The Chicago area is most commonly associated with things like deep-dish pizza, hot dogs, and love for disappointing sports teams. While Chicago’s geographically flat landscape does not bode well for downhill skiing, good ski resorts can be found for those willing to take a drive. Within three hours of Chicago, there are plenty of ski …
Guide to Iowa’s 3 Ski Resorts
There’s a common misconception that Iowa is made up of flat, sweeping farmland that would make it difficult to accommodate any ski resorts. On the contrary, the state mainly consists of hills and valleys and usually experiences quite cold winters with an average snowfall of 30.4” per year.
The ski areas in the state all feature snowmaking capabilities, so while 30 inches of snowfall per year may not sound like a lot, the cold temperatures create the perfect environment to keep snow on the ground most of the winter at these resorts.
Aside from being the leading corn producer in the US, Iowa is also known for its natural wonders such as its mind-blowing caves and scenic state parks— all of which tell you a little history about the Hawkeye State.
While there aren’t beaucoups of ski resorts here, the 3 small ski areas that call Iowa home are enough to satisfy any Midwest winter enthusiast.
Sundown Mountain Resort
Located in Dubuque, amid the vast Iowa farmland and opened in 1972, it’s the only Midwest ski resort that has been granted the NSAA Award of Excellence; plus it’s the #1 overall ski area in Iowa. As the biggest ski area in the state, it features 21 scenic trails etched through 85 acres of skiable terrain with a 475-foot vertical drop—not to mention a 1,059-foot summit elevation.
A wide variety of terrain offers everyone in the family, regardless of age or ability, the chance to have some fun in the snow.
While there are no overnight lodging options available at Sundown Mountain Resort, they do offer ski and stay packages for nearby hotels, which should save you a little money. And you don’t have to worry about driving far to dine since the resort has a bar and grill that offers sandwiches, pizza, soups, chili, and appetizers, plus big-screen TVs for your entertainment.
Some other features offered at Sundown Mountain include:
- Kids Park facility for ages 3-11
- Ski lessons for all ages and abilities
- Equipment rentals
- State of the art snowmaking
- Gift shop with select ski and snowboard gear
- Night skiing on lighted trails
The only thing this ski area seems to be lacking is a snow tubing hill at this time.
Seven Oaks Recreation
This small, family-owned, and operated ski area in central Iowa started in 1997 and is only about 50 miles from Des Moines. It features 11 runs ranging from beginner to expert, a terrain park, a rail yard, as well as a beginner’s area. At Seven Oaks Recreation Ski Area, you will enjoy 35 acres of skiable terrain with a 275-foot vertical, and some of the best expert terrain in the state. It has a top elevation of 975 feet
.If you work up an appetite on the slopes “The Lodge at Seven Oaks” provides the perfect place to rest, warm up, and grab some refreshments at the Coal Creek Lounge before getting back to it. There’s also a café that serves burgers, nachos, fries, and beverages, and there’s a coffee shop for all your caffeine needs. Alternatively, you are welcome to bring a brown bag lunch if you prefer.
Overnight lodging is not available on site but if you choose to stay with one of their partner hotels, you receive discounted room rates and on Seven Oaks activities.
Other amenities include affordable tubing, equipment rentals, ski and snowboard lessons, plus all kinds of winter specials and group and school discounts. There’s also night skiing to keep the thrills going long after the sun sets.
Mt Crescent Ski Area
This ski area, 15 miles northeast of Omaha in Honey Creek, is located in the mountainous region of the Iowa Bluffs. Opened in 1961, it’s the oldest ski area in the state and has been voted the #1 place to learn to ski and snowboard and the #1 place to sled in Iowa. Mt Crescent features special events like Midnight Madness, Homeschool Days, Scout Days, the Mini-Me Mud Run, and Full Moon Snowshoe Adventures just to name a few.
Mt Crescent Ski Area is also known for having one of the best terrain parks in Iowa and consists of 11 runs with 50 skiable acres, and a 1,500-foot summit elevation. The 300-foot vertical drop is the 2nd highest in the state and the 1,000-foot sledding run is the only one of its kind at any Iowan ski resort.
There’s also a Mountain Café and Bar with an outside fire pit to warm up after a long day in the snow. Similar to the others, some additional perks include group discounts, night skiing, equipment rentals, as well as private and group ski lessons.
These 3 ski resorts are proof that The Hawkeye State is not all flatlands. Whichever ski area you choose, it’s sure to be an unforgettable winter experience for the entire family.