Best Skiing In Illinois: Guide For Best Mountains and Dates for Prime Snow Conditions

Written by Hannah Ward
Published: February 25, 2023
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Illinois is known as one of the flattest states in the US, so you’re not going to find huge resorts with steep mountain slopes. However, it does receive an average of around 36 inches of snowfall per year, mainly during the cold and windy winter months. Therefore, Illinois does have a few good places where you can ski. So, let’s discover the best skiing in Illinois and learn when the best time of the year is to visit its ski resorts.

1. Chestnut Mountain Resort

LocationBest Time to VisitAverage Snowfall
Galena, overlooking the Mississippi RiverJanuary to February43 inches

Widely regarded as the best and largest ski resort in Illinois, the Chestnut Mountain Resort features 19 runs, which are suitable for a variety of experience levels — from beginner to advanced. Although it has an elevation of only 475 feet vertical, it makes up for it with its length which winds through 3,500 feet of slopes.

The resort is located near Galena in a stunning spot overlooking the Mississippi and is a popular destination all year round thanks to the golf course and playground, which operates during the warmer months.

Chestnut Hill receives an average of 43 inches of snow per year and has a base depth of between 35 and 59 inches. The best time to visit based on the quality and quantity of snow is between January and February. As well as the 19 runs, the resort also features nine lifts, a hotel, two restaurants, and a 20,000-square-foot ski center. It is also open for snowboarding — specifically “The Far Side”, which is a seven-acre snowboarding terrain park and the largest in the Midwest.

Even if you don’t fancy skiing then there is still plenty to see. Every year, Chestnut Hill hosts the Illinois Winter Special Olympics, which sees 400 athletes compete in a three-day event. Competitions include snowshoeing, alpine skiing, and cross-country skiing.

Chestnut Mountain, Jo Daviess County

Chestnut Mountain Resort is a great destination for the best skiing in Illinois.

©Scooter2424 / CC BY-SA 4.0 – License

2. Ski Snowstar

LocationBest Time to VisitAverage Snowfall
Andalusia TownshipJanuary to February30 inches

Another popular destination for skiing in Illinois is Ski Snowstar in West Andalusia. Spanning 28 acres, this resort features 15 runs with the longest being three-quarters of a mile. Although it only has a vertical drop of 262 feet, it has terrain features on every trail which are regularly moved around to keep things interesting.

There are five ski lifts and the trails are open for both skiing and snowboarding. Plus, it is open for night skiing to those who want to take the experience up a notch. Ski Snowstar also offers skiing lessons as well as equipment rental.

There is sure to be something for everyone as the resort also has a snow-covered tubing hill with five lanes as well as a terrain park featuring 40-foot jumps. There is also a ski shop and areas to buy food and drinks.

Ski Snowstar has a base depth of 12 inches and receives an average of 30 inches of snowfall per year. The best times to visit are during the months of January and February when it receives the most snow.

Ski slopes with the sun rising behind the trees

Illinois is known as one of the flattest states in the US, but there are still plenty of ski opportunities.

© Petr

3. Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports

LocationBest Time to VisitAverage Snowfall
Lisle, ChicagoFebruary8.5 inches

Located in Lisle close to several main highways, Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports is easily accessible for those seeking a day on the slopes. It features seven runs at varying levels of difficulty from beginner to advanced. Plus, it has dedicated beginner areas so even if you’re only just learning the ropes you can still have fun.

Four Lakes offers skiing and snowboarding as well as night skiing. It also has a challenging terrain park with features that are regularly rearranged to keep things fresh and fun. There is also a snowsports school offering expert tuition, with both private and group lessons available. Plus, there is a lodge onsite with a restaurant, bar, café, and ski shop. It also offers free car parking and free Wi-Fi in the café area.

Although Four Lakes doesn’t receive as much snowfall as the other resorts on this list, the use of snowmaking equipment means there is still plenty of fun for everyone. Based on snowfall, the best time to visit is in February when there is the freshest powder.

Hunter Mountain, New York

Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports offers runs for beginner to advanced skiers in Illinois.


4. Villa Olivia

LocationBest Time to VisitAverage Snowfall
Bartlett Park District, ChicagoJanuary to early February12 inches

Finally, we come to Villa Olivia, which is the resort that is situated the closest to Chicago. Although this resort lacks the elevation of other slopes — having a vertical drop of only 180 feet — it does have seven runs of various ability levels across 15 skiable acres. It also offers night skiing, snowboarding, and both skiing and snowboarding lessons. There is also a tubing park so there is plenty on offer for the whole family.

Villa Olivia also features a chair lift and six rope tows, a ski café, and a bar. The park also has a golf course and a restaurant on site and hosts weddings and celebrations all year round, making it one of the most diverse resorts in the state.

Villa Olivia receives around 12 inches of snow per year and the best time to visit is in January and the first week of February, based on the peak snowfall.

In short, skiing in Illinois is not able to offer the thrilling challenges of resorts in states such as Utah and Colorado, but they do still offer good quality skiing and fun for everyone who visits.

Woman skiing

Villa Olivia has 15 acres available to ski on, putting it on the list of the best skiing in Illinois.

© Silva Cosentino

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Hannah is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on reptiles, marine life, mammals, and geography. Hannah has been writing and researching animals for four years alongside running her family farm. A resident of the UK, Hannah loves riding horses and creating short stories.

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