"Ski Southern Indiana" might look silly on a bumper sticker, but with hills reaching 800 feet high and 22 inches of snow a year (plus machines to make even more), families don’t need to head to the Rockies for a weekend of snowboarding and downhill skiing.
Paoli Peaks averages 18 inches of snow during the ski season. The highest peak is 800 feet above sea level, while the lowest is 400 feet. Perfect North Slopes has the same snow statistics.
“Paoli Peaks is the perfect place for family and friends to experience the thrills and chills of skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing, said Sylvia Crick, director of marketing and administration for Paoli Peaks, located in the heart of Southern Indiana, just a few miles east of the French Lick.
Open seven days a week during the season, Paoli Peaks has nine lanes of 700-foot snow-covered slopes as well as two terrain parks including Empire Park, the state’s largest, and the Arctic Blast for tubing and sledding.
Describing it as offering a great value for skiers, Crick said there are a wide range of places to stay nearby, including the historic French Lick Springs and West Baden Springs resorts, Patoka Lake Winery suites, which are above the tasting room at Patoka Lake Winery, and cabins at Wilstem Ranch.
“Perfect North is a family-owned ski resort located in Dearborn County, Southeast Indiana, just off of the I-275 interstate exit, which is the Cincinnati loop,” said Jennifer Clayton, of Clayton Communications. “Known throughout the Ohio River valley, Perfect North offers more than 80 acres of tree-lined trails and slopes, including a special tubing park designed just for snow tubers. The overall property includes five chair lifts, six carpet lifts, 22 trails and two terrain parks.”
Typically, Perfect North opens from early-to-mid-December through late-February or early-March, depending on weather conditions. Snow is made at the resort; rental equipment is available as are lessons for beginners. Dearborn County hotels are located just a short drive away.
“The property also offers special group rates, and an updated lodge with onsite Loft Shop and Chow Corral,” Clayton said. “Coincidentally, one fun fact that a lot of people don't know is that the facility was started by, and is still owned and run by, a family whose last name is Perfect.”
There’s snow in the hills of Southwest Michigan, as well.
Geographically closer to Northwest Indiana than those further downstate, Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area first opened in 1960 and was known as Little Switzerland. Originally very small — an old farmhouse with seven rope tows — that’s changed dramatically.
Drawing snow enthusiasts from South Bend, Northwest Indiana, St. Joseph, Michigan and Kalamazoo, Swiss Valley features 11 runs with the longest at 1800 feet. There are also seven lifts including two quads and one triple which can carry 9,800 skiers uphill per hour as well as the highest peak in Southwest Michigan, rising to 225-vertical feet.
Other snow options for skiers and snowboarders include two levels of terrain parks — a starter with easily navigable low surfaces designed for learning to ride, bonk and jib and one for those who are more experienced with tabletops, high spines, grind rails and pyramids.
West of Kalamazoo, Michigan, the family oriented Timber Ridge Ski Area offers eight lifts, two terrain parks, a tubing park, racing events and gathering areas for dining and brown baggers as well. Access to the slopes include one quad, one triple, two double chairlifts as well as several surface lifts for beginners, and surface lifts for the terrain parks.