When it comes to winter sports, like skiing, the western Rockies get all the glory. There’s no doubt they deserve a great deal of this — the slopes within the Rocky Mountain states are undeniably beautiful.
For someone like me, though? Growing up outside of Cleveland, Ohio, the daunting slopes of Colorado were a distant dream. Instead, I relied on smaller, more conservative ski resorts that were within driving distance. Despite being a bit slim on mountains, Ohioans love skiing (and snowboarding), and some of my earliest memories involve catapulting myself down a slope at full speed.
The Benefits of Skiing Near Cleveland
Despite the fact that Great Lakes skiing is something like the small, forgotten cousin of Rocky Mountain skiing, that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a trip. In fact, after finally making it to Colorado, I’m convinced that some of the skiing near Cleveland is actually some of the best skiing.
Check out a few reasons why you should consider the Great Lakes region for your next ski or snowboard trip. At the bottom of the post I’ve also included a list of resorts that are within reasonable driving distance from Cleveland.
Benefit #1: Shorter Lift Lines
No one likes waiting in line, especially if it’s a cold, crowded lift line. Luckily, some of the ski resorts near Cleveland can offer relief from the never-ending queues that sometimes form at the bottom of a mountain.
While every resort has its busy time, many hardcore skiers and vacationers head west to the Rockies or north to New England during ski season, leaving these resorts a bit less crowded. This is especially true in the evenings and non-holiday weekends, when it’s not uncommon to hop right back onto a lift after reaching the bottom of the hill. Which is good, because the slopes themselves are quite a bit shorter than those out west.
Which leads us to…
Benefit #2: Manageable Runs
Holiday Valley, one of my favorite Great Lakes ski resorts, boasts a single run that is a mile long. You won’t find many slopes longer than that, a length that is dwarfed when compared to the mammoth runs out west. I seriously didn’t believe that Rocky Mountain runs had lodges halfway down until I saw it for myself.
These shorter slopes can be a blessing in disguise. Shorter runs allow you to explore more of the mountain while giving your legs a bit of a rest as you go up the lift. They also make it easier to keep with a large group and are less intimidating for beginners.
As an added bonus, if you abruptly decide that you’re done for the day, the trek back to the lodge is usually quick and painless — unlike out West, where it can take hours just to get back to your starting point.
Benefit #3: Lake Effect Snow
The Great Lakes is well known for its snow, and Cleveland is no exception to this.
Lake effect snow will frequently dump foot upon foot of fresh powder on the slopes, making the skiing near Cleveland fairly reliable. There are snow makers, of course, for the leaner years, but usually the snow that falls naturally is more than enough to provide great ground cover. The snow is typically of a good consistency for skiing too, without too much ice or slush mixed in.
Benefit #4: Affordability
Skiing will never be a frugal hobby. Between transportation, lodging, lift tickets, and meals the price can skyrocket quickly. Often times, mountain ski towns are far away from main cities and towns, forcing visitors to rely on whatever is available locally, which sometimes can be more expensive.
That said, there are benefits to choosing a ski resort in the Great Lakes region. These resorts are often a little closer to main towns than their western cousins, making it easy to find familiar, cost-effective stores. Additionally, lift tickets are often a bit cheaper here than out west, making a full day (or several days) of skiing much more cost effective.
Skiing Near Cleveland: Top Four Resorts:
Are you excited to hit the slopes yet? I hope so. As a Great Lakes girl, I find skiing throughout the region exhilarating and fun.
Here are the four ski resorts near Cleveland that I’ve spent the most time visiting, ordered by distance from the city.
Distance from Cleveland: 21.6 miles
2015-2016 Lift Ticket Prices: $43 (All Day)
Boston Mills Brandywine offers you the benefits of two resorts for the price of one. It’s a small resort, only half an hour away from downtown Cleveland, and great for family trips or beginners. If you’re looking for more advanced slopes, they typically build out an area with moguls, jumps, and expert slopes in addition to their beginner slopes.
Distance from Cleveland: 31.7 miles
2015-2016 Lift Ticket Prices: $43 (All Day)
Alpine Valley is the smallest on the list, and a great option for beginners. You can easily ski the entire thing in one day, but they go out of their way to add in a few challenging extras for the more experienced skier. It’s also closer enough to Cleveland to visit in a day trip, taking only about 45 minutes to drive to from downtown.
Distance from Cleveland: 119 miles
2015-2016 Lift Ticket Prices: $47 (All Day)
Almost every winter my family would make a trip to Peek n’ Peak. About two hours away from Cleveland, this resort is far more robust than Alpine Valley and Boston Mills Brandywine. With 27 runs, you can fill a day on slopes that are geared to every skill level. They also have a programs for first timers, with ski lessons throughout the day.
Distance from Cleveland:
2015-2016 Lift Ticket Prices: $69 (All Day)
Moving a little further away (but not too far!) Holiday Valley has some of the most diverse slope offerings near Cleveland. With 52 runs you can spend a day here and not ski the entire resort. Holiday Valley is also the only resort on this list that offers a double black diamond for expert skiers. This is definitely a great place for more seasoned skiers, but it also has plenty to offer beginners. There are a number of beginner and intermediate slopes, including the mile long Mardi Gras slope.
So, the next time you’re thinking of breaking out the skis, hold off before you buy that ticket to Denver.
Instead, look east.