We stayed and skied at the Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena IL
free of charge to experience what this ski resort near Chicago has to offer
I slid forward, idled… A few seconds I got swooped by a wide seat and lifted off the ground. Going, going up up up. The ski lift squeaked as it carried me up the snowy Chestnut mountain. I dangled my skis trying to get comfortable and looked down onto the ski slopes. Swoosh – another skier flew under me toward the bottom of the mountain.
The Rookie’s Ridge
Chestnut Mountain Resort
Chestnut Mountain Resort is located on the top of the Chestnut Mountain near Galena IL. It’s about 2.5 hours away from the North West suburbs of Chicago where we live. We got to this ski resort near Chicago the night before and had plenty of time to explore THE SUNSET GRILLE RESTAURANT, MOUNTAIN TOP CAFÉ of the midwest family vacation resort. We stood on the top of the Midwest mountain for a while watching groups of people push the ski poles into the snow and disappear off the top of the hills. The night ski and resort’s bright spotlights made the scene especially mesmerizing!
The Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena IL opens its ski season on Thanksgiving and runs it through St. Patrick’s day. Chestnut Mountain Resort in summer opens a whole different set of activities including a Missippi cruise, zip line, and an Alpine slide that will carry you 475-foot down to the bottom of the mountain.
This 475-foot vertical drop is now covered by the thick layer of snow to accommodate 19 ski and snowboarding trails, ranging from novice to black diamond. The longest run is 3,500 ft. and one of the lifts is always nearby to take you back to the top.
Am I ready to try the Old Main again?
As soon as the class ended, we went to the Old Main again. My son took off first and disappeared around the corner while I proceeded cautiously. With a freshly acquired confidence, I pointed my skis downhill.
Two falls later I was at the bottom of the mountain. Let’s do it again!
From the lift and onto the trail – only one fall this time. Again!
I finally made it to the bottom of the mountain without a single fall. Yes!
Proud of my achievement I decided to go to the smaller
Rookie’s Ridge and work more on my technique. I felt more comfortable on a shorter trail, and I still got to ride the lift back.
Being here on the top of the Chestnut Mountain Resort seemed like an ideal escape. From the lift, I could see the windows of the resort restaurant. People here seem more relaxed and happy, actually having conversations while sharing appetizers while still wearing ski jackets and hats. With the phones packed away in the jacket pockets, it’s easy to forget about technology and relax. A gorgeous vista view from the top of the snowy Illinois mountain onto the frozen Mississipi river ads to the serenity.
The next time I saw my son he cried:
As I once again moved toward the Rookie’s Ridge, he couldn’t make up his mind. The Old Main again or the Black Hawk (a trail marked on the map as an intermediate route)? He pushed his ski poles into the snow and disappeared onto the Black Hawk – the kid is fearless!
The boy is having fun! Tomorrow is Monday, a school day with a limited time to move, but today he can go as fast or as slow as he wants.
Up up up goes the lift. I looked down onto the trail with teenage-girl snowboarding confidently downhill. A little kid, four or five years old, sliding down with a minimal effort. He slowed down and in the process got turned around. Swiftly his back was facing the bottom of the hill. He continued moving a little slower yet with the same confidence – amazing!
A day earlier I walked through The Powder Pups Program area and instantly thought of my youngest one. I want to bring him here next year to ski in Galena IL. The Powder Pups Program is for young skiers, as young as 4, aged 4-12, and focuses on ski games and small group activities that will help your little skier learn basic moves like snowplow turns and stops. I want to see my little one tackle the slopes with ease! Is it too much to ask?
THREE TIPS TO BETTER SKIING
at the Chestnut Mountain Resort in Galena IL
- Get to the Mountain early. While many skiers love spending a whole day skiing, you won’t see the crowds on the slopes at 10 AM. The hotel will also sometimes let you keep the room until 4 pm for a little extra.
- Take a refresher or a beginner course. If you are a parent who hasn’t skied in over 20 years, you will enjoy your ski day so much more if you start it with a group class. Chestnut Mountain’s instructors break students into smaller groups. Our group included my son and me.
- Ski on the budget Skiing might get expensive. That’s why if you want to try skiing near Chicago, you might want to consider this midwest family vacation scenario. Travel to the Chestnut Mountain, Galena IL resort midweek. They stay two nights – get a third night free. Besides that, kids 12 & under stay & ski Free w/ two paying adults. You save more if you bring your equipment, but if you don’t own ski equipment, don’t chase stores for sales now – rent!