Distance from Chicago: 455 miles; 8-hour drive North in Grant, MI
Why it made our list: Do NOT read this if you’re a beginner. You are not allowed here, as a sign notes upon entrance. For the rest of you, welcome to one of the Midwest’s greatest hidden gems, offering 500 acres of wild, ungroomed terrain with the Midwest’s longest runs and highest vertical drop. Not to mention nearly 300 acres of powder a year (most in the Midwest) and 94 expert runs, all but three of which are rated black diamond or above.
Pro tip: Do cliff jumps off badass triple black diamond backcountry forest runs inaccessible by lift, but remember to wait for the roving bus to take you back to the top. Also, the Mardi Gras party at the North Pole Bar is a must.