Uttering the phrase, ‘I went skiing in Iowa’ feels strange, but it’s something I can honestly say after this weekend.
Moving to the Midwest wasn’t ideal for my passion of skiing, but as Matt Damon said in Goodwill Hunting, I had to see about a girl.
I grew up skiing the small ski areas of the Poconos, but some of those mountains still tower above the ski hills that make up the Midwest.
I couldn’t believe the first time I arrived at a sub-300′ vertical hill. It was amazing how many people were so excited to be skiing even though the hill was so tiny. These Midwestern folks are truly passionate skiers, and I love that. It’s not about racking up stats for them.
It’s just about sliding on snow. Plain and simple.
One of my goals is to ski every state with a ski area. Now, I’m no Bruce McEwen, who skied every US state regardless if it had a legit ski area, but the task is still daunting.
Do I really want to go skiing in places like Iowa, Ohio, Indiana, and Alabama? Yes. The answer is always yes.
Skiing is skiing, and I want to see it all.
I finally checked Iowa off that list this past weekend by skiing Sundown Mountain Resort. The ski resort is about a 2-hour drive from my home in the Madison, WI area, and I finally decided to bite the bullet and make the drive out there.
It also really helped that the mountain joined The Indy Pass recently. Not gonna lie…
Sundown is one of those ‘upside-down’ mountains that has its base area at the top. I think I read that at some point, but I clearly had forgotten when I arrived at the hill this past Saturday.
My GPS said I was only 1-minute away from the ski area but the surrounding landscape was completely flat. I was starting to get worried that I was lost when I saw the Sundown sign ahead.
Now, for those of you have not skied in the Midwest before, I have a couple of things to explain. For one, a ski area with a vertical over 300′ is considered ‘big’, and that’s something you just have to keep in mind when reading about Sundown.
That metric is still puny compared to the Northeast and West, but it’s all relative in these parts.
^Sundown Mountain Resort Trail Map
The point I’m getting at is that I was pleasantly surprised by Sundown’s 475′ of vertical. The mountain is pretty small from side to side, but the nearly 500′ of vertical was actually fun compared to some of the other ski areas I’ve visited in the Midwest.
Was I done with each run in less than 30-seconds? Well, yeah, but that’s not the point of these Midwestern hills. It’s not about how long you’re skiing for, it’s just about if you’re skiing or not. Make sense?
I really enjoyed the mountain’s premier Black-Diamond run called Gun Barrel. It’s very short, but the steep pitch by Midwestern standards was a lot of fun. I enjoyed carving out the turns using the speed I got from Gun Barrell back down to the lift.
The mountain also had a little section of a trail called Headwall moguled up. You could fly down it in about 10 turns, but it was a nice challenge to end each run.
Again, it’s all about having fun.
I’m not a park skier, but I could see Sundown being a dream for every park rat around. The mountain had numerous parks with features, hits, and even an airbag.
Yes. That’s right. The small mountain in Iowa had a legit airbag for practicing big tricks. Pretty rad, I know.
I ultimately skied for about 4 hours at Sundown, and I had a blast. The lift lines were a little long, but I didn’t really care. I was enjoying skiing in the sun, talking with a friend, and soaking in the atmosphere of skiing in Iowa.
It was a fun time.
I’d definitely recommend Sundown to anybody from the Midwest looking to experience something new, or for the adventure traveler wanting a unique place to slide on snow.
I’m happy to report that skiing isn’t dead. You just have to know where to look for it. Sundown Mountain Resort is a good place to start.
*Please credit Matt Lorelli/Unofficial Networks for all photos*