Wilmot Mountain, up Route 12, is a place where generations of Lake County families have enjoyed the very best of winter.
Founder Walter Stopa was a Chicago architect so smitten by skiing that just north of Antioch he carved out a winter playground. He reportedly moved one million cubic yards of dirt to create a 230-foot ski hill. To get back up the hill a rope tow was fashioned out of the drive mechanism of a Ford Model A automobile.
Over time the original warming hut was replaced with a Swiss styled lodge. Tow ropes gave way to chairlifts. The majority of runs were gentle enough for beginners, but the Stopa family created a few steeper trails to satisfy more advanced skiers and snowboarders.
Now, Vail Resorts (new owners and one of the largest resort operators across North America) has pumped into Wilmot more than $13 million to deliver an entirely re-imagined guest experience – from new lifts and restaurants to significant snowmaking improvements, a dedicated children’s ski and snowboard school, enhanced beginner area and expanded terrain park. Opened in 1962 and considered one of the granddaddies of western ski resorts, Vail in Colorado is a youngster when compared to Wilmot, celebrating its 80th season this year.
Any local adult considering snow sports for the first time can participate this winter in a “Ready to Ski/Ready to Ride” program that includes packages of lessons, lift tickets and free skis or a snowboard at the conclusion of the program. “Not only are we teaching guests the skills they need, but providing equipment to continue their snow sport journey in this 4-week program,” says Wilmot’s Rachael Muhlenbeck.
If snow riding is not your thing, there’s a 1,000 feet long snow tubing facility with 22 dedicated lanes, surface conveyors to whisk riders back up the hill, concessions and a restaurant, and even party rooms for rent.
Memories of old Walt still remain strong at Wilmot Mountain. A restaurant called “Walt’s Tavern” is where snow sports enthusiasts and families gather to dine, raise a glass and relax after a day of heart-pumping, leg-burning winter fun.
The management team likes to say Wilmot Mountain is the place Where Epic Begins, thanks to its relationship with Vail Resorts. Follow Wilmot Mountain on Twitter and Instagram at @WilmotMTN and on Facebook at Facebook.com/WilmotMTN, or visit wilmotmountain.com.