The weather prognosticators at the trusty Farmers’ Almanac and the U.S. Energy Information Administration agree this winter is shaping up to be a doozy. But just because the snow may fly and the mercury may drop doesn’t mean we Hoosiers have to hibernate till spring. Indiana might not be positioned like Michigan, Wisconsin or Minnesota along the Great Lakes “snow belt,” but it still offers a variety of outdoor fun activities for all ages and physical abilities. Here are eight places offering outdoor activities and events to help ward off “cabin fever.”
2798 W. County Road 25 S, Paoli, IN
Folks around Paoli probably thought local physician Richard D. Graber had come down with a serious case of cabin fever and gone stir crazy after being snowed in for days in the winter of 1978. That’s when he came up with the idea to convert a hog farm just west of town into a ski resort.
Now, in its 39th season, Paoli Peaks is a perfect place for family and friends to experience the thrills and chills of skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing. Skiers and snowboarders come from near and far — as far as Florida — for some snow-capped excitement.
A 45,000-square-foot day lodge is equipped with everything you need to enjoy a day on the slopes, including rental, cafeteria, a cozy ski bar for the 21+ crowd, free WIFI, a full-line pro shop, a ski and snowboard school, and more.
The hill itself offers 15 trails. A quarter of the terrain is beginner level, over half is intermediate and about 20 percent is advanced. Over 100 tower-mounted snow guns are capable of covering all trails with a foot of white stuff in 24 hours, temperatures permitting. Orange County REMC provides the electricity to keep the trails lit, allowing for skiing past dusk till the wee hours.
The “Arctic Blast” snow tubing facility includes 10 lanes, each 700 feet long, and its own day lodge equipped with a concession area, restrooms, lockers, indoor/outdoor viewing area and seating.
If you go
- Mon — 10 a.m.-9 p.m.;
- Tues-Thurs — noon-10 p.m.;
- Fri — 10 a.m.-10 p.m. (3 a.m. when there are midnight sessions)
- Sat — 9 a.m.-10 p.m. (3 a.m. when there are midnight sessions)
- Sun — 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Snow Tubing Hours:
- Fri — 5-9 p.m. (1 a.m. with midnight session);
- Sat — 10 a.m.-9 p.m. (1 a.m. with midnight session);
- Sun — 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Schedule & Rates:
Hours and rates vary depending on the winter holiday periods. Go to PaoliPeaks.com for a complete list of hours, rates and special events.
Paoli Peaks’ season runs through mid-March. Always check the Snow Report before going to Paoli Peaks for daily updates on snow and tubing conditions. Skiing, snowboarding and tubing are weather-dependent activities and conditions and hours are subject to change without notice.
Pokagon State Park
450 Lane 100 Lake James, Angola, IN
Natural lakes and beauty abound in this Indiana State Park bordering Lake James and (appropriately for winter) Snow Lake in Steuben County. But it’s a man-made toboggan track that thrills 90,000 visitors from late November through February.
Toboggans on the refrigerated quarter-mile run reach speeds of 35-40 miles per hour. With the 30-foot tower and dips and valleys, the total vertical drop is 90 feet over the course of the 20 to 30 second thrill ride.
If you go
- Fri — 5:30-9 p.m.;
- Sat — 10:30 a.m.-9 p.m.;
- Sun — 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
Extended hours during winter break. Open on New Year’s Day, Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Presidents’ Day. Operates through Feb. 25.
Sled rental per hour: $13 (renters are guaranteed one ride per hour during peak times). Park entrance fees apply.
Driver’s license is required as deposit, rents up to four toboggans. Must use park’s sleds. Rentals on first-come, first-served basis. Maximum of four people per toboggan (no exceptions).
No cameras or video equipment allowed on ride. Toboggan will close if temperature drops to 0 degrees F or below.
Warming Center concessions available (carry-in food prohibited). Cross country ski rental is also available.
Grooming for Gold
Perfect North Slopes
19074 Perfect Lane, Lawrenceburg, IN
The 2018 Winter Olympic Games are just a month away. And while the snowy landscapes of South Korea may seem a world away from Indiana, at least one Olympic medalist, freestyle skier Nick Goepper, would feel right at home on the Perfect North Slopes of Lawrenceburg.
Goepper, the bronze medal winner in the last Winter Games — the first Hoosier Winter medalist — first groomed his freestyle on these Dearborn County hills of his hometown.
