For the first time, Ski Brule cracks the Midwest Top 10, powered by a simple philosophy: More is better. "Earliest opening and latest closing," applauds one diehard reader. The area stretched last winter's ski season from Nov. 21 to April 18, providing the region's skiers with more ski days than any other Midwest resort. Brule made good use of all those days by giving skiers a lot for a little, scoring high marks for Value and Family Programs. The resort's 17 trails meld nicely into the family-fun theme, dropping off two sides of the peak with runs for all abilities. On the front (the Brule side), the runs are expansive with lots of headwalls. Also on the frontside is Snowshoe, home to a halfpipe and terrain park. Off the back of the peak (the Homestead side), long intermediate cruisers slice through a pine forest down to the Homestead Lodge, which dates back to 1891. Snuggling up to one of the Homestead's pot-bellied stoves for a hot cider is a sublime Brule treat. Family activities like sleigh rides, marshmallow roasts and tubing are also perfect toppers to Brule ski days. One reader sums it up perfectly: "Ski Brule is a good family resort for all ages." Added to this is an almost fanatical devotion by the Ski Brule staff to spreading good cheer. Owner Steve Polich says, "We're not the biggest or fanciest ski area, but the two things we can be are the nicest and friendliest."
WHAT'S NEW Tubing park, remodeled and expanded rental center and increased snowmaking.
A GOOD DEAL $20 advance lift tickets valid anytime during 2002-03, with no restrictions; available online at www.skibrule.com.
HIGH/LOW MW RANK Value (2), Family Programs (2), Off-Hill Activities (2); Dining (19), Lifts (21), Challenge (22).
DON'T MISS Homestead barbecue, sleigh ride and tubing on Thursday and Saturday nights at the Homestead Lodge.
READER REMARKS (+) "Always well groomed; long season."
(-) "Only two chairlifts open during the week."