By Nancy R. Elliott The Herald Bulletin
The Herald Bulletin
---- — Snow. It happens every year in Indiana and right now we have tons of it, so why not make the best of it? Sure, you can ice skate or sled right here in Madison County, but if you’re hankering for a little more snow adventure, Indiana’s got that, too. It’s just not that far to an in-state ski or snowboard destination.
One of those winter fun spots is Paoli Peaks. Head south on Interstate 69 to Indiana 37, and in under three hours, you can be at the lodge. Once on site, take your pick. Paoli Peaks offers downhill skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. It’s open seven days a week through mid-March.
“It’s tailored perfectly to beginners,” said Lauren Grenier of Paoli Peaks. “They’re able to get comfortable with skiing or snowboarding.” The resort has a nice, long gradual slope that is great for getting into the snow groove.
Ski and board
While beginners find a welcome launch pad in Paoli Peaks, there’s really something for everyone. Paoli’s natural hill, with its 300-foot vertical drop, has 15 trails of varying difficulty. There’s plenty of ways to get to the top, including double, triple and quad chair lifts, surface carpets and rope tow. There are beginner, intermediate and advanced options to get back down.
Paoli also offers two freestyle terrain parks for the intrepid types.
“It’s kind of the play area for those looking for a little more fun and a little more extreme experience,” said Grenier. The Bonk is suitable for youngsters or beginners. Once you’ve bonked, you may be ready to tackle the Empire with more challenging rails, boxes and jumps to put you through your paces.
The price for a lift ticket for a Saturday adult day session at Paoli Peaks is $41. That keeps you skiing or snowboarding from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. On Fridays and Saturdays, the twilight session runs from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. with a reduced rate. There’s also the midnight session from 8 p.m. to 3 a.m. People with day lift tickets can upgrade to expand their ski or board time.
You can rent your equipment right there at the Paoli Pro Shop. $29 covers everything you need.
Ski and snowboard lessons are available in a variety of formats, including group lessons for those 7 years and up based on age and ability. Private lessons or semi-private lessons that accommodate families are also options. Three-hour kid-specific lessons for skiing or snowboarding for youngsters 5 to 12 years of age are available, too.
“We call them Snow Monsters,” said Grenier. “It really gives kids a chance to learn and practice what they’re learning.”
When you’re not flying through the snow, you can hang out in the lodge, which happens to be at the top, not the bottom of the hill. Grenier said that Paoli Peaks is one of just a few such “inverted” arrangements in the country.
The lodge is where you’ll find the fix for the appetite you worked up out on the slopes.
“I feel like we offer everything under the sun,” said Grenier of their casual, cafeteria-style restaurant. “We make our own pizza.” Although the pizza’s a specialty, there’s tons of options from hamburgers to Philly stakes, deli sandwiches, salads and soups. “Even a picky eater should be able to eat at our restaurant.”
Back out in the snow, Paoli Peaks has another fun snow option – tubing. The tubing area has its own lodge with concessions and its own parking area.
“That’s perfect for everyone – no skills required,” said Grenier. $25 buys a three-hour session including the tube, use of the lanes and the rides up on the carpet. There’s up to nine lanes, each 700 feet long.
While Paoli Peaks is a day lodge, turn it into a weekend or more by staying nearby at any of a number of accommodations. There are several that partner with Paoli Peaks to offer packaging options or discount coupons to their overnight guests.