Located in the Southeast corner of the state, Perfect North is named after the family that developed and owns the resort — though the name may also fit the ski experience. General Manager Chip Perfect is proud of how the family business, that opened in the winter of 1980-81 on what was the family farm, has grown over the past 38 seasons and continues to reinvest.
Perfect North consists of 22 ski trails, from beginner to advanced; five chairlifts; six Magic Carpet conveyor lifts; two rope tows; two terrain parks; and 23 tubing lanes. The facility also has one of the most powerful snowmaking systems in the Midwest, with a fleet of snow grooming machines to match.
A day lodge with a fireplace, food and full service ski shop offers an inviting place to come in from the cold.
If you go
- Sun-Thurs — 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.;
- Fri-Sat — 9:30 a.m.-midnight
Snow Tubing Hours:
- Mon-Thurs — 1-9:30 p.m. (non-holiday);
- Fri-Sat — 9:30 a.m.-midnight;
- Sun & Holidays — 9:30 a.m.-9:30 p.m.
Schedule & Rates:
Hours and rates vary depending on the winter holiday periods and packages. Go to PerfectNorth.com for a complete list of hours, rates and special events.
Perfect North’s season runs through early March, depending on temperatures. Always check the Snow Report for daily updates on snow conditions. Conditions and hours are subject to change without notice depending on the temperatures.
Eagle Watch Programs
Five Indiana DNR locations
There’s something that touches you down deep when you see a bald eagle with your own eyes flying wild and free above the hills, trees and water that are part of your home state.
Part of it is the majesty of witnessing these large raptors soaring and diving; part of it is the patriotic feelings our national symbol may stir; and part of it is the pride in just knowing how these birds were brought back from the verge of extinction.
The Indiana Department of Natural Resources invites folks to “Eagle Watch” programs at five different locations around the state. Sites and their dates are:
- Patoka Lake, Jan. 6;
- Mississinewa Lake, Jan. 20;
- Monroe Lake, Jan. 26-28;
- Turkey Run State Park, Jan. 26-28;
- Salamonie Lake, Feb. 10-11.
The highlight of the programs will include driving tours to hot spots for eagle viewing at each of the respective locations. This time of year, Indiana’s resident bald eagles are joined by a number of others from northern states who spend winter here enjoying Indiana’s relative balmy temperatures and open waters.
Location: Patoka Lake Visitor’s Center, 3084 N. Dillard Road, Birdseye, IN
Date: Saturday, Jan. 6
Time: 10 a.m.-4:45 p.m.
Cost: $15 per person; registration required (call 812-685-2447 or email DReckelhoff@dnr.IN.gov); registration limited to 55 participants.
Miscellaneous: Watch includes indoor & outdoor programs. A catered meal will be provided. Kid’s activities and crafts will be available from 12:45-4 p.m.
Location: Miami Recreation Area boat ramp, 4673 S. 625 E, Peru, IN
Date: Saturday, Jan. 20
Time: 6:30-10:30 a.m.
Registration: Call 260-468-2127.
Miscellaneous: Caravan to bald eagle roost as they take morning flight. Small amount of walking involved.
Location: Fourwinds Resort, 9301 S. Fairfax Road, Bloomington, IN
Dates: Fri-Sun, Jan 26-28
Time: All day
Cost: $15 adult (age 16+), child $10 (age 6-15); advance registration available till Jan. 23 at visitbloomington.com/eaglesovermonroe; or walk-up.
Miscellaneous: Special lodging rates available for event attendees. For more info, phone 812-837-9967.
Turkey Run State Park
Location: Turkey Run Inn, 8121 E. Park Road, Marshall, IN
Dates & Times: Fri, Jan. 26, 7-9 p.m.; Sat, Jan. 27, 6:30 a.m.-9 p.m.;
Sun, Jan. 28, 6:30 a.m.-noon.
Cost: $15 adult (age 13+), child $10 (age 4-13); plus regular park admission.
Miscellaneous: Special lodging rates available, use group code EAG18 to make Inn room reservations at IndianaInns.com, or 877-563-4371.
Location: Interpretive Center, 3691 New Holland Road, Andrews, IN
Dates: Sat-Sun, Feb. 10-11
Time: 3-7:30 p.m.
Registration: Call 260-468-2127
Miscellaneous: Watch includes short indoor program, then caravan to outdoor roost site with small amount of walking. Hot dogs and hot drinks available for free-will donation to support raptor center at Salamonie Lake.