At Navarino Hills, skis, snowboards, and inner tubes zoom down trails blanketed in freshly made snow. Double chairlifts and cable tows ferry visitors to the top of the slopes so they can start their run or help search for the yeti's lost contacts. After hitting the mountain, head inside the chalet to warm up with hot cocoa, coffee, or cappuccino daily or fish fries every Friday.
Originally a family farm before two families of ski enthusiasts purchased the land in 1961, Sunburst Ski Area now encompasses 13 sundry ski runs as well as terrain parks and steep tubing lanes for winter athletes of all skill levels. Skiers and boarders plummet down nine runs that range from rolling bunny hills to harrowing double-black-diamond steeps. Flashy alpinists can trick out at the terrain parks, which boast a series of rails, ramps, and tables for mid-grind picnic lunches. Additionally, patrons can carve through the fresh powder after dark, as a full spotlight system keeps the slopes open until 9 p.m. from Monday–Thursday and 10 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. On the tubing hill, riders seated in inflatable tubes zoom, bob, and spin down 12 chutes measuring 900 feet long and spanning a 10-story descent. The tubes can reach speeds of more than 40 miles per hour, which is just fast enough to outpace the hungry snowmen that think each one is a gigantic donut.
If you really want to go all the way back, Granite Peak's story began some two billion years ago, when intense heat and volcanic activity built a mountain toward the heavens. But you don't have to dig quite that deep to understand how the mountain became what it is today. A little more than seven decades ago, a group of Wausau residents came together with ambition and a fair amount of elbow grease. Together, they cleared out six runs by hand and build a stone chalet from the quarry nearby. A ski resort was born, which is now the tallest and largest ski area in Wisconsin and just four hours from the Chicagoland area.
Like the nation's love of quality television drama, Granite Peak has continued to grow over the decades. The steep and rolling terrain beneath its 700-foot summit, the tallest vertical drop in the Wisconsin or Upper peninsula, now encompasses a total of 75 runs, including beginner runs and mile-long cruising runs. High-speed chair lifts ferry skiers and snowboarders to the tops of these routes, and four terrain parks provide jumps, rails, and other features. The mountain is also lighted to allow for skiing and snowboarding after the sun sets behind the peak. Whatever the agenda of a snowy day, Granite Peak's ski patrol stays on-hand to keep things safe.
Five trails descend down the slopes at Highlands of Olympia, ranging from the beginner-friendly bunny hill to the East Bowl, a black diamond that challenges advanced skiers to face the biting winds as they carve through the incline. The mountain also features a terrain park where snowboarders grind over rails and boxes, and tow ropes pull inner tubes up the hill before they are released for a speedy 1,000-foot-long descent that covers a 60-foot vertical drop. A half-hour’s drive from downtown Milwaukee, Highlands packs a day’s worth of entertainment into the neatly packed snow, from the onsite bar and restaurant to lessons in which instructors impart the secrets of picking up ham-radio signals with outstretched ski poles.
No ski lessons. No beginners allowed. All ungroomed terrain. Averaging 273 inches per year, Mount Bohemia is a snow-covered haven for seasoned skiers, eschewing bunny slopes for 500-plus acres with two chair lifts filled with 90 runs?most of which are rated for experts. The mountain's 900-foot vertical drop, noted for being the tallest in the midwest, has won it many fans, including MSN Travel, which named it on its list of 10 Undiscovered Ski Spots in 2006. They were also rated number one for best powder skiing east of the rockies by Powder Magazine.