9 Best Ski Resorts in Wisconsin for Beginners

by Simon Knott | Updated On: August 4th, 2022
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Wisconsin has become something of a Mecca for skiers, and to date, there are 35 resorts scattered across the State. We’ve taken the pick of the bunch for beginners, so take a look through to find which resort fits your next vacation.

Our Top Pick for beginners in Wisconsin is Granite Peak. It’s a mid-size resort with plenty of variety, which also has progressive slopes for beginners to easily develop their skills.

Our Top Picks

    9. Sunburst Ski Resort

    Ski Resort 7

    Sunburst Ski Resort was originally built by two Wisconsin families in 1961. The resort is based in the small rural town of Kewaskum, Wisconsin, and so Sunburst draws skiers from Milwaukee, 30 minutes away, and from Green Bay to the north in just under an hour.

    What’s the Skiing like?

    The resort has gradually been expanded over the years and now has three chairlifts servicing the 11 runs. In addition, there are two terrain parks, as well as snowmaking and grooming facilities.

    Beginners should start over on the left-hand side of the resort near the front office, where a rope tow services a gentle slope. You’re well away from the main action here, so you will have space to relax and improve your skills.

    Slightly more challenging runs are located next door, again serviced by rope tows, leading to shorter green runs back down to the base. When you’re feeling confident to try something more challenging, take the double chair in front of the Chalet Cafeteria, which takes you to the top of the hill.

    Run 6, Exhibition, will introduce you to the blue runs, and you can choose your route halfway down as it forks in either direction.

    Sunburst Ski Resort lays claim to having the world’s largest tubing hill in the world.

    It’s a monster with more than 40 chutes running down over a quarter of a mile run and a 90-ft drop. 30 mph is easy to achieve, and no one will hear your screams! Luckily, two magic carpet lifts take the strain out of getting back up the hill.

    Learning to Ski

    All skiers are welcome at Sunburst Ski School, whether you are a complete beginner or a returning skier. Private lessons can be the best way forward for younger kids aged five and up in the early days.

    Here the instructor can spend more time hands-on in developing good habits.

    For skiers returning to the slopes or those wanting to up their game, instructors can customize lessons to work on particular aspects and help you achieve your skiing goals.

    If you like the idea of learning together as a family, you can take advantage of the Snow Much Fun Lessons, where families as a group learn together for ages 5+. The group’s organization is flexible, and ski and snowboard instructors will concentrate their attention on those in the group who need the most help.

    Even the youngest are catered for in Sunburst Ski School, where the Snowman Adventure Club offers a fun introduction to skiing and equipment for youngsters aged 3 to 5.

    Don’t forget to print out and fill in your waiver forms when signing up for lessons. At Sunburst Ski School, you will generally have to fill out three forms per lesson, the lift ticket waiver, lesson waiver, and rental information sheet.

    Off the Slopes

    Kewaskum is a rural location, but there are plenty of lodging opportunities a short drive away. These are primarily mid-priced chain hotels and motels with all the comfort you need after a long day on the slopes.

    What We Love About Sunburst Ski Resort

    • Sunburst is a smallish resort where beginners won’t feel intimidated by faster skiers
    • The tubing park is a must for families
    • The lessons are well thought out and adaptable for different ages and abilities

    Map

    Sunburst Ski Resort Stats

    Summit Elevation:1100 ft / 335 metres
    Skiable terrain: 37 acres
    Lifts:10
    Runs:11

    8. Nordic Mountain

    Ski Resort 6

    Nordic Mountain is a smaller ski area located in rural Wisconsin. The main catchment for local skiers is Green Bay, a 1.5-hour drive to the northeast and a similar distance south to Madison and Milwaukee.

    What’s the Skiing Like?

    Nordic Mountain is ideal for beginners. It has a progressive beginner area and numerous blue runs to help develop your skills. Before trying the chairlift, locate the learning area just to the right of the restaurant. Here, you’ll find plenty of space to practice and where you can choose between the rope or handle tow and the conveyor lift.

