Living in Urbana doesn’t mean you must travel far away to find a great downhill skiing experience. No expensive trips to Aspen or Utah are required access a great ski resort.
Surprisingly, there are actually five ski resorts that fall within the borders of Ohio, two more in neighboring Indiana and one just across the border in West Virginia. Five of these resorts are owned and operated by Vail Resorts, which operates some of the largest and best-known ski resorts in the world. You can hop in the car and get to these places and back on less than a tank of gas. All eight area ski resorts are first-class destinations with top-notch operations.
The weather has been just a little too warm in November and December this year for consistent skiing conditions but the full-blown powder season has now finally arrived here in January along with the colder temperatures. So don’t worry, you can now get your downhill thrills on, close to home.
Mad River Mountain, which is less than 20 miles from Urbana, is now open along with many other area resorts. So, for all you gnarly half-pikers, down-hillers, tubers and first-timers alike, now is the time to start dreaming about shredding some snow close to home.
Start thinking about picking your poison, whether it be snowboarding, tubing or skiing, because the snow-making machines are working overtime cranking out man-made powder at a crazy pace, whether snow starts falling from the skies are not. Colder temperatures are all that was needed.
Some ski resorts in Ohio’s northern “Snow Belt” already sporadically opened weeks ago due to the region’s lake-effect snows from Lake Erie and their historically colder temperatures. If fact, Snow Trails in Mansfield has been packing in the tubers and skiers, like crazy, for weeks.
Check out these “Great Eight Ski Resorts” which all have first-class amenities, diverse terrain and vertical drops from 175 to over 400 feet.
Mad River Mountain
This Ohio resort is a local favorite with over 20 trails, 12 lifts, a 1,460-foot mountain elevation, 4 terrain parks, 144 ski-able acres and a 300-foot vertical drop. It also has Ohio’s largest tubing park.
It is home to Ohio’s largest snow-making system. Mad River Mountain has more than 120 fan guns that are able to pump out 7,000 gallons of water per minute, covering the entire 144-acre resort with snow in as little as 72 hours. Check out their impressive grand resort lodge, with 46,000 square feet of space, dining options, a bar and grill, live music, retail and more. Mad River Mountain is owned by Vail Resorts of Colorado.
Located near Mansfield, Ohio, Snow Trails was Ohio’s first ski resort and the first resort to make man-made snow. This premier facility has over 80 acres with 12 slopes and 15 trails with a maximum 300-foot vertical drop, a tubing park, a terrain park and a ski school.
These two previously separate resorts, are now owned by the same management company and are located just five minutes apart in Peninsula and Sagamore Hills, Ohio. These two resorts are now considered one and offer night skiing, a terrain park, a half pipe, 15 lifts and 18 trails. Lift tickets and passes are valid at both parks. Be sure to check out the Polar Blast tubing park at Brandywine for some great family fun.
This Chesterville, Ohio resort, located in the heart of Ohio’s snow belt, features an extreme park, 11 slopes, a tubing park, Ohio’s longest half pipe and a learning center and a chalet.
Big Creek Ski Area
Located in Painesville, Ohio, this resort offers 9 slopes, great skiing, snowboarding and tubing with a maximum 175-foot vertical drop.
Perfect North Slopes
Located in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, just outside of Cincinnati, this tri-state favorite is just around an hour and 30 minute drive from the Urbana area and has 20 lifts and over 80 trails for skiers and snowboarders. Check out their gigantic tubing park and the 70,000-square-foot lodge, with dining, retail and more. With a 400-foot vertical drop and a one-mile run you can’t go wrong here.
This 1,700-acre, year-round resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, is literally just over the Ohio state line off I-70 and offers great skiing and snow boarding with natural and man-made snow. Ski lessons are available on site. The resort features a 270-room luxurious lodge with multiple dining options, indoor pool, fitness center, specialty shops, a zoo and more.
This popular resort, located in central Indiana, has a whopping 25 lifts, 75 trails, a beautiful ski lodge with all the amenities and a super tubing park. The resort boasts a snow-making system that can make 12 inches of snow in one night over the entire 65-acre resort.
Ron Brohm is a regular contributor to this newspaper.