.
The pass is currently on sale through November at $329 for adults and $149 children for the regular Indy Pass that does have blackout dates at some of the areas. The Indy+ Pass is $429 adults and $199 children with no blackout dates. The pass is good for two free days of skiing or snowboarding at each ski area and 25% off the daily rate for a third day on the slopes. Once your Indy Pass has been registered you simply go to the ticket window, get your lift ticket with your driver's license or photo ID for each day you wish to ski or ride.
For Midwest road trips it doesn't get any easier to combine ski areas for easy access and multiple days of skiing and riding. Of course it is also good at 70 other ski areas across the Lower 48, which means it’s easier than ever to maximize both your turns and your season.
Big Snow is actually two older Midwestern ski resorts, Indianhead and Black Jack operated as one resort under one owner that are less than a mile apart across a valley from each other. It's the largest ski area in the UP. Indianhead has a 638-foot vertical and Blackjack is 490 feet. Skinner has already announced he is changing the name from Big Snow to Snowriver Mountain Resort, and the two historic base areas will be renamed for the rivers flowing through the resort, Black River Basin for Blackjack and Jackson Creek Summit for Indianhead. The two areas provide 400-acres for snowsports with the possibility of expanding to 500-acres.
Both ski areas are antiquated with old Riblet chairlifts and base lodges that need a lot of updating. Jackson Creek has five chairlifts and Black River has four. Both offer lodging and a hotel is located at the top of Jackson Creek, which is an upside-down resort with its base area on top as you drive in. Look for big changes in the future, including tying the two ski areas together in the valley with a connecting lift so they won't have to run a shuttle between them. A single lift ticket is good at both locations.
When Skinner purchased Granite Peak it was a rundown rustic ski area with a big vertical, 700 feet, and a lot of promise. The old area, called Rib Mountain didn't even get to the top. In less than two decades he transformed it into one of the largest in the Midwest adding more terrain, trails, high-speed lifts and creating a vibrant new base area. Lutsen Mountains is the largest ski resort in the Heartland operating off four mountain peaks with an 860-foot vertical and the only gondola mid-America.
All three resorts are now operated as the Midwest Family Ski Resorts, which was created by Skinner and his daughter Charlotte Skinner, who joined her father after graduating from Columbia University and gaining finance experience through public technology companies she worked for. The Midwest Family Ski Resorts offers what they call the Legendary Pass, which offered unlimited skiing and snowboarding at Lutsen and Granite Peak last season. Snowriver Mountain Resort is being added for the 2022/23 season. The Legendary Pass is currently on sale for $899. All three resorts are also members of the Indy Pass.
It's that time of year when the 2022/23 season passes are going on sale, and at the lowest price point before they start going up in a month or two. If you are a season pass holder now is the time to think about renewing, and if not maybe you want to consider your best option for next winter.