Wisconsin has a lot to offer, but mountains aren’t exactly on the list. Yet there are ways to hit the slopes without having to break the bank and fly out west. Did you know Wisconsin has 30 different downhill ski and snowboard areas? One favorite is Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort. Nestled half way between Chicago and Milwaukee, 45 minutes from each, it’s a great beginner slope, perfect for kids.
For years it seemed Wilmot, Wisconsin, was frozen in time. Family-owned since it was opened 80 years ago, the owners hadn’t added a lift since 1978. That all changed recently. Since being purchased by Vail Resorts and becoming part of the Epic ski pass program, Wilmot has seen a flurry of upgrades.
After being purchased by Vail, this modest Midwest ski slope has made big improvements. A $13 million renovation means three new chair lifts, a new kids’ ski/snowboard school and upgraded terrain park.
With millions being plowed into Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort’s nine ski lifts, it’s probably no surprise that daily lift tickets have gone up. It used to be $49 on weekends and $39 during the week for adults. Now it’s $66 on weekends and $56 weekdays. Kids are $5 less. You save another $5 by coming in after 3 p.m.
Wilmot has a great program of ski and snowboard lessons for every age. Vail Resorts sees these modest Midwestern day resorts as a way to get families hooked on skiing, and, eventually, invest in that more expensive ski vacation out west.
Lessons start for kids as young as three years old. There are both private lessons and racing programs that meet regularly on weekends to help kids develop their skills. First timers should try out the one hour Bunny Hill Basics class, offered on Wednesday evenings throughout the season, starting in January. You can buy a one hour ski lesson with lift tickets and ski rental for $50. This is an extremely affordable way to give skiing a try. Bunny Hill Basics is for kids or adults, 7 and up.
Kids who are really enjoying the sport can consider joining the junior race team that meets every Saturday and Sunday. Another great program at Wilmot is Ski Girls Rock. This two-day program used to be offered exclusively at Vail and Beaver Creek. It’s led by female instructors who focus not only on skiing but empowering girls. The two-day program is $160, plus the cost of lift tickets and rentals.
Adults can either sign up for private or group ski or snowboard lessons. One hour starts at $90. Or join a 90 minute group lesson that costs only $30. These lessons are about a third of what you’d pay for lessons at big name western ski resorts.
Our 10 year-old daughter could go up and down Wilmot’s slopes all day, but Mom and Dad occasionally needed a break. Luckily, Wilmot has completely renovated its base lodge. At Walt’s Tavern, you can snuggle up by the fireplace with a cup of coffee, or hot toddy, and a good book. Huge windows overlooking beginner ski slopes mean Mom and Dad can relax in comfort while still keeping an eye on the kids.
Wilmot’s dining options used to resemble something closer to what you might find at a roller rink. Not anymore. Walt’s Tavern has a full menu of items for every appetite.
We enjoyed the Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl and the massive nachos. But they also had your basic burger, soups and salads.
If your child wants to go skiing several times this winter, consider investing in a season pass. An adult season pass to just Wilmot is $560. But Wilmot is part of what’s known as the Epic Pass, and that’s worth the extra money, if you might want to try skiing at any of their other dozen U.S. resorts. For adults, the year-long Epic Pass is $949. Or you can buy an Epic 4 or 7 day pass, $490 and $710, respectively.
For kids, the only season pass option is a $500 Epic pass. There’s no pass for just Wilmot. That Epic pass gets your child unlimited access to all the other ski resorts owned by Vail—big Colorado names like Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, Utah’s Park City, Vermont’s Stowe and several Lake Tahoe resorts. This might just be the year to take that world-class ski trip out west.
Have you ever skied in Wisconsin? If so, what’s your favorite Wisconsin ski resort?