State of Shred: Wisconsin


Dave Matonich at Sunburst, courtesy Wisconsin Shred Project

Population: 5,654,774
State since: 1848
Total Resorts: 30 (no, seriously)

State of Shred? In the state of Wisconsin? I know the editors expected me to come out and shit all over this state, but really I can’t. The people who eat, sleep and breathe snowboarding in Wisconsin are rare, but they are also some of the most committed riders you’ll ever meet. It’s really a lifestyle built around what’s lacking. Wisconsin doesn’t get the amount snow of a mountain state, it doesn’t have over 700 vertical feet anywhere, and we can’t even count on a four-month season. Yet for some reason people do choose to live here and consider themselves snowboarders.


Best Park: Tyrol Basin if you’re in the southern half. Trollhaugen if you’re northerly.
Best Place to Ride Powder Groomers: Probably some place that has a lot of skiers, like Granite peak.
Best Bar: The trunk a silver Honda Civic.

Hottest Chicks: Probably Alpine Valley, because they’re all from Chicago. But then again you ever seen Chi-broads?
Best Drive: Trollhaugen, once you get off the freeway. 100 mph all the way.
Baddest Lift: Granite Peak has a sixer I think
Gnarliest Chair: Devil’s Head. PROVEN ROLLBACK PERFORMANCE!
Lodge Most Likely to Burn down? That one at Powderhorn (disputed territory)
Worst Vibe: Anywhere you get to ride up a lift with me.
Best Garbage Dump on which to film an Episode of Mtv’s Made: Mt. Olympia. Again, proven performance history.
Best Off-hill Activities: The Disputed Territories of Indianhead, Powderhorn, Blackjack and Whitecap. Lotto Tickets and strippers for blocks.

To better explain the places these people ride I’ve broken the state into quadrants.

The Northwest

This is the zone I grew up in. In fact, a lot of snowboarders grew up here. And it might be arguable that this is the birthplace of modern jibbery. Chad Schnacky, Dale Rehberg and Roan Rodgers all got there early turns in this part of the state. Around here you can ride beautiful Mt. Hardscrabble. Nestled in the northwoods it features a chairlift, two t-bars, a tow-rope, and a ton of locals skiing in jeans. Another northwest Wisco hill is Christie Mountain. Not to be outdone Christie Mountain feature a chairlift, a t-bar, two tow-ropes, the Blue Hills Beast (a blue gorilla-like mascot) and the vaguely racist slogan, “Christie Mountain, You’re all white!”

Wisconsin is also home to the fine little hill, Trollhaugen, which kicks out some strong riders. Ethan Deiss is from around here, so we’re going to assume he rode Troll a few times. But the strength of riders probably owes more to the fact that it’s mere minutes from Minnesota. The riding here is fun. I always remember the parks being in good shape. And it seems there is always a church group there to bum cupcakes and ham sandwiches from. I did this a few times growing up with a friend of mine. A couple years ago he recorded one of the New York Times Albums of the Year. I got a free tee shirt from Yobeat.

Of course the elephant in the room of snowboarding in this part of Wisconsin is that you should really just go to Minnesota. There are like 50 places to ride within minutes of the border. And with modern bridges, travel between the two states is safer than ever. Seriously, just go to Minnesota. Or at least to Trollhaugen.

The Southwest

The main thing to remember about the southwestern part of the state is Tyrol Basin. This little hill earned it place in snowboarding history in the 1990s and to this day they stay committed to riders. Tyrol caters heavily to shreddery with tons of features and a proper bar just off-hill. Plus they have $12 lift tickets. There are some other places around here but they have sketchy histories like not allowing snowboarding, or chairlift disasters, or being pretty incredibly boring.

Devil’s Head. The Southwest Wisco home of Rock n Ride (and one time the chairlift rolled back.)

The Southeast

The Southeastern corner of Wisconsin has around 95% of the population and roughly 5% of the ride-able terrain. They’ve essentially covered some landfills, tossed up chairlifts and overpriced their tickets. It cracks me up that these trash heaps draw in crowds. I should note that a lot of people come out of Chicago to ride these places. I can’t blame them. Any opportunity to get out of Chicago is one worth taking. That place sucks. I heard even Nick Lipton has been weekending up here. Though I have yet to see him, or his free cigarettes.

The Northeast

Lastly we’ve got the great northeastern quadrant of Wisconsin, featuring four resorts along the disputed border territory with the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. You’ve got Indianhead, Blackjack, Whitecap, and Powderhorn. Some of those are in Michigan but at least one of them is in Wisconsin. Lines get blurry up there. There are a few really great things about this area. First off they get more snow than anywhere else in the state, averaging about 300 inches a year. And the lift tickets at these resorts of ridiculously inexpensive. You won’t find high-end resorts connected to any of these places but you do get good riding, fun parks, a lot of pleasant people who tend to shoot guns, and then you’ve got this place called Hurley. It’s not to say you can’t go there, but the chances of your flashy snowboarder ways getting you some menacing glances greatly increases. Hurley has a population of roughly 300 and about 7 strip clubs on one block. All of these places they are filled with sled crowds. Last winter I was up in this area conducting some research for this piece and a 75-year-old man yelled to me, “You don’t want to go in that place. All you’re going to see is a pregnant fucking rhino.” And he was right. It’s kind of like Mexico except that when you finish seeing some shit you’re never going to forget , you stumble outside and you’re still among God’s people.

That pretty much wraps up Wisconsin. If I left anyplace off, it’s probably because it’s not worth mentioning. Or I’ve never been there. Or they have “skier only” runs. Please come visit, it may not be amazing but it will at least be fun.

39 replies
  1. gerry.
    gerry. says:

    don’t know what roads you were driving on, but 100 mph anywhere near Troll is pretty much guaranteed a ticket, at least for me it was.

    also, Trollhaugen pwns any of the MN resorts nearby.

  2. prickly pear
    prickly pear says:

    “Of course the elephant in the room of snowboarding in this part of Wisconsin is that you should really just go to Minnesota.” nuff said……….

  3. Chawshank Redemption
    Chawshank Redemption says:

    Those U.P. resorts don’t get half the attention they deserve.They easily get the most snow in the midwest. Blackjack especially since they run a pretty sick tow rope park.

    Illinoyings, you didn’t make it to the superbowl so nobody cares about your state.

  4. Cookout
    Cookout says:

    Hi, I live in Chicago and I’d really like to visit Wi and have a place to sleep and see this disputed territory. Could Yobeat make my dreams come true?

  5. Stibbi
    Stibbi says:

    Soo, I (born euro) came here to spend the winter in the midwest.

    haha, you got it, I’m flying back next week!

  6. double u
    double u says:

    I’m guessing yobeat is hating on Granite Peak because of the failed attempt at “skier only runs.” Those runs are long gone, and no matter where you go in Wisconsin, or the midwest for that matter, the parks don’t get any better than Granite Peak’s. We probably have more snowboarders than skiers, so the “place with a lot of skiers, like Granite Peak” bullshit is completely wrong. Maybe you should check the resorts out before writing some article, people come from Chicago, Minneapolis, and all around Wisconsin to ride at Granite (including Tyrol and Troll). Granted they don’t have an Ethan Deiss coming out of there, but Ethan does go to ride there, along with RP and a bunch of other midwest heavy hitters.

  7. Em En
    Em En says:

    Double u, all i’ve heard about granite from people this year is how they accommodate their parks way too much for skiers and they’re lift ticket prices are worse than lutsen’s. Basically, the Vail of the midwest except without the millionaires and powder.

  8. double u
    double u says:

    Funny because all the skiers bitch because everything is setup for snowboarders, which makes sense, because the park crew are 4 guys in their 20s that snowboard every day… Facebook their business page and check the photos, Granite Peak Parks

  9. shreddaU_PEE
    shreddaU_PEE says:

    Good article. Definitely heard from a lot of northern Wisconsin folks that granite has the best park.

    Indianhead, Powderhorn, and Blackjack are all in Michigan. They are decent midwest resorts, but Blackjack has a tow rope park and has a dedicated park crew.

    When (or if) you ever write a State of Shred article on Michigan, you have to ride at Mt. Bohemia in the northern U.P. No groomed trails and triple black diamond backcountry runs (only triple blacks in the nations!). Place is insane and super fun.

    Hurley is legit. Super fun in the winter when all the fish head up north on their sleds. Best strip club is the Full Moon Saloon!

  10. ODP
    ODP says:

    park crew at granite peak cant ride what they build jump wise. they have the riding skills of skiers. bunch of swag there

  11. mtu
    mtu says:

    Granite peak fucking sucks, rode there once…way too overpriced for a shitty park and average runs. never going back.

    Troll all the way

  12. double u
    double u says:

    mtu…. you can hate all you want but the truth is no one in the midwest can compete with granite, no matter how salty you get.

    • burst sucks worse than chicago
      burst sucks worse than chicago says:

      suck, and Martola can’t shape worth a shit…..

      “So you build the lip first and then the landing??” – actual question, from Kyle Martola…

  13. Packers
    Packers says:

    Seeing Wisconsin getting some love is the best thing I’ve seen on Yobeat, although a couple misconceptions about Granite Peak, but oh well. Best riders in Wisconsin, best park in Wisconsin.

  14. gp
    gp says:

    I work at granite peak. We have a very dedicated park crew who is out there daily maintaining everything. They hit all the features they maintain , along with Bobby who builds all the jumps he takes them all to. On a daily basis I see more boarders than skiers and either way they are all out there shredding the parks hard. Did the guy who wrote this even ride GP this year? I think not.

  15. dirt
    dirt says:

    shoulda wrote something up on sunburst. just 45 min north of milwakee. place is a hidden gem and martola makes it bomb. maybe not the best riders there but set up is prime. iv seen the little kids from raging buffalo tear tht place up

    • burst sucks worse than chicago
      burst sucks worse than chicago says:

      burst sucked then, and it still sucks now… not to mention wherever he ended up most likely sucks as well. Can’t shape for shit

  16. Livelife
    Livelife says:

    Snowboarding in wisconsin is not the “ideal” place to ride. With terrible weather and small hills, its hard to get a good season in. From
    Experience riding all over the world, i can truthfully say that wisconsin has one of the best hypes out of anywhere. Riders are stoked to ride no matter what they have. Parks have been getting better and better and same with the riders. These kids are using what they have to their full potential and my guess is we start hearing more and more names out of wisconsin in the future. Snowboarding is snowboarding and no matter what people have they will love it. Keep shredding wisco!

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