Illinois: Skiing And Boarding In The Land Of Lincoln -

Illinois is home to Norge Ski Club, the oldest continuously operating ski area in the United States. The club, dedicated to ski jumping, was started in 1905 by a group of Norwegian men from the Chicago area.

That fabulous city was once the gateway to the vast American West, as millions of settlers in search of new lives joined the movement to turn prairie into farmland. Chicago's stockyards were second to none in the 19th century, and the city became a major port and commercial center serving the American heartland.

Chestnut Mountain is one of the top snowboarding resorts in the Lower Midwest

Illinois, known variously as The Prairie State and Land of Lincoln, is home to several thriving ski resorts. They draw enthusiastic customers from the populous northeast corner of the state, where two-thirds of Illinois residents live.

Chestnut Mountain perches high on a ridge overlooking the Mississippi River near the historic river port of Galena. Nineteen trails cutting through solid rock bluffs range up to 3,500 feet in length and are geared to all levels. The slopes are served by two quad chairs, four triples, and three surface lifts. The 7-acre Far Side Terrain Park, complete with its own triple, features a quarter pipe, two half pipes, and lots of rails, kickers and jumps. Chestnut has a 475-foot vertical drop. A hotel and 20,000-square-foot full-service Village Ski Center are located on top of the ski hill.

A snowboarder drops in at the Snowstar Spring-shred event

Ski Snowstar in West Andalusia has a vertical of 262 feet, 28 acres of terrain, 14 trails, and the longest run is three-quarters of a mile. There's 100 percent snowmaking, night skiing, two quad chairs, a double, rope tow and two magic carpets. The area creates terrain features on all trails, moving them regularly to keep things interesting. A five-lane snowtubing park has its own carpet lift. Snowstar is 10 minutes from the Quad Cities off State Route 92.

Villa Olivia is the closest skiing and riding to Chicagoland, less than an hour away depending on where you live in the metropolitan area. The hill has a small 180-foot vertical drop, a quarter-mile run, and a quad chair. There is night skiing and snowboarding every night and there's a tubing center. There's more good news: adult lift tickets are $29 during the week and $37 on weekends and during holiday periods.

Other areas include Four Lakes, Plumtree Ski Area, and Raging Buffalo.

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