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Whether you are traveling with your friends, family, or alone, to enjoy the winters, Michigan is the place to be. Michigan is a winter wonderland in the Great Lakes region of Midwestern United States.
It might take you by surprise, but Michigan goes well with downhill skiing. This state ranks second in the United States for most ski areas. So, with the first fall of fresh, coldly white snow, there’s just one thing Michigan speaks out loud: the ski season.
Although the ski season in Michigan runs short comparatively, the combination of Great Lakes, high mountains and hills, makes Michigan the ideal spot for all the snow sports, including cross-country skiing, snowboarding, tubing, night skiing, ice skating, and whatnot.
How many ski resorts are there?
Michigan is right next to New York when it comes to ski areas. It has more ski areas than any other state in the U.S., of course after New York.
At present, Michigan has over 40 ski resorts and boasts around 40 ski areas with plenty of snow, 50 terrain parks, more than 250 lifts, and about 1,000 ski runs.
Why are ski resorts better than others?
Well, for starters, the best thing about