    All the runs in the beginner area are green to help build your confidence. When you feel ready for the next step, walk in front of the restaurant across to the triple chair and take this to the top.

    Take a left as you leave the chairlift to find the green run, Gentle Giant, which is a long sweeping run around the boundary of the ski area that takes you back to the triple chair.

    From here you can progress onto the green, Memory Lane, on the other side of the resort, and then start trying some of the blues, which are spread across the mountain.

    Nordic Mountain is set in a 60-acre park and rises to 1137 ft (346 m) with a vertical drop of 265 ft (81 m). The eight straightforward runs are primarily blue and green with a handful of blacks.

    All ages are allowed on the tubing park, but there is a 42-inch height requirement. You can choose from different chutes, some faster than others, where you can get close to 40 mph. Getting back up to the top is easy with the conveyor lift.

    Lift tickets can be bought daily, weekly and for the season also. Nordy’s Pub in the lodge is a great place to warm up by the fire and stoke up on sandwiches, wraps, and pizza.

    Learning to Ski

    Private lessons are offered by trained instructors for ages 3+ for skiing and 5+ for snowboarding. Lessons last 1.5 hours, and additional students can be added for $39.

    Lift tickets and equipment rental are not included but can be reserved at the time of booking. Pre-booking is recommended, as the classes are popular.

    If you are going to be staying in the area for a while there are several multiweek group courses aimed at different age groups throughout January and February, as part of the Learning Academy at Nordic Mountain.

    See also  3 Best North Carolina Ski Resorts for Families

    The tubing run is a great way of relaxing with your family and friends after a day of learning on the slopes.

    Off the Slopes

    There is no resort lodging at Nordic Mountain but the resort has partnered with numerous independent lodging and restaurant companies in the locality, which are listed on the website.

    Even though Nordic Mountain is quite a rural location there are plenty of nearby inns and motels close to Wild Rose, as well as holiday rentals on the shore of Lake Winnebago to the east.

    What We Love About Nordic Mountain

    • It’s a smaller, well-thought-out ski resort that is set up for beginner skiers
    • The tubing park is a fun way to relax at the end of the day
    • Green Bay is 1.5-hours away and Madison and Milwaukee are two hours by road

    Map

    Nordic Mountain Stats

    Summit Elevation:1137 ft / 346 metres
    Skiable terrain: 60 acres
    Lifts:7
    Runs:16

    7. Mont du Lac

    skiresort5

    Mont du Lac Ski and Golf Resort is a year-round destination in the far northern tip of Wisconsin on the State line with Minnesota, close to the St Louis River. Mont du Lac is in easy driving distance of the towns of Duluth and Superior.

    What’s the Skiing Like?

    The beginner area at Mont du Lac is just in front of the parking lot near the Lodge. There’s one gentle green run here, Pancake, where you can get comfortable with your gear and practice your snowplows.

    You will then be well placed to progress onto the two blue runs, Main Face, and Chase, on the right-hand side of the resort when you want to try something a little steeper. The ski area has 12 runs and four lifts, and the site is spread over a 10-acre bowl. The tubing village is situated close to the Base Lodge, where the chutes are divided into beginner, intermediate and advanced.

    You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to eating on the mountain, thanks to the Base Bar and Restaurant lower down and the recently opened Trophy Lodge, perched on top of the ski hill. Both restaurants sell an array of fast food items, such as burgers, wraps, pizza, and sandwiches.

    Learning to Ski

    All instructors at Mont du Lac are PSIA/AASI trained and certified, and they have plenty of experience in dealing with beginners in their first few days. Skiers and snowboarders are different in how they take to the snow. Some are like ducks to water, while others may struggle a bit more.

    If you find you’re struggling, it’s worth talking to an instructor and maybe taking a couple of private lessons. With private lessons, you get the instructor’s full attention, and they can help you overcome the problems you are struggling with.

