Blackjack Resort, in the western UP's Big Snow Country, plans to remain open for skiing and snowboarding through April 3, and they are offering $99 season passes for the 2011-12 season.

It's the best early season pass sale that I've seen in the Heartland. The offer is good only through March 31, and new pass holders will get $10 off regularly priced lift tickets for the remainder of this season.  Passes for children 12 and under are $59 through the same time period.

Midweek Madness is a weekly pass for $75 that's good Monday through Friday. That's just $15 a day. March is a great time to take advantage of this offer. Midweek lodging is available from $59 per night for efficiency and one-bedroom condo units.

Blackjack came under new ownership and management in 2009 and has made a number of improvements this season. It's being managed by Rick Schmitz, owner and operator of Nordic Mountain Ski Area in Central Wisconsin.

They added more glades, and the resort created its first double-black-diamond slope, The Wall. Terrain park features have been improved.  Just Cuz, the resort's training park, has more small features for those new to the sport. The Lower Park added larger rails, more boxes and jibs, and a rope tow for quick access. The Broad Ax Terrain Park is all new with more jump lines and more medium to large features.