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Picking a Mid-West Resort for a Get-A-Way

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

My friends and I from Indianapolis, Indiana are looking for the best resort for a ski trip.  I was hoping the knowledgeable folks here would have some input.

Here are our judging factors, in this order:

1. Within 7.5 hours driving from Carmel, IN
2. Taller mountain/longer runs
3. Enjoyable lounge/bar area
4. Lodging or near by hotels

Here are some of the ones we've come up with.  We're thinking resort more than just ski hill and don't really want to stay in Indiana for the trip so Perfect North is probably out of the running.

Name    State    Travel Time
Perfect North    IN    1:48:00
Mt Holley    MI    4:59:00
Pine Knob    MI    5:10:00
Cascade Mountain    WI    5:36:00
Devilshead    WI    5:49:00
Chestnut Mountain    IL    6:10:00
Caberfae Peaks    MI    6:31:00
Hidden Valley    PA    6:34:00
Seven Springs    PA    6:36:00
Sundown Mountain    IA    6:48:00
Crystal Mountain    MI    6:57:00
Winter Place    WV    7:02:00
Granite Peak    WI    7:11:00
Shanty Creek    MI    7:25:00

Many thanks!
post #2 of 19
Not sure of the travel times...but don't leave www.holidayvalley.com/ off your list.
post #3 of 19
For just about 30 minutes further you can include Boyne Mt and Highlands as well as Nub's Nob up in northern Michigan. Not too much more vertical than a Perfect North but a lot more runs and better lifts I understand.
post #4 of 19
Of the ones you listed I would suggest Devils Head. Pretty big resort with lots of runs, the blues and blacks are a good steady pitch all the way down (unlike nearby Cascade which is flat on top and steep on the bottom, and Granite Peak which is steep on top and flat on bottom). There's some nice long greens too if there are beginners in your group. You also have Cascade within 15-20 minutes so you could ski there too if you get bored. Cascade is nice too, a few steep runs, mogul run is better than Devilshead, I believe they have a glade run now too.

As far as nightlife and hotels, DevilsHead is also set up more like a resort than a local's ski hill. There's a couple nice bars and restaurants slope-side, and you can stay at the mountain too (not quite ski in/out but still easy walking distance). If you want cheaper rooms, there's the Best Western in Baraboo about 20 mins away. The Wisconsin Dells might be fun at night too, although I don't know how much is going on in the winter.

Granite Peak *might* be worth the extra drive, but I personally didn't care for it that much. Yes it is bigger, and yes there's more vertical, but not that big of a difference IMO. They name every little branch off and connector trail which is why their run count is so high, and they pretty much pulled there vertical stat out of their butt (even to the parking lot it's not 700ft).

EDIT: Just realized after posting this that Devilshead had some, err.... lift issues, earlier this season, so you might want to double check that they're back up and running 100%. Basically a lift brake failed and chairs started sliding backwards down the cables and some people got hurt, a few quite seriously.
post #5 of 19
Originally Posted by PAPA View Post

Not sure of the travel times...but don't leave www.holidayvalley.com/ off your list.

Oh nice, I hadn't seen this place. It's about 7:45 from the Indy area. Which is about the same or less than the Boyne resorts (and ~250' more vertical too).
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
Awesome input!

Thanks for the Holiday Valley suggestion.  I'd completely missed NY in my search.  I'll keep this one in mind.

I see.  Would you suggest Boyne, Highlands, or Nub Nub over the other areas metioned?  In any event, which is your favorite MI spot of the ones on the list and the ones you mentioned?  I'll use that information to knock off the rest of the MI resorts.

So far, despite the chair issue, I'm leaning towards Devil's Head for the WI picks.  What you described as the surrounding area and atmosphere are a lot like what we're looking for.  I'll look into their operation situation and make sure they're back to 100%.  I can't access it from here (work) but I think Granite Peak was also very expensive, IIRC.
post #7 of 19
Just drive to Colorado.  It's a longer drive, but the skiing is much, much better than anywhere on your list. 
post #8 of 19
Originally Posted by ChadwickVM View Post
  I can't access it from here (work) but I think Granite Peak was also very expensive, IIRC.

yeah, that's right, significantly more than the surrounding places.
post #9 of 19
With respect to Holiday Valley. The lodging options are good. Any where from bunkhouse type accomodations" budget" , Up to the New Tamarack Lodge or just rent a condo/ townhome for your stay. Splitting up the cost makes things pretty reasonable. Nightlife in the Town of Ellicotville, just about a mile back up the rode is very active with a variety of restaurants and bars.
post #10 of 19
Originally Posted by SHREDHEAD View Post

Just drive to Colorado.  It's a longer drive, but the skiing is much, much better than anywhere on your list. 

Bump for extreme wisdom. Wanna get midwest ?  Colorado is pretty much midwest  and has more to offer than a bump in the road.
post #11 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.  I really do appreciate the enthusiasm but unfortunately the logistics of moving 15 to 20 people to Col and back on a 3 day weekend w/o the fare for plane tickets just won't work.  The drive from Indiana would be a vacation all on its own.

