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Iowa Ski Area Guide -- Very Complete

  • Mt. Crescent, Crescent 40 skiable acres on 300' vertical
    crescent ski area Specs: Summit elevation: 1500'; Base elevation: 1200'. 4 Lifts: 1 quad, 1 double, 2 surface. Uphill Capacity: 3,200/hr. Terrain Mix: 33-34-33. Longest Run: 2200'. Season: usually December through mid-March. Night Skiing 7 days; Open Saturdays till 3:00 am (Sun). Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 30". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Here's a converted cornfield offering skiing just a stone's throw from Omaha. Not a bad little hill; a bit crowded in the evenings. Annual pass seems like a decent deal; daily lift ticket prices semi-reasonable. As ski areas go, you know, it's nicely done...almost feels like a New England ski area.


  • Fun Valley, Montezuma 35 skiable acres on 240' vertical
    Specs: Summit elevation: 1240'; Base elevation: 1000'. 4 Lifts: 1 triple, 2 doubles, 1 surface. Uphill Capacity: 4,800/hr. Terrain Mix: 40-40-20. Longest Run: 1500'. Season: usually December through mid-March, Tues-Sun. Night Skiing. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 30". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Remember that winter day at the school yard when you were a kid...sleigh riding, a couple kids with strapped on skis, hot chocolate, maybe a toboggan or two? Fun Valley is kind of like that, only bigger -- with skiers and snowboarders instead of toboggans. Best of all, you don't have to plod up the hill in the funny looking boots your mom made you wear.
    Signature Trail: Tally-Ho


  • Nor-Ski Runs, Decorah 30 skiable acres on 250' vertical
    Specs: 3 Lifts: 2 j-bars, 1 rope tow. Terrain Mix: 50-34-16 Longest Run: 1,200 ft. Season: CLOSED.
    The SKInny: Now a "lost" ski area. Nothing troubles me more than to type those words...this was a local "Town tow" community ski area, open when conditions allowed. There are fewer and fewer of these places...I often wonder why more communities don't support operations like Nor-Ski, and why the communities that have them allow them to fade away. When you see the Nor-Skis of the world, you need to do whatever you can to support these ski areas.


  • Riverside Hills, Estherville 40 skiable acres on 190' vertical
    Specs: 3 Lifts: 2 t-bars, 1 rope tow. Terrain Mix: 20-40-40. Uphill capacity: 4,800/hr. Longest Run: 2000'. Season: usually December through March; Weds-Sun. Night Skiing. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 60". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Small timey hill for locals; see description for Nor-Ski immediately above. You know, a lot of people from east or west pooh-pooh these little hills, but be assured there are quite a few of us who would love to spend a morning at the Riverside Hills of this world, just to say we were there. Any ski area -- no matter how small, no matter how flat -- is important and deserves our support in this age of litigation.


  • Seven Oaks, Boone 30 skiable acres on 275' vertical
    Specs: 3 Lifts: 1 triple, 2 surface. Terrain Mix: 20-40-40. Uphill capacity: 3600/hr. Longest Run: 1800'. Season: usually December through March. Night Skiing; closed Thurs. nights. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 30". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: Well, you know you have to pay the bills somehow. Skiing isn't exactly a sideline, but we're not sure it's the main attraction at Seven Oaks since the only photograph on their website is a bride and groom cutting a cake. Anyway, we like this place: reasonable prices, and a darn decent vertical.
    Signature Trail: Drop Zone.


  • Sleepy Hollow Sports Park, Des Moines 20 skiable acres on 100' vertical
    Specs: 3 Lifts: 1 quad, 2 rope tow. Longest Run: 1000'. Season: usually December through March; Weds-Sun plus holidays. Night Skiing. Rentals. Snowmaking.
    The SKInny: Imagine a water park, except with snow and lots of Des Moines youth trying desperately to be king of the hill. Anyway, the rates are great and the atmosphere is good fun for beginners.


  • Sundown Mountain Resort, Dubuque 55 skiable acres on 475' vertical
    Specs: 7 Lifts: 1 quad, 2 triples, 2 doubles, 2 surface. Terrain Mix: 40-40-20. Uphill capacity: 9000/hr. Longest Run: 4000'. Season: usually late November through mid-March. Night Skiing 7 days. Rentals. Annual Snowfall: 45". Snowmaking: 100%.
    The SKInny: This is an upside-down (lodge at the top) ski area that -- surprisingly -- almost looks like a regular ski area such as you might find further east. Trails are cut through a wooded hill that was once an undeveloped buffer between farmland. Fights with Illinois' Chestnut for the Quad Cities ski dollar; it's a toss-up. Probably the top ski area in the state. Let's face it, this sort of vertical is tough to come by in the midwest. If you can catch Sundown on a weekday morning, you've got a great day of skiing ahead.
    Signature Trail: Gun Barrel.



Key

Lifts We don't consider a ski area's tubing-only lifts as part of the total. Signature Trail Is mostly subjective. Whether it's history, reputation, the view, or degree of difficulty...it's the run you have to do, even if it isn't necessarily the best the resort has to offer.

Finally, a note about ski area statistics: Although it's hard to believe, some ski areas are (gasp!) less than truthful with their numbers. Like the guy who lies about his, uh, shoe size, some ski areas believe that inflated numbers make their resort sound more appealling. When these numbers are obviously questionable, we put a note: (?!) and will attempt to verify the legitimacy of the claim.

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