Lawrenceburg, IN – Tucked amongst the rolling hills and farms of Indiana
lies Perfect North Slopes, a small, quiet mountain for skiers only. Located
outside of Lawrenceburg near the tri-state corner of Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky,
it is conveniently located an hour and a half from Indianapolis and 45 minutes
from Cincinnati. Its unique location off of a twisting, turning rural road presents
an unusual picture. As you come around a small bend in the road, a small hillside
covered in man made snow comes into view, sitting quietly among the rolling
hills and farmers’ fields.
The name "Perfect" comes not because of the skiing, but after the
owners, the Perfect Family, who own the farmland on which the ski area is located.
Originally begun with a few rope tows and homemade snowmaking equipment, it
is now a 400-vertical foot, 18 run, 6-lift operation with 100% night skiing
capabilities. It also remains as a skier only facility, sharing its status with
large resorts like Alta, Taos, Deer Valley and Mad River Glen in prohibiting
Perfect North Slopes offers terrain for widely ranging skill levels, including
a trail marked with a double black diamond, several black diamonds, and many
easy and advanced trails as well. For the beginning skier there are also two
separate beginner areas on opposite ends of the lodge to allow you to learn
the basics. There is much controversy among the skiing public on how trails
are rated, and Perfect North Slopes is no exception. If you were to take this
ski area and drop it in many other locations, none of its runs would merit an
expert skiing designation. While this may disappoint some, Perfect North Slopes
is capable of satisfying the skiing crave for many midwesterners.
I arrived at Perfect North Slopes, nicknamed PNS by the locals, at around 10
a.m. The parking lot was surprisingly packed, but looking at the snow covered
hillside you wouldn’t know it. After parking in the back row I quickly ran to
grab my lift ticket and rental pass from the window. Greeted by a courteous
smile from a cooperative employee, my day was off to a good start.
A weekend adult lift ticket and ski rental runs $55 (2000-2001 pricing). You
are also able to purchase a night skiing pass that allows you to ski anytime
from 5 p.m. until 3 a.m., when they fire up the snow guns and start grooming
the trails for the next day. These run at $55 on any day of the week. After
a good 30 minutes trying to negotiate my way through a maze of equipment, with
little help from a high school-age rental staff, I made it out the back door
with skis in hand. I slide over to Chair #3.
(Click on image to open a full-size trail map in a new
Chair #3 is a triple providing access to the eastern half of the hill, including
“Tuff Enuff,” which this day was closed for a NASTAR competition until 4 p.m.
Also accessible from Chair #3 is Backstage, one of the nicer runs on the mountain,
featuring a tight pitch near the top followed by good, wide cruising back to
the bottom of Chair #3.
This day’s morning conditions were cold, and the snow was in surprisingly good
shape in view of the recent weather conditions. Although the surface was thick
in some spots, it was nicely groomed in others, and it wasn’t until late in
the afternoon that it was brushed aside to reveal the sheets of ice frozen from
the previous week’s rain.
Center Stage, a black diamond trail that takes you straight down the middle
of the hill, is another a nice run with varied terrain. However, after a while
one finds themselves questioning the three to five minute lift ride up in view
of the 30 second descent, a situation that afflicts almost every run near the
middle of the hill, most of which were black diamonds. The lifts are rather
slow, but when you are accessing only 400 vertical feet, lift speed isn’t that
much of a concern.
After working in a few runs in around Chair #3, I traversed across the top
of the hill and skied down to the quad Chair #5, which appeared to access the
expert areas of the hill. It was not until later in the day that I noticed that
a small 15-foot rope tow was installed to lift you up a small ridge at the top
of the hill and access the same terrain. From the top of Chair #5 you can hit
the double-black Showcase, including a large kicker at the bottom that constituted
one of the area’s main attractions, or the black diamonds Special Effects or
Encore. The latter features a tight, steep pitch in the trees which slowly fades
into a flatter intermediate trail. The most enjoyable choice on this side of
the mountain, however, was The Far Side, which delivers a minute or two of nice
cruising to reach the base for another lift up.
From the top of any of the chairs you have a tremendous view of the southern
Indiana countryside, with its rolling hills and farm fields. Stuck right in
the middle of all of that is Perfect North Slopes. It really is an odd feeling.
There were a few jumps, kickers for the “new schoolers,“ placed throughout
the ski area – most notably at the bottom of the Showcase and Center Stage runs,
and very popular with teens who attempt their best tricks in front of their
friends and a few cameras. It also provided entertainment for the slow lift
ride back up to the top, watching spins, grabs, and even a flip.
Due to a very mild winter in Indiana, Perfect North Slopes was operating nearly
entirely man made snow, which the ski area can use to cover its terrain with
100% effectiveness. With fan guns mounted atop each lift tower and throughout
the woods, the snowmaking system constitutes a large operation amongst the farmland
of Indiana. A three-story lodge features a well-priced canteen where one can
grab lunch for about $5 – $7, and seating space abounds. On sunny afternoons
you may also enjoy your meal outside on the back patio, which faces the hill.
PNS also features a large locker room on the lower level utilized primarily
by competitive racers and staff workers, and the “Loft Shop” for equipment sales,
clothing, and other accessories, as well as repair services including tuning,
waxing, and binding mounting.
If you are traveling for a weekend and worried about lodging, have no fear.
There are many hotels within a 20-minute drive of Perfect North Slopes on either
the Kentucky or Indiana sides of the border, all featuring packages which include
2 or 3 night stays and lift tickets for under $150.