Thanks for all of the input.  We will either do the Cascades and take up a hotel in the Dells or do Devil's Head and get non-resort hotel rooms close by.

post #12 of 19
ChadwickVM - I currently live in Chicago but up until '07 lived outside of Cleveland.  In Chicago we have been to Cascade and Granite Peak.  When we used to live in Ohio we would do weekend trips to Holiday Valley.  Holiday Valley is light years ahead of the resorts in Wisconsin.  Not sure what the extra drive time is but if it is within 90 minutes of the Wisconsin hills I wouldn't even hesitate about the extra drive.  Ellicotville is a cool little village with a "ski town" feel to it and the lifts, lodges and layout (plus more vertical, granted its only 750 feet) at HV had much more of a ski resort feel to it than anything in Wisconsin.  If you have 15 to 20 people that you are talking about I think you would get bored in about 3 hours at Cascade, in about 6 hours at Granite Peak and I think you would have fun the whole time at HV.  Also, given its location just east of Lake Erie, HV gets much better natural snowfall, I think about 150-180 inches a year of natural snow.  Most of the snow in Wisconsin is man made.
post #13 of 19
nice, Holiday Valley looks pretty nice on-line and given review above ... you also may avoid Chicagoland traffic depending on route if one hit Wi.

but if you do hit Wi, the Dells while not skiing, does have some nice indoor waterparks, the Wilderness and Kalahari are really great, but may be a bit pricer or busy on MLK.  Funny, lines at the lift as well as at a water slide ..... wave pool though hasn't a line!  ; )
post #14 of 19

"Yes, Holiday Valley. No. 4 in the East. Ahead of Whiteface, ahead of Killington, ahead of Sugarbush, ahead of...well, you get the point. We know this: They’re not doing it with Terrain Variety or Challenge—not on 750 vertical feet, anyway. But that only underscores how successful this not-so-little Western New York resort dynamo is in serving the needs of its constituents. True, lots of Holiday Valley survey respondents aren’t comparing the place to the far-off mountains of, say, Vermont or the Adirondacks. But loyal Holiday Valley skiers are proud of their home hill, and by any standard, the charms of Ellicottville are obvious: real snow (thank you, lake effect), cozy village, lively scene, plenty of soul. “Best ski town east of the Rockies,” asserts one reader. “Great small-town feel,” adds another. All the busy bars and restaurants add up to “awesome après scene” (No. 3 in the East) and a high rank for Dining (No. 4). Meanwhile, the ski area makes the most of what it has: Respondents rank it No. 2 in lifts, for instance. (Admittedly, that’s a little tough to swallow if you’re say, Stratton, which has five high-speed lifts to Holiday’s two; but impressive by local standards nonetheless.) Family Programs rank a respectable No. 4, thanks largely to the efforts of the “awesome, highly knowledgeable” ski school employees. Holiday keeps it real in terms of pricing—and earns a No. 6 for Value. And its Terrain Parks (No. 7) do a great job of keeping the tweens and teens happy and out of trouble. In general, “they do a lot with their 750 vertical feet,” says one reader. “They work hard and keep making improvements,” adds another. Crowds can be a problem. So can the limits of geography. “Need more hill,” one reader admits. But the charms of Ellicottville and the fun, laid-back atmosphere of the mountain—“friendliest mountain staff in the industry”—seal the deal for skiers of Western New York and beyond. Just goes to show, the quality of a ski experience can’t always be measured in vertical feet."

2010 Resort Guide

post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 

Thanks again guys.  Well, I think I have no choice but to take another look at how long we want to drive.  We decided to reduce our driving time from under 7.5 to under 7 hours and HV is a little over 8. So Holiday Valley may be a bit out of our driving range but with accolades like what you've shown, I think we may have to reconsider.    Only concern I have w/ extending the driving time is that a few of the people want to leave early on Friday, drive the 5 to 7 hours to our destination and go skiing instead of getting there Thursday night.  I suppose its doable though.

Thanks again for the help everyone.
post #16 of 19
I was raised in Angola, Indiana and  I've skied all the areas you've listed that are in MI, IL, WI.  

I would probably just go to Perfect North.  None of the other areas that I've been too will be much better and all of them are a heck of a lot farther.
It seems like your travel times to Wi areas are extremely optimistic.   I-65 is very busy, with lots of trucks and I-80/294 around Chicago can be absolute hell if you hit it at the wrong time.   

I've never skied Winterplace, but I have ridden MTB's there and the hills are much bigger than anything you've listed in WI or MI?
post #17 of 19
Don't bother with Mt Holly or Pine Knob.  These are fine little man-made hills for Detroit-area residents to get out and make turns at, but not worth driving more than an hour to get to.

Crystal/Caberfae could make for a reasonable weekend, but if you're going that far I'd do the extra drive to Nubs/Boyne.  Holliday Valley is nice too. I've never skied Wisconsin, Illionios or Indiana, so I can't help you there. Good luck.
post #18 of 19
Thread Starter 
Hey guys,

Well, as it turns out, about half of the original fifteen people want to go now and a some people aren't too keen on taking a Friday off anymore.  Soooo.... if we can't get more than, say, seven people, we'll probably end up just doing a 2 day at Perfect North or something.  Thanks again for the input everyone.
post #19 of 19
Know how that goes. Last year we had a big group from work going out for just a Saturday - it ended up being me and one other guy. But hey it got me skiing. =D

So far this year I've had two people cancel on me. Enjoy the PN. It gets so much better in the evening on Saturdays. I was there tonight (which was far from crowded anyway) and Red Lift was walk on half the time. Days on Saturdays are crazy. So unless you have to have first tracks I usually wait. (though that means I get crudded up hills - but I don't mind - crud over crowds.)
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