A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
You most likely won't place an Indiana ski vacation as top-of-mind because the mountains aren’t exactly “Rocky Mountainesque” and the average natural snowfall of about 18-22 inches won’t elicit dreams of deep powder. But, hold on. Skiing and riding in the Hoosier State is very popular. It's two ski resorts, both south of Indianapolis, are excellent places to learn and play before hopping on a plane or driving a good distance for more adventure. Ski and snowboard lessons will speed you along.
Both Paoli Peaks and Perfect North get enough traffic to be attractive as feeder areas to the big Western resorts. To that end, Paoli Peaks was acquired by Vail Resorts in 2019. Chip Perfect, an Indiana politician, is the owner of Perfect North and he went the other direction, acquiring bankrupt Timberline Ski Area in West Virginia and bringing it back to life.
The drive from the major population base of Indianapolis to Paoli Peaks is just under 2 hours and Perfect North Slopes is about 1.5 hours. But, Perfect North is only 33 minutes from Cincinnati, Ohio, while Paoli Peaks is 2.5 hours. Both resorts have an equipment rental shop.
Paoli Peaks is a day ski area, nestles comfortably into the heart of Southwest Indiana. The vertical drop is only 300 feet but empties onto 65 acres and 15 trails with 25 percent beginner, 55 percent intermediate and 20 percent advanced terrain. Not too much to scare you, though. There are 8 lifts including 1 quad chair and 3 surface lifts for beginners and children. There are 2 terrain parks including The Bonk for newbies and Pioneer Park for more experienced tricksters. There are a number of lodging choices if you plan on a weekend stay, but not directly on the mountain. French Lick is only 15 minutes away (see Cool Ski Towns below).
Perfect North Slopes is a day ski resort in Southeast Indiana offering skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing park. Perfect North is a bit larger than Paoli Peaks with a 400-foot vertical drop and 100 skiable acres. The 23 trails include 12 rated intermediate, 5 beginner and 3 most difficult. There are 3 terrain parks, 2 of which are for experienced players and 1 for beginners. There’s a ski and snowboard school and a tubing hill with 23 lanes adjacent to the ski slopes. Perfect North’s snowmaking arsenal can cover its entire mountain and tubing area at the same time. There is adequate lodging for weekenders within 5 miles of Perfect North, but none on the mountain.
There are two ski areas in Indiana: Paoli Peaks and Perfect North Slopes. You can ski, ride or go tubing day and night at both.
What’s your definition of good skiing? If it’s being able to have fun skiing and riding and tubing all day and into the night – even on a small mountain – the answer is decidedly “yes.” But if you are looking for a destination resort experience, not so much.
Do you mean the stuff that falls from the sky? If so, Perfect North receives from 18-22 inches of natural snowfall each winter. But snow shot from guns is real snow, too, and they’ve got you covered.
Sure you can. Both Paoli Peaks and Perfect North welcome snowboarders.
The cold season lasts for a bit over three months, from December to early March, with an average daily high temperature below 46°F. The coldest month of the year in Indiana is January, with an average low of 22°F and high of 37°F. There can be cold and bitter days, so plan to bundle up.
There are some fun towns near the ski areas, though probably not truly “ski towns.” French Lick is a town in southern Indiana about 15 minutes from Paoli Peaks and is known for its historic mineral springs. Consider a stay at the historic French Lick Spring Hotel.
Lawrenceburg, Ohio is located just 7 miles from Perfect North Slopes. It was an important trading center for riverboats on the Ohio River in the 19th century. Shop downtown with its historic buildings, unique shops and a variety of restaurants.
You will drive if you live in Indiana or close-by states. But, if you want to fly here to ski for some reason (while visiting Grandma’s house for Christmas?), head into Indianapolis International Airport and rent a car. However, you can take a ride on J2Ski transfers from Louisville’s Mohammad Ali Airport.