In the land of cheese, bratwursts and beer – Wisconsin – there is more than heavy food and drink. Snowboarding enthusiasts will be delighted with a less-publicized product of Wisconsin that is light and fluffy.
So-called “lake-effect” snow constantly falls near Wisconsin’s coastlines along Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. This is different than the lake nearest you, because you need a really big lake to get lake-effect snow. Such as a Great Lake.
Skies can be clear in other places, but lake-effect snow still will be falling in these areas. Don’t worry, snowboarders, this doesn’t mean that you’re going daffy. This happens because the water quantity is so great on the Great Lakes that the water stays warmer compared to inland lakes, ponds and rivers, which freeze over. The frigid winter air hits this warmer Great Lakes’ water, and there you have it: lake-effect snow.
Buffalo, Syracuse and New York’s entire northwest, upstate areas get socked for a similar reason, but Wisconsin gets less attention for its prodigious snowfalls. For example, Crystal Ridge Ski Area and Wilmot Mountain are located just a few miles from downtown Milwaukee, and Milwaukee = lake effect (as well as beer). If you head 35 north of Milwaukee, you will encounter Sunburst Ski Area, where the lake effect is in full effect. Then there’s Hidden Valley Ski Area near Green Bay, but don’t try to get Packers’ football tickets, because there is something like a 20-year waiting list, and Packers fans generally aren’t into scalping.
You can find great Wisconsin inland locations as well for a day of snowboarding, a weekend, a full vacation or even a reasonably priced season pass for just a few hundred bucks. Wisconsin is by no means a mountainous state, but the glaciers left behind some really neat gorges and long sloping hills. For example, there’s Granite Peak, which is smack dab in the center of the state. You can get a 700-foot vertical at Granite Peak, which is virtually unheard of in the Midwest.
The snowboarding culture is fully alive in Wisconsin, sparked in part by the presence of the University of Wisconsin’s main campus at Madison and other campuses that dot the state. UW is known both as a liberal school and a party school. Hey, what can you say about a school that had its marching band suspended this fall for hazing?
Also recommended: Tyrol Basin, Alpine Valley and Mt. La Crosse.