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Chestnut Mountain ready for guests: Popular resort reopens outdoor activities in Phase Four of Restore Illinois plan


GALENA–Chestnut Mountain Resort reopened summer attractions like the Soaring Eagle zip line and alpine slide on Saturday, June 27 as the Restore Illinois plan moved into Phase Four.

The management and staff at Chestnut worked diligently during the shutdown to develop new systems and policies that adhere to state guidelines. All employees are required to check their temperatures on a wall thermometer when they clock in for the day. Outdoor recreation employees are separated from hotel and dining employees to limit the number of people in break rooms.

Mike Murphy, general manager, said employees have been very responsive to the new protocols.

“Everyone went through COVID-19 orientation where they signed documents mandating social distancing and temperature checks,” Murphy said.

Each outdoor recreation station has its own sanitation kit filled with cleaning supplies. The Segway orientation chairs are six feet apart, and there is hand sanitizer located at every turn. One major change is that visitors will no longer grab their own sleds for the Alpine Slide. Instead, the sleds will be sprayed with disinfectant at the bottom of the hill immediately after use. The clean sleds are then transported on a conveyor belt up to the new rider. The chair lifts will also be sprayed with disinfectant immediately after use.

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Murphy said the new alpine slide sled system seems more efficient than what they were doing before the pandemic.

“There are some things we’ve done that we will probably keep doing because they’re safer anyways,” Murphy said.

During the shutdown, Chestnut only kept four outdoor recreation employees working. Stewart Stoffregen, marketing director, said they are looking forward to getting people back to work while also keeping visitors safe.

Both Murphy and Stoffregen expect Chestnut to be busy for the rest of the summer. Phase four has changed the dynamic of dining because they can have indoor seating and plan to serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.

“We’ve been getting a lot of phone calls asking if and when the alpine slide will open, so it will depend on the weather,” Stoffregen said. “This is our trial. We will see how the first couple weeks go.”

For more information on rates and hours of operation, visit chestnutmtn.com.