Illinois ski resorts come to life once the weather turns cold, especially in December and January. While the state's neighbors to the north may receive more annual snowfall, the collection of Illinois ski areas are vibrant and exciting places to visit in the wintertime. After the snow is retreated, these outdoor spaces turn into excellent places for taking in the beautiful surrounds and enjoying the great outdoors.
Villa Olivia gives Chicago residents and visitors the chance to ski Illinois without leaving the Chicago area. This resort in suburban Bartlett, known for its golf during the warmer months of the year, transforms into a winter haven that offers a dozen downhill trails and a vertical drop of 180 feet, spread over fifteen skiable acres. The various trails have been rated for skiers of all levels, and a quad chairlift can get everyone to the top of the hill in no time. Villa Olivia also offers snowboarding and tubing as well as lessons for all of these. Typically open between mid-December and the President's Day weekend, this option for Illinois ski resorts stays open seven days a week in season, so you won't miss any of the action.
Four Lakes Ski Resort, another choice for Illinois ski areas close to Chicago, is located in Lisle. An easy drive from the shopping and museums of the Loop, this small-yet-welcoming place to ski Illinois is a fun place to experience winter. With a vertical drop of 100 feet and nine skiable acres, the numbers may not be as large as some resorts in the Midwest, but you'll still find plenty of thrills. The guides stationed at Four Lakes have the attitude that anyone can learn how to ski or snowboard, and lessons are a lot of fun no matter your skill level. The snowmaking equipment has full coverage, supplementing the 34 inches of natural snow that fall in an average season. After winter has wrapped up, Four Lakes turns into a great place for hiking and connecting with nature.
Ski Snowstar also receives the same amount of snow in an average wintertime. This destination is located in western Illinois, not far from the Mississippi River and the Iowa border in the town of Andalusia. This option for Illinois ski resorts in the Quad Cities offers 28 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical drop of 262 feet and a valley floor of 528 feet. Its fourteen trails can accommodate all kind of skiers, everyone from absolute beginners to experts. Thanks to the powerful snow guns and the weather conditions, the season here is a little longer than some of the Illinois ski areas; in this case, early December well into March. Night skiing is available on all hills. In addition, Ski Snowstar also is home to a terrain park offering an array of snowboarding challenges and a fun tubing hill.
The largest of Illinois ski resorts is also found in Western Illinois in the charming town of Galena. Chestnut Mountain (pictured), a full-service resort, is packed with things to enjoy both indoors and out. Boasting a 475-vertical drop and a potential operating season over 130 days, this resort is a option for skiers of all levels. Besides the nineteen trails, Chestnut Mountain is home to a terrain park that stretches over seven acres, a full-service lodge, a spa, and several dining options. In the summer, guests enjoy mountain biking, the Alpine slide, and cruises of the Mississippi River, among other fun things to do.
All over the state, you'll find people strapping on cross-country skis and snowshoes. Many of these people are planning visits to the state parks and other natural areas so they can ski Illinois. Pere Marquette, the largest of the state parks, is located along the Great River Road, just outside of Grafton. If you time it just right, you may even have the chance to see a bald eagle. In the winter, these magnificent birds pass through in large numbers, especially in January.