    You can also add other people to your private lesson for no extra cost. So, overall private lessons are likely to be more expensive but, on the plus, side a whole lot less frustrating.

    If private lessons aren’t for you, then group ski and snowboard lessons are very popular, and consequently, booking is recommended. Groups consist of the first eight people to sign up, aged 9+. Lessons last for 90 minutes and take place throughout the day at weekends and at 5 PM during the week.

    Youngsters may enjoy going their own way by signing up to The Mont du Lac Adventure Club. The club is for kids and teenagers aged 3-17 and the aim is to have fun but at the same time build on existing skills, improve confidence, and learn about etiquette and safety while skiing.

    Off the Slopes

    There are numerous on-site lodges, and cabins for rent in Mont du Lac. In addition, an RV park offers pitches for rent throughout the year. For those preferring to lodge outside the resort, the nearby towns of Superior and Duluth have plenty of hotels and inns close to the shores of Lake Superior.

    What We Love About Mont du Lac

    • More experienced skiers will go elsewhere, leaving the runs quiet for beginners
    • There are two restaurants on the mountain to speed up service
    • There is a variety of quality lodging on-site, from cabins to the RV park

    Map

    Mont du Lac Stats

    Summit Elevation:10677 ft / 3254 metres
    Skiable terrain: 400 acres
    Lifts:3
    Runs:10

    6. Christie Mountain

    Christie Mountain

    Christie Mountain ski area is a newer resort, created in 1977. It’s located in a rural spot close to the small village of Bruce. Minneapolis is 120 miles to the west, while the shores of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior are roughly the same distance to the east.

    What’s the Skiing like?

    Christie Mountain always gets some great reviews online. Visitors repeatedly say they enjoy the friendly staff and the patient and helpful instructors in lessons. For a smaller resort of only 42 acres Christie Mountain packs in a total of 30 runs.

    The beginner area at Christie Mountain is divided in two by the Chalet. The lower section is called Easy Street, with a couple of shorter green runs, while the upper section on the other side of the Chalet has another couple of green runs, Bunny Express, and Cottontail.

    When you want to progress onto the mountain, you can take the chairlift to the top and choose between three green runs on the right, which wind their way back down through the trees to the base.

    Snow coverage at Christie Mountain shouldn’t be a problem as 90% of the trails are covered by snowmaking.

    Learning to Ski

    For younger, beginner skiers, the Kinder School at Christie Mountain is a great way to start kids off. Without being too regimented the aim of the classes is to teach kids the basics of skiing through the fun of playing. Ski rental isn’t included in the price of the lesson but under 8’s are entitled to a free lift ticket.

    Private lessons are available for all ages and can be organized on an individual basis to concentrate on specific beginner goals or extended to include other members of the family or traveling party.

    For groups, there are two options the Never Ever Group Lessons, for those eight and older who have never skied before, and the Refresher Group Lessons, for those looking to brush up on previous skills.

    Snow tubing is ever popular, and you can choose between an easy chute that glides you to the bottom or taking in the bumps and jumps of the fast lane. The conveyor lift helps you recover on your way back up.

    See also  9 Best Maine Ski Resorts For Families

    Off the Slopes

    There are numerous budget and mid-priced motels, inns, and hotels located around nearby Bruce. Similarly, for condos and house rentals, Airbnb and VRBO offer a good private selection.

    What we love about Christie Mountain

    • The resort staff has a reputation for being helpful
    • The beginner area setup helps you naturally progress
    • 90% of the runs are covered by snowmaking

    Map

    Christie Mountain Stats

    Summit Elevation:1650 ft / 502 metres
    Skiable terrain: 45 acres
    Lifts:6
    Runs:33

    5. Mount La Crosse Ski Area

    ski resort12

    Skiers have been enjoying Mount La Crosse Ski Area since it opened in 1959. Its claim to fame is for having the longest trail in Wisconsin. The aptly named, Mileaway, is a gentle, winding slope but there are plenty of challenges for more experienced beginners too.

