Cascade, Wis.: Rank 3 West of Lake Michigan, 1998


Cascade, located just a stone's throw from the busy I-90/I-94 corridor, is considered the top day-trip area in the Midwest. Chicago is three hours away, Milwaukee is less than two, and Madison, Wis., just 30 minutes. This is a skier's mountain, and Cascade provides that service as well as anyone in the Midwest. The 460-foot ski hill caters to the advanced skier, but over the past few years Cascade has added a number of beginner runs and lifts to round out its image. One of the last ski areas in the heartland to allow snowboarders, Cascade now welcomes them with open arms and three halfpipes. Cascade's bump runs are among the Midwest's finest. Mogul Monster, with Volkswagen-sized bumps, is open to expert skiers only. Next door, the aptly named North Wall is wide, steep and fast. Cascade's left side (looking up) is devoted to advanced skiers only. The upper part of the hill is covered with pine trees, reminding one of high-altitude Western areas. There are 1,500 beds within 20 minutes of Cascade, though none slopeside.

What's New Wisconsin's first high-speed quad cuts the trip from the base of Cascade to the summit from nine to two-and-a-half minutes.
A Good Deal On Dec. 4, 11 and 18, first-time skiers will get free lessons, rentals and a beginner area pass. You must be at least 10, and call ahead for a reservation; (608) 742-5588.
High/Low Rank Access (3), Snow (9); Food and Dining (16), Service (17).
Don't Miss Getting to the area early on Saturday and skiing late on Sunday to avoid large weekend crowds.