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.
The Buckeye State is one of America's industrial powerhouses, a strong agricultural center and seventh most populous state in the nation. Credit its large student population with a healthy ski industry that packs plenty of fun for skiers and riders onto what can best be described as a modest vertical for skiing Ohio.
But, if you live in Ohio or visit often during the winter, who cares? There’s lots of sliding near the major cities of Cleveland and Columbus and you needn’t worry about long flights and long wintery drives.
Winter hardly shies away from here – the resorts are basically in Ohio's snow belt - so you can generally expect good snow conditions from mid-December (sometimes earlier) into March. The continuous cold weather, natural snow and excellent snowmaking plants at all the ski areas bring nicely groomed slopes for beginners and intermediates. There's some advanced skiing, too, but likely not enough to totally satisfy the best or most adventurous among you.
Another big advantage of living here and enjoying our sport is that night skiing is offered most every evening. So if you have that unfortunate problem of having to work during the day, you can just pop in the car, drive a relatively short distance and play for a few hours under the lights.
Vail Resorts has taken a deep bite into the Ohio ski industry over the past few years by acquiring four of the Buckeye ski areas in 2019, including Boston Mills, Brandywine and Alpine Valley and Mad River Mountain.
Skiing and snowboarding in Ohio can be fun for everyone in the family, However, beginners and those just beyond are going to progress fastest. Take lessons as all the ski schools here are excellent and several, of course, are now part of the Vail learning program – one of the best in the world. The resorts are all in the snow belt, so dressing for success here means bundling up.
The best tip we can offer is try to find a way to get away during the week when the slopes are generally uncrowded – particularly if you are just learning. Check into Vail Resorts’ Epic pass deals if you want whatever variety you can find at Boston Mills, Brandywine and Mad River.
Should you have a disability and want to learn to ski or ride, you're in the right place as there are adaptive skiing learning programs offered at most of the ski areas. You'll find a snow tubing park at each resort as well.
The Ohio Pass is a localized pass offered through the Epic Pass program that provides access to four resorts in Ohio. If you are planning to ski Alpine Valley, Boston Mills, Brandywine, or Mad River Mountain this season on a regular basis, definitely consider this pass. It’s particularly a good deal if you are taking the family West for a ski vacation, too. Vail Resorts owns all these resorts. It is not good at Snow Trails, an independent ski area.
Boston Mills and its twin, Brandywine, about 30 minutes south of Cleveland, have a lift capacity of 20,000 people an hour. The two ski areas owned by Vail Resorts, thus under the same management, are not interconnected, but are located just minutes apart. The vertical is 240 feet. There are 19 runs on 79 skiable acres including four quads, five triples, and two double chairs. Lift tickets are interchangeable between the twins. Night skiing is very popular. The Tiger run at Boston Mills is the steepest slope in the Ohio, but remember that’s relative. No panic needed.
Both ski areas are ideal areas for beginners – great places to hone your skills until, Vail Resorts hopes, you’re ready for those annual family vacations West.
Alpine Valley Ski Resort, about 35 minutes east of Cleveland, in Chesterland, has been a local skiing staple for more than four decades. There's a mogul field off the double chair to challenge more advanced skiers. The slopes here are gentle and forgiving for beginners, there's a good ski school and a large fleet of rental equipment. The Alpine Valley Resort Kids Academy staff is specifically trained in ski lessons for kids.
The vertical drop is just 264 feet and you can play on 72 acres all covered by snowmaking. There are four lifts - two triples, a quad and a conveyor lift- and seven trails and a terrain park. It is also owned by Vail Resorts.
Big Creek ski area has long been owned and maintained by the Cleveland Ski Club for its members and is located about 35 miles from town.
Arguably the best ski resort in the state is Snow Trails. It is the only family-owned and operated independent ski area and is located near Mansfield, Ohio. Many skiers and riders see that as a definite plus in these days of corporately managed resorts, particularly in Ohio. Dave Carto, who died in 2021,was one of the original investors in 1961, the year it opened and, by 1969, he had acquired the resort outright. Today, Scott Crislip, his son-in-law, is president and general manager, while his wife and Carto’s daughter, run the ski shop. His grandchildren run most departments.
So, Snow Trails is a family affair and your family will enjoy experiencing it. It bills itself as Ohio's premier resort for skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing and it lives up to the hype. You'll find Snow Trails an hour’s drive from Columbus, located 1.5 miles off I-71 near Mansfield in the Possum Run Valley. That’s a cold, cold valley, ideal for making and holding onto snow. The area’s cooling tower give it an advantage for making high quality snow. The four terrain parks at Snow Trails are built for laps and learning tricks.
The mountain slopes are mostly intermediate, setting it apart from other areas, though there is still a mixture of bigger and advanced terrain. The vertical is 300 feet and the longest run is a goodly 2,000 feet. All 80 acres of skiable terrain are lit for night skiing. There are four lifts all with a very comfortable carrying capacity.
Enjoy lunch on a 2,400-square-foot sun deck when ‘Ol Sol is shining. The cozy Last Run Bar & Deli offers a quaint, rustic apres-ski experience with pizza, sandwiches and craft beer.
Mad River Mountain is about 50 minutes from Columbus and can lay claim to being the largest in the state The ski area opened in 1962 in Zanesfield and its instructors have taught more than one million people to ski since that time. This family ski area, now owned by Vail Resorts, has a vertical drop of 300 feet, offers one quad, one triple, and three double chairlifts. There are 23 trails spread over 141 acres.
There’s a terrain park and quarter pipe. Located in a scenic section of Ohio near Bellefontaine, this ski area offers a variety of tree-lined runs overlooking dairy farms in the valley. Snowmaking covers the slopes, so a long winter season is virtually assured. Be forewarned: the ski area gets crowed on weekends, so try for a midweek visit.
Most certainly. You can play on 11,806 miles of ski terrain. The ski resorts are served by 34 ski lifts. Vertical drops ranges from 175 feet to 300 feet. There’s excellent snowmaking facilities at every Ohio ski area.
Mad River Mountain is Ohio's largest ski resort and offers to 3.78 miles of ski terrain.
Yes and no. Hocking Hills is Southeastern Ohio's scenic wonderland with literally tons of recreational opportunities in its 9 state parks and sate forests. But, one of those opportunities is not downhill skiing. That sport can’t be found under a two or three hours drive. However, if you are staying at Glenlaurel, a lovely Scottish Inn here, there is some cross-country skiing – but no equipment is available and it is only open to inn guests.
Ohio is a predominantly flat state and those winter winds blow right through it bringing cold and humid air from the Great Lakes. Cold masses invade from the north, finding no natural barriers. Temperature are generally 32 °F to 48 °F. A dense fog can come from the side of Lake Erie, there are often blizzards. It's colder in the northern part of the state. January is the snowiest month in Ohio with 8.7 inches of snow, and 6 months of the year have significant snowfall.
Well, Buckeyes, here’s the deal. Ohio ski resorts are ideal for learning to ski and progressing. The vertical drops are, as they say, nothing to write home about but the snowmaking is just fine and the ski schools are all excellent. The prices are relatively good as well. Intermediates should head to Snow Trails, as 40 percent of its terrain is marked intermediate. Ohio is a good breeding ground for the ski industry, which is why Vail Resorts invested in the four Ohio resorts of Brandywine, Boston Mills, Alpine Valley and Mad River Mountain.