    What’s the Skiing Like?

    There’s a small beginner area to the right of the Base Lodge, where you can try out your first turns well away from the distraction of other skiers. There is also a short rope tow to take you back up to the top of the hill.

    When it’s time for more of a challenge you can walk or ski past the Lodge to find the Mountaintop Chair. This two-seater will take you to the highest elevation, from where you can pick up the longest run, Mileaway, which skirts around the perimeter of the ski area lower down.

    As you get more experienced on the green runs there is plenty of opportunities to turn off to simpler blues, which will provide more of a challenge.

    Mount La Crosse ski area isn’t one of the highest resorts and so they have invested heavily in snowmaking, which now covers 100% of the runs.

    Learning to Ski

    Private lessons at Mount La Crosse become more economical if you add members of your group or family. Private bookings are for all ages, and they must be reserved online beforehand.

    In addition, you will receive a free lift ticket for the duration of the lesson, a half-price lift ticket for the remainder of your stay at the resort, as well as discounted ski rentals.

    Mount La Crosse also offers adaptive ski lessons. Trained instructors are available for private lessons every week. The lesson costs are covered by the North American Squirrel Association (NASA).

    Off the Slopes

    There is no on-resort accommodation at the Mount La Crosse ski area but there are numerous, competitively priced inns and lodges in the nearby town of La Crosse.

    What We Love About Mount La Crosse Ski Area

    • Recent investment has upgraded snowmaking to 100%
    • No charge for adaptive ski training
    • There is plenty of mid-priced lodging in motels, hotels, and condos in the locality

    Map

    Mount La Crosse Ski Area Stats

    Summit Elevation:1110 ft./338 m
    Skiable terrain:100 acres
    Lifts:4
    Runs:18

    4. The Whitecap Mountains

    Whitecap
    Photo by Electronker licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

    The runs at Whitecap Mountain range are spread over three of the Penokee Mountains, Thunderhead, Eagle’s Nest, and Whitecap, which altogether cover an area of more than 400 acres. The resort is an easy half-day drive from both Green Bay and Minneapolis.

    What’s the Skiing Like?

    The layout of the runs at Whitecap Mountain resort is unusual, with the summit in the center of the range and runs spanning down on three sides from it. Fortunately for beginners, green runs fan down on all sides providing plenty of interesting but not too challenging ski descent.

    However, before trying out the main mountain spend a little time in the beginner area behind Whitecap Lodge. It’s only small with one run, Bunny Bowl, but it’s well away from the other runs so you can concentrate without any distractions.

    When you graduate to trying the three peaks you will be spoilt for choice, as you can take any of the lifts and you will be able to find a green run that will bring you back down again.

    If you want to try something different Whitecap Mountain resort also has cross-country and snowshoeing trails that extend across adjacent, frozen Weber Lake. Snowmobiling is popular too and you can either bring your own or rent one in the resort. Trail six is the dedicated route for snowmobiles.

    Learning to Ski

    Beginners are welcome at Whitecap Mountain, where the instructors are experienced in adapting their teaching style for complete beginners or those returning after a long break.

    The Whitecap Mountain website has a useful list of equipment you need to bring to your first lesson as well as some general safety information, which will hopefully help to stop you from getting injured.

    Lessons are for two or four hours and can be organized as an individual, one-on-one tuition, or as groups of up to 4 to keep the cost down.

    Off the Slopes

    You can reserve accommodation in either the resort hotel or in the selection of private home rentals. The hotel offers ski-in, ski-out access, free parking, and continental breakfast. Additionally, there is a large indoor pool and hot tub. It’s also pet friendly by arrangement.

    What We Love About Whitecap Mountains Resort

    • Whitecap Mountains Resort is easily accessible from Minneapolis, Detroit, and Green Bay
    • It’s a larger resort of 400 acres but still has plenty of skiing for beginners
    • There are activities beyond downhill skiing, such as cross-country and snowshoeing trails, as well as snowmobiling

    Map

    Whitecap Mountains Resort Stats

    Summit Elevation:1750 ft / 533 metres
    Skiable terrain: 400 acres
    Lifts:5
    Runs:83

    3. Alpine Valley Resort

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    Alpine Valley is an all-season resort located in the town of Elkhorn. It is close to the extensive conurbations of Milwaukee to the east and Chicago to the south. It’s a smaller resort of 100 acres with a total of 20 runs.

    What’s the Skiing Like?

    At Alpine Valley resort the Beginner Area lift ticket includes one-third of the resort on the right-hand side. There is a small beginner area called Baby Steps just to the right of the restaurant, where you can find some quiet space to practice, along with magic carpets to take you up the hill again.

    Further along, there are then shorter green runs a little way up the hill before you move on to the two triple chairlifts on the far right. These give you access to 2 green runs and a blue.         

    Alpine Valley has one double chair and three triples, which are all high-speed lifts. The resort also has snowmaking and some areas are floodlit for night skiing.

    See also  11 Best Vermont Ski Resorts For Families

    Learning to Ski

    All instructors at Alpine Valley are fully qualified and experienced in helping complete beginners to find their feet in the snow. Lessons are grouped according to age and range from five up to 21+.

    If you are traveling as a beginner group or family, you can build your own semiprivate lesson in a group of up to 5 skiers. Alternatively, you can take a group lesson, which will be cheaper and will also include the price of your lift ticket and ski rental.

    Off the Slopes

    There is ski in-ski out accommodation at Alpine Valley in the resort hotel, which has a variety of rooms from doubles right up to private suites. If you want somewhere in the local town of Elkhorn there are several inns and lodges with family rooms.

    What We Love About Alpine Valley

    • For a smaller beginner resort Alpine Valley is well laid out
    • Night skiing adds hours to the skiing day
    • It’s good for quieter groups who will enjoy the rural location

    Map

    Alpine Valley Stats

    Summit Elevation:1,500 ft /460 m
    Skiable terrain:100 acres
    Lifts: 4
    Runs:20

    2. Mount Ashwabay, Salmo

    Ski Resort 2

    Mount Ashwabay is a smaller, day skiing resort overlooking Lake Superior and the Apostle Islands. Run as a not-for-profit, Mount Ashwabay, relies on the generosity of volunteers and donors, which often means you will get a warm welcome and better customer service.

    What’s the Skiing Like?

    Mount Ashwabay is in the north-western corner of Wisconsin, close to the town of Bayfield and approximately two hours from Duluth. The resort covers 60 acres and has a chairlift and a drag lift to service the 10 runs on the hill. Equipment rentals and lift tickets can be purchased on the hill.

    Beginners at Mt Ashwabay need to head for the Beginners’ Zone just in front of the main chalet. Here you’ll find Jerry’s Rope Tow, which will give you access to the slight hill in the beginner area. When you’re ready for a challenge you can move across to the main chair lift, which will take you to the top of the hill.

    From the top, you can go in either direction, turn left and you’ll take the green, Little Joe down to the base, or turn right and take another green, the long and winding Swiss Made.

    If you fancy a change of pace one day you can try out the extensive system of trails around the resort, which have been laid out for classic and skate skiing. Some of the trails take in great views of nearby Lake Superior.

    Learning to Ski

    Being not-for-profit, tuition at Mount Ashwabay is competitively priced compared to many larger resorts. Lessons are available for all ages and can be individual for personalized instruction or a second person can join in at a reduced rate. Lessons can be booked for 1 or 1.5 hours.

    Off the Slopes

    Several local B&Bs and inns have partnered with Mount Ashwabay to offer competitive ski and stay packages, which are available from the website.

    Alternatively, there is a range of inns, hotels, and rentals available in nearby Bayfield, close to the shores of Lake Superior.

    What We Love About Mount Ashwabay

    • Mount Ashwabay has plenty of terrain for beginners to learn on
    • Trails for cross-country and skate skiing, make a great break from learning to ski
    • The resort has teamed up with local lodging providers to offer ski and stay packages

    Map

    Mount Ashwabay Stats

    Summit Elevation:1320 ft / 402 metres
    Skiable terrain: 65 acres
    Lifts:2
    Runs:12

    1. Granite Peak at Rib Mountain State Park

    Granite Peak
    Photo by vxla licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Often quoted as being one of the best resorts in the Midwest, Granite Peak was established in 1937. The resort extends to more than 200 acres, over one wooded side of the mountain.

    What’s the Skiing Like?

    Runs are equally split between green and blue, so there is plenty of scope for practicing beginners, although several black runs are dotted over the resort. Recent upgrades include the lift system, which includes one six-seat and two four-seat high-speed chairs.

    The beginner area over by the ski school meeting point is well equipped with a chairlift and two drag lifts. These give you access to 4 green runs, some of which trail through the forest. It’s easy to progress further into the forest to try out some of the more difficult blue runs there.

    Although it’s quite a compact resort there is plenty of variation in the terrain to keep the skiing interesting.

    Amenities at Granite Peak congregate around the base area with all you need for a day’s skiing, including rentals, ski school, lift tickets, food & drink, and lockers.

    Learning to Ski

    Granite Peak is well geared up for lessons for kids right through to adults, using certified instructors. For beginner skiers aged 3 to 12 years (snowboard lessons start from 7+) the One-Day Lesson Programs are particularly popular and it’s necessary to book early.

    Lessons are available Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and holidays and can be taken in the morning or afternoon or as a full day with lunch provided. For more experienced kids there are two progressive courses spread over three weeks.

    If you want a change from skiing one afternoon, kids can work off some energy at Sylvan Tubing Hill in nearby Wausau, which has six slopes. You don’t even have to climb the hill; a lift drags you to the top on the tube.

    Off the Slopes

    For lodging, Granite Peak is just a 10-minute drive from downtown, and nearby Wausau is a further 10 minutes. Both towns are large enough to feature a diverse range of restaurants, hotels, motels, and rentals to suit all pockets.

    What We Love About Granite Peak

    • Granite Peak is a mid-size resort, which will satisfy beginners skiers
    • Recent lift upgrades should ensure queues are kept to a minimum
    • Lessons are comprehensive

    Map

    Granite Peak Stats

    Summit Elevation:1942 ft / 592 metres
    Skiable terrain:155 acres
    Lifts:7
    Runs:58

    Why Choose Wisconsin for Skiing?

    Wisconsin is blessed with more than its fair share of day ski resorts, which means easier and quicker access and, more importantly, longer on the slopes. Several resorts don’t have that much elevation, but their extensive snowmaking facilities ensure that coverage shouldn’t be a problem.

    All the resorts we featured offer lessons for beginners by certified ski and snowboard instructors.

    Wisconsin resorts might not have Big Sky airs but the State more than makes up for it with great learning breaks, affordability, and good old fun.

    Wisconsin resorts might not have Big Sky airs but the State more than makes up for it with family fun, great learning breaks, and affordability.


    How Did We Order This List?

    To help rank our top selection of ski resorts for this list we compared the following ranking factors:

    👨‍👩‍👦 Ranking Factor📈 Power to affect Rank
    Amount of Beginner Trails (Mi) 4x
    Amount of Skiing Area (Mi) 3x
    Cost of two adult tickets + child ticket1x
    How many magic carpet lifts1x

    We gave each factor its own weighting depending on how important we feel it is for family fun across all ages. For example, a resort with more beginner trails is higher ranked than a resort with a lower-priced family ticket – with all else being equal. That’s because while cost is a factor, it’s not a primary one. We may also use our editorial judgment to remove or add resorts that we believe should make the list.

    When taking all of this into account, gives us our awesome list above. We hope it was helpful in planning your next family ski vacation.


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    Best Ski Resorts for Beginners In Wisconsin

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