Now that the holidays are over, winter can often times seem dismal. Being stuck inside for hours on end can be detrimental, not only to your state of mind but to your health, as the sun is a prominent source of Vitamin D for our bodies. Besides drinking more milk and orange juice fortified with Vitamin D (which isn’t a bad idea), what else can you do? Get outside! And what better thing to do outside in the winter but sled or ski!
Bust out those saucers and head to your nearest Valpo park for some serious sledding! Some of the popular venues are Rogers Lakewood Park’s sledding hill, located off Campbell St, to the left after you enter the main entrance, and Forest Park’s hill, on Harrison Blvd. The golf course at Forest Park is also a great place to sled! If sledding isn’t your cup of tea, Tower Park, on the corner of Evans and Franklin St, offers ice skating when weather permits. Deep River Water Park, on Highway 30, also is open for ice skating during the winter. Traveling to the big city? Chicago’s Millennium Park is a great place to skate, right in the heart of the Loop.
Wanting to cut some powder with your skis? This area has some great cross-country skiing areas: Sunset Hill Farm County Park, the Inn at Aberdeen, the Indiana Dunes, Buckley Homestead, Deep River County Park, and the Grand Kankakee Marsh are all great places to bring your skis and see the snowy scenery. If you need to rent cross-country skis, check out Lemon Lake County Park in Crown Point, Oak Ridge Prairie in Griffith, and Stoney Run in Leroy. Unfortunately with the closing of the Pines Ski Resort, in order to find good downhill skiing (and snowboarding too!), you have to drive a bit. The best place in our fine state, particularly for beginners, is Perfect North Slopes, located in Lawrenceburg, IN. As they are celebrating their 30th Anniversary this year, they have made some improvements structurally, as well as including lessons with all lift tickets and adding more tubing hours.
Other states bordering Indiana offer more great options. In Illinois, there is the Eagle Ridge Resort & Spa, located in Galena. They boast thousands of acres of rolling hills and a beautiful lake, Eagle Ridge is a great place to ski. Cross-country skiing, as well as ice skating, sledding, and horse-drawn sleigh rides are available, only a 4 ½ hour drive from Valparaiso. 15 minutes closer, Chestnut Mountain, also near Galena, offers a great Friday lift special at $25. This 220 acre property provides 19 exciting trails with a total 475 vertical drop.
For all you cheeseheads out there, Wisconsin has a number of fantastic skiing locales. I personally have skied at Cascade Mountain located near Portage, 3 hours and 45 minutes away. They have great group rates and kids 12 and under are free! Right now they have a special skiing lesson package, for those who haven’t skied or maybe just need a reminder. For a bit closer drive, at 2 ½ hours, there is the Grand Geneva Resort at Lake Geneva. This skiing haven not only boasts elevations up to 1,086 feet and a snowboarding “Fun Park,” it also has a 50,000 square foot water park located at the adjoining Timber Ridge Lodge. And for the traveler who wants to get away a bit further, check out Granite Peak at Rib Mountain State Park, a 5 ½ hour drive. Opened in 1937, these slopes provide a 700 foot vertical drop and 74 runs. I have not personally skied at this location, but I have been to Rib Mountain and the view itself is spectacular, well worth the drive.
Lastly, the great state of Michigan has long been a favorite skiing destination. Two of the most popular destinations in Michigan are Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, a 5 ½ hour drive away. Boyne Mountain has the first conveyor-loaded lift in the Midwest, which helps load skiers onto the lift chair. Both locations offer a zipline adventure, which basically consists of hanging from a cable and flying down the mountain through the trees. It is very safe and very fun! Another great Michigan locale is Shanty Creek, also 5 ½ hours away in Bellaire. Shanty Creek offers three villages and two ski mountains, with 49 runs and a 450 foot vertical drop. This location was rated “Best Downhill Terrain in the Midwest” by OnTheSnow.com’s visitors so be sure to check it out! Another 5 hour drive in Thompsonville is Crystal Mountain. This resort has been named the #1 resort in the Midwest by SKI Magazine in 2005, with 45 downhill slopes, two terrain parks, and a 700 foot halfpipe.
Be safe and enjoy some winter fun!