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The formation of Rib Mountain began some 1.5 to 2 billion years ago with the violent fusion of sand into mammoth chunks of quartzite through intense heat. Beginning 1.5 billion years ago, the surrounding plains started to erode away.  The incredibly hard quartzite, however, resisted this erosion and, over the succeeding hundreds of millions of years, remained and rose higher and higher over the surrounding area. Today, Rib Mountain, called a "monadnock" by geologists, is the second highest point in Wisconsin at 1,924 feet above sea level.  In addition it is over 700' above the surrounding plain, making it the tallest mountain in Wisconsin.



Rib Mountain State Park began in 1924 when the Wausau Kiwanis Club donated a few acres of land to the State. The State subsequently acquired another 120 acres. In 1936, the State dedicated a portion of the Park for the creation of the ski area. The Kiwanis Club raised funds for the purchase of an additional 40 acres for the ski area in 1937.  Today, Rib Mountain State Park encompasses more than 1,600 acres of which about 400 have been dedicated for use as a ski area with the remaining 800 acres reserved for general park uses.


When the ski area opened on the slopes of Rib Mountain in 1937, it was one of the first ski areas in North America. Stowe in Vermont had opened a few years earlier in 1934. Sun Valley in Idaho had become the nation's first ski area in the western states in 1936. The ski area opened in 1937 with six runs, a half-mile long t-bar powered by an 85 horsepower Ford V-8 motor with a standard truck transmission and a 20' by 60' temporary base chalet. The historic stone 10th Mountain Chalet was built a few years later in 1939 with funds raised by the Marathon Civic Corporation, an organization formed by the Chamber of Commerce for that purpose.

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The ski area had been created largely through the efforts of residents of the City of Wausau, then a thriving town of 25,000 people four and one-half miles from the ski area. The runs were built by hand by teams of workers standing almost shoulder to shoulder as they cut the trees, removed stumps and brush, and crushed the boulders with sledge hammers. A road was built to the base of the ski area and a parking lot cleared for 300 cars. At the time, the new ski lift at Rib Mountain was the longest ski tow in the country.

The ski area has a proud history of joint cooperation between the State, the local community and private ski area operators. A local businessman, Fred Pabst, operated the ski area from inception until 1947. From 1947, the State and a local civic organization jointly operated the ski area, an experience that convinced both the State and the community that the ski area would be best run by a private operator. In 1964, another local businessman, Carmie Oliva was recruited to operate the ski area. His tenure coincided with years of major growth in the ski industry, and skier visits increased. Today, Mr. Oliva, and many members of his family, own and operate the locally well known and very popular Carmelo's Italian Restaurant, located at the base of the ski area.

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In 1984, the State adopted a new Master Plan for the development of the ski area. This plan called for an expansion of trails, buildings and lifts. Two years later, the State entered into a long-term operating agreement with another local businessman that encouraged the new operator to expand the ski area as envisioned by the 1984 Master Plan.  Due to economic challenges and some lean winters the expansion projects never truly got underway.  

In 1998, the State began its search for a new ski area operator. The State's first request for proposals was on the basis that no expansion of the ski area would be permitted-no viable proposals were received. A national ski area consulting firm hired by a local civic organization came up with a new development plan that provided for an expansion consistent with the 1984 Master Plan.

At that time, Charles Skinner, co-owner of Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota, approached the civic association about purchasing the resort. Mr. Skinner won the bid based on his experience and its commitment to expand the ski area consistent with the development plans. 


Since 2000 millions and millions have been invested into the infrastructure, trails and programs at Granite Peak Ski Resort. 

Since 2000, Granite Peak has added 58 new runs for a total of 74 runs, installed seven new lifts, including the only high-speed detachable six-pack chairlift in the state of Wisconsin. It has restored the historic stone 10th Mountain Chalet to its original magnificence, built the new Sundance Chalet and Grill, added the new Stone Hearth Eatery, added Granite Ski and Sports and the Peak Performance Demos and Tuning Center, replaced the snowmaking system and installed 500+ new snow guns, and built a new ticket and ski school building.

Over the years other improvements continue including upgrades of snowmaking pipe, terrain park enhancements, new programs and further expansion developments!  Granite Peak continues to grow and more is planned for the future.  

Mountain Comparison