Hidden Valley Ski Resort
December 15, 2019
Written By Nancy Demaree
Western St. Louis County might not seem like the ideal spot for a ski resort, but that’s exactly what it’s been since 1982. At Hidden Valley Ski Resort in Wildwood, Mo., fans flock to ski, snowboard and tube each year from around mid-December to mid-March.
“One of the things that we offer is a unique attraction and a way to stay fit and outside in the winter months,” says general manager Greg Gavrilets. “There’s not a lot of other stuff that people can do with the entire family during the winter. Skiing and snowboarding are very fun activities, and not one you can do everywhere. You have to have hills, snowmaking equipment—there’s a lot of factors combined.”
To that end, Hidden Valley boasts one of the Midwest’s most impressive snowmaking systems—fueled by MFA Oil—featuring 110 snowmaking guns that can produce 6,600 gallons of snow per minute at full capacity. In the right conditions, that can cover 100 percent of the resort’s 62 acres of terrain in just 72 hours. All that snow is packed to perfection for the 17 trails and two terrain parks, plus the Polar Plunge Tubing Park.
Trails aren’t just for experts: Beginner skiers can tackle three bunny slopes and even take a rope lift instead of one of the five chairlifts or three surface lifts. More experienced guests can head to black-diamond trails including Ice Man’s Ridge.
Hidden Valley formerly featured a golf course, but when that closed in 2009, the team came up with an even better way to stay open year-round: a zipline. When it opens in spring 2019, the zipline will be one of the longest in the Midwest, around 2,800 feet at its longest span. Gavrilets says Hidden Valley will also open the chair lifts for scenic views, not just skiers. On a clear day, riders can see downtown St. Louis from the top of the main summit.
“You can see the (Gateway) Arch and the skyscrapers—it’s pretty neat,” Gavrilets says. “Then you have the beautiful vistas of west St. Louis County. We’ve got a really special property. There’s two peaks and multiple valleys. I kind of call it a small-big mountain. It’s got all the characteristics of something you’d see out West or in the Northeast. We’re just a little bit smaller vertically than they are. There’s beautiful streams and gullies and lakes and a little bit of everything up here.”
For guests who are first-time skiers or just haven’t hit any jibs in years, Hidden Valley offers lessons for all ages at its Snowsports Academy. Both group lessons and private lessons are available. Kids from ages 3 to 19 can also join the award-winning Hidden Valley Ski Team training program. This season, the resort is offering an adult race league for the first time. Teams of three to six, at any ability level, can compete and establish a handicap over eight weeks of racing.
After hitting the slopes, guests can warm up at the Main Lodge, which features an outdoor fire pit as well as indoor dining. They can grab chili or a burger and fries and relax with a local beer from Urban Chestnut Brewing Co. or Schlafly. Napoleon’s Nook, the resort’s shop, carries favorite brands including Neff and Bula. Polar Plunge Tubing Park on the other side of the resort also features a cafe.
For Gavrilets, it’s not hard to see why Hidden Valley has been such a favorite for nearly four decades.
“I’ve been skiing since I was 2,” he says with a laugh. “It’s kind of a bug that you catch, and you just keep chasing the dream.”