Wildwood is home to a somewhat hidden entertainment and recreational gem: Hidden Valley Ski Resort. But to winter enthusiasts, the only aspect about the resort that’s hidden is how it’s nestled into rolling hills near bluffs above the Meramec River.
Hidden Valley sprang from interesting circumstances. After businessman Tim Boyd bought the Wildwood Golf Course in 1977, he converted the hills to a ski resort in 1982 while maintaining the golf course. The Wildwood facility was his first of several resorts throughout the Midwest and the northeastern United States eventually developed or acquired through his company, Peak Resorts.
Tim ultimately entered an agreement to place the ski resort at 17409 Hidden Valley Drive in a conservation easement in exchange for permission to build 80 homes on the golf property, which then closed as a course.
At the beginning of the 2012-2013 winter season, Hidden Valley managers opened two additional runs dubbed "West Mountain.” Another chairlift was added as well.
Hidden Valley General Manager Greg Gavrilets says the 244-acre ski resort now features a variety of topographies spread over 17 trails, two terrain parks and two peaks. Altogether, the resort has five chairlifts, two surface lifts and two lifts in another entertainment area.
He adds that their 110 snowmaking machines can pump more than 6,600 gallons of water per minute, covering 100 percent of the terrain in as little as 48 hours.
Through the resort’s Snowsports Academy, Hidden Valley’s National Ski Patrol experts offer lessons for all ages and abilities.
Additionally, Greg says they have more than 2,000 pairs of skis or snowboards to rent.
He says a new bar recently was remodeled for Hidden Valley’s ski lodge, which also has a fireplace, retail space, cafeteria, electronic lockers, vending machines and ample seating.
“We also added the Polar Plunge Tubing Park in 2011, which is a family-friendly experience similar to sledding, with no prior experience required to participate in it and have fun,” he says.
In January 2018, Wildwood city councilmembers approved Hidden Valley to build a new ZipLine Tour so the property could remain open year-round. Amended site plans, final zoning approval and St. Louis County permits for the zipline were underway at press time. When completed for the target date of spring 2019, the zipline is slated to be open daily from 9 a.m. to sunset.
Greg says once the zipline is done, it will be Missouri’s longest zip tour.
“You can see downtown St. Louis and the Arch from our hilltop, so the zipline should be exciting in several ways,” he adds.
Have you taken the plunge?
Hidden Valley’s Polar Plunge Park is the largest snow tubing hill in Missouri and the United States, Greg says.
While there are no age or height requirements for tubing, Greg says everyone is expected to use common sense and good judgment.
“Only one person is allowed per tube. If you’re bringing younger children, the adult should hold on to the child's tube. And there must be a parent or guardian to sign the liability waiver for anyone younger than 18,” he adds.
Tube rentals are included in the price of a tubing ticket, with no sleds or external apparatuses allowed. One ticket covers three hours of tubing.
Greg says a tubing pass can be purchased for $65.
Hidden Valley Ski Club Produces Outstanding Athletes
The Hidden Valley Ski Team provides racing opportunities for all ability levels for skiers ages 5 to 19 years old. Athletes can race locally, regionally and nationally. Racers and parents at all levels enjoy free NASTAR (NAtional STAndard Race) at Hidden Valley Resort most weekends. NASTAR is the largest public grassroots ski racing program in the world. Founded in 1968, NASTAR gives recreational racers an opportunity to compete and compare their scores to friends and family regardless of when and where they race using the NASTAR handicap system.
Some of this club team’s accomplishments include:
- For 13 consecutive years, qualified USSA Rocky/Central Junior Champions
- Top 10 nationally ranked NASTAR Resort Team
- Top 10 Wisconsin Illinois Junior Alpine Racing Association Team
Additionally, one of Hidden Valley’s most avid enthusiasts, Ainsley Proffit, qualified this year to be part of the U.S. Ski Team.
“This is a big step in my racing career, but I still have a long ways to go,” says this 17-year-old St. Louis resident.
She will be racing the NorAm (North American) circuit, which consists of top Canadian and U.S. racers.
“Sometimes even the best of Europe come over to compete with us. The next step for me is to start racing on the World Cup circuit, which has the best racers from all over. The races are held every year with the majority taking place in Europe,” she says. “My ultimate goal is to compete in the Winter Olympics. Ever since I was about 8, I’ve dreamt of being on the top of that podium in front of all the world. Representing my country at the Olympics has always been a dream of mine."
Season Passes Started Selling in October
For the first time, this year the resort’s team held an onsite Oktoberfest and Winter Gear Swap on Oct. 6. They also held a race for the inaugural Hidden Valley Hustle, which was a 1,000-foot hill climb at 32 percent maximum grade.
Greg says the Hidden Valley team is intentionally planning more winter events for different types of audiences.
“We’re bringing back the Wednesday night adult racing league, and college nights will be on Fridays, with college students getting half off lift and rental costs.”
Hidden Valley opens Dec. 15 and closes March 15, 2019.