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XMas <-> New Year's skiing around Chicago

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Like every year, my wife and I will be visiting her family in Chicago for Christmas -- this year we'll be there from Dec. 23 through Jan. 1, and I was thinking of maybe arranging a ski trip for the whole family (about 8-12 people).
  1. Due to time constraints, we'd probably go for two days (one night) only, midweek.
  2. We'd probably not want to drive any more than 2-3 hours one-way from Chicago south suburbs (Tinley Park).
  3. Most of the family has never skied, or are very beginner skiers (just "graduated" from the bunny hill) -- so an abundance of gentle groomers is preferred over hard blacks.
  4. A decent ski school would be a bonus.
  5. Some may not even want to ski at all, so the presence of non-skiing activities (maybe shopping, ice-skating, sleigh-rides, whatever else) will be great.
So I was wondering, are there any easily-accessible, beginner-friendly, family-friendly areas that will be open during that week between Christmas and New Year's?

Any online resources I can look at (haven't been able to find much) to help make some decisions? Any other advice/suggestions?

Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 9

Give these a try!

I love approximately 20 minutes west of Tinley Park in Shorewood. From my neck of the woods you've got about three or four options. The first is Alpine Valley (www.alpinevalleyresort.com) which would take you about two hours to get there. It's a smaller hill but they've got two high speed quads. One for the beginner area and another for the other side of the hill. It's approximately 100 miles for me. There is another hill called Wilmot (www.wilmotmountain.com that is a little closer than Alpine Valley. I skied there a few times when my daughter was learning to ski. This might save you about 20 minutes of travel time. The other two options are either Devils Head (www.devilsheadresort.com) or Cascade Mountain (www.cascademountain.com). It takes me a little over three hours to get to each of these hills. From my point of view they're about equal. Devils Head is about 10 minutes off the highway and Cascade is right on the highway. Cascade has a high speed lift and Devils Head does not. One thing of interest would be Cascade, this year they are offering skiing for free for children under 12 I believe with a paid adult lift ticket. I don't know how this will impact the crowds or not.

Let me know if I can help in any other way!

post #3 of 9
question is how far r u willing 2 go 2 ski or do u want a close place
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
IL_Skier, many thanks for the info. I'll definitely look into those. Question: why do both Alpine Valley and Wilmot Mountain say they are closed? Is it only temporary? Will that last weekend in Dec. also be iffy in terms of opening or conditions?

I guess Devils Head and Cascade would be at the limit of driving distance. The reason being that since many of the family members are not skiers (yet!), I don't know if it would be worth it to drive far away and then find out that they don't like it. Plus, we'd be going for only two days, so don't want to spend too much time in the car.

Alpine Valley and Wilmot seem to be pretty good close options. I'll have to float the idea of Devils Head and Cascade to see if the others are up for a longer drive.
post #5 of 9
devils and cascade r nicer but r further...alpine over wilmont in my opinion. OO and its only bad weather right now that is keep alpine and wilmont closed...over the holidays they will both be open and be running 2 there max

help that is of help
post #6 of 9
Wilmot is too crowded overall snow conditions are marginal at best at any time.. Advantage to Devil's Head is that they have a resort on premises with a resturant, bar, hotel and indoor pool. There is no need to drive to a motel from the Ski Hill. Something to consider if a person in your group does not want to ski. Alpine valley has a hotel and resturant also but no pool. The runs are not as varried. Cascade you would have to stay at a hotel and travel to the hill. It might be worth the drive to Cascade or Devil's Head because they are both larger hills and do offer more ammenities than Alpine or Wilmot.
post #7 of 9
Alpine Valley and Wilmot are closed right now due to the warm weather and rain we had on Sunday. They'll be back open soon. I did forget one other place in Lake Geneva slightly south of Alpine VAlley. It's Grand Geneva (http://www.grandgeneva.com/recreatio...s_weather.asp). I've never skied there because it's smaller than Alpine Valley. I think there is a possibility that Alpine Valley does have a pool. It's also located near Lake Geneva WI for the non-skiers to shop etc. Devils Head as other posters have stated is better for the non skiing fans in the group as well. Travel times would be 2 hours to AV and Wilmot and 3 1/2 to DH and CAscade. You are also close to the Wisconson Dells for water parks etc. There are a bunch of water park hotels if that would be of interest to you!
post #8 of 9

Chestnut Mountain Resort

I also like to add Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena, IL (www.chestnutmtn.com). It's pretty small with very little advanced terrain but has pretty good beginner and intermediate terrain for the Midwest and a pretty good ski school. They also have ski in/ski out lodging. Galena has a historic, pretty downtown area with lots of antique shopping and good restaurants. It'll probably take you around 3 1/2 hours to get there from the south suburbs.
post #9 of 9
There are a lot of flights out of Chicago to Denver
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