The Whitecap Mountains, located in northern Wisconsin's snowbelt within sight of Lake Superior, has some of the most Western-like terrain found in the Heartland. There are cliffs, chutes, and boulders. The terrain spreads across three peaks and most of it - unlike the majority of Midwest ski areas - can't be seen from the base lodge.
Whitecap Mountain serves as an entrance into the area with one chairlift and a half-dozen easier runs, but another 30 trails and five more chairlifts - three doubles, one triple and one quad - are found on Thunderhead Mountain and Eagle Nest Mountain.
Thunderhead has two distinct sides. The north face is a collection of expert and intermediate runs that tumble down to Weber Lake. The south face contains huge expanses of beginner terrain such as Sud Bowl. A stop at the Wine Hut, nestled along the lakeshore, is a must. It's an 1880 logger's cabin and makes a great place to relax and enjoy a spiced wine by a warm cozy fire.
Eagle Nest is for those that like the steep and deep. Four rock-strewn, boulder-laden, double-black trails offer a stiff challenge. The Dragon and Southern Cross are narrow chutes that require jump turns to negotiate; shades of Stowe and Nose Dive.
Another unique feature at Whitecap is the Midwest's longest chairlift, which connects Thunderhead and Eagle Nest Mountains. It's a mile long and more than 200 feet aloft at the highest point. Tighten your seat belt, if there was one, and hopefully you aren't afraid of heights. There is no safety bar.
The base area is designed to resemble a Swiss village complete with its own clock tower. The day lodge, an eclectic design with lots of nooks and crannies, features a quaint wine shop and a wonderful, old-fashioned bakery with lots of tasty pastries and hearty breads.
It's located near Hurley, which has a bit of a reputation of its own. It was a popular getaway spot for Chicago gangsters during the Prohibition Era. Allegedly Al Capone, John Dillinger, and Baby Face Nelson were frequent visitors. Today, it's a great ski town with lots entertaining bars and restaurants.
It is definitely worth checking out, if you haven't been yet. It's great Midwest skiing and riding, and, in my opinion, some of the most unusual terrain found around the Great Lakes Region. You can purchase a 10-Ticket Downhill Punch Card for $275 up until Nov. 26. The card gives you 10 visits anytime during the season, or 10 people on one day; any combination you choose. A full day adult lift ticket is $45, a considerable savings over the daily rate.