Standing Rocks opens season with free ski, other events during next three weeks
If you haven’t done so already, it’s time to break out the snowmobile suits, snow pants, hats, ear muffs, wool scarves, insulated mittens and don’t forget all the toys: skis, snowboards, snowshoes and the like.
Standing Rocks County Park opens for the snow season on Monday, Dec. 26, with a free ski day from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We want to see people get out and exercise, try something new, explore the natural world, and by offering a free day, money is not the obstacle,” Portage County Parks Director Gary Speckmann said.
“We live in central Wisconsin, so learn to enjoy winter instead of complaining about it,” he said.
Weather calls for mid- to upper 20s, perhaps hitting 30 with a chance of snow during winter break, which for most begins Friday, Dec. 23. Monday’s forecast looks to be in the low to mid-30s, but a possibility of rain on Sunday, Christmas Day, could dampen things.
Standing Rocks is located about seven miles east of Stevens Point. The 524-acre park is open year-round and is a host to a multitude of activities throughout the year, but the snow season begins after Christmas.
Already, several inches of snow have fallen to create the foundation needed for skiing and the opening event should kick off on good footing.
“Now that there is snowmaking we can guarantee being open for the winter season, and visitors can plan trips to the park in advance,” Speckmann said.
The free day includes cross country skiing, downhill skiing, snowshoeing and a limited amount of rental equipment available on a first-come, first-served basis. A warming house, complete with fireplace, also will be available, and food and refreshments will be available for purchase.
Standing Rocks is wooded, hilly, overlooks Bear Lake and provides a beautiful setting for winter activities, Speckmann said. The lodge provides a place to warm up by the fireplaces and offers a concession stand.
The park has always provided inexpensive, family or youth recreation and has become a feeder program for the larger ski areas in central Wisconsin, he said.
Cross country skiing will be open daily throughout the snow season on about 10 miles of trails. Because of the beautiful hills throughout the park property, about three-quarters of the trails are marked as intermediate or expert, but there are some segments that remain for beginners or those looking more to meander through the park.
Downhill skiing will be available every weekday through the Christmas holiday season with the exception of Christmas Eve (Saturday, Dec. 24) and Christmas Day (Sunday, Dec. 25), then every weekend throughout the season. There are two beginner hills, one intermediate hill and two expert hills from which to choose, with the longest run being about 1,200 feet. The highest vertical drop is about 125 feet for those who may be more adventurous.
Tow lines operate from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; the lodge is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., where hot concessions also are sold throughout the day.
A snowshoe trail also is available with one- and two-mile options. The trails are marked and are available near the lodge.
There is a per person or per family cost for daily and seasonal passes. Contact the park at 715-824-3949 for more information or visit www.co.portage.wi.us/department/parks/standing-rocks-park.
Standing Rocks is the largest county park in Portage County and offers a wide range of activities in the winter. Downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowshoeing and dog exercise area are all open throughout the winter. It also includes a disc golf course, mountain bike trails, hiking trails, field archery course, public hunting and cross country running course during other times of the year.
* Evening Snowshoeing at Standing Rocks Park will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 6. Cost is $5 with proceeds going to the Friends of Standing Rocks. Snowshoes will be available for rent on a first-come, first-served basis.
* Candlelight Cross Country Ski Night Time Event will be from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14, at the park. Cost is $5 with proceeds going to the Friends of Standing Rocks.
For more information on these and other events, call the park at 715-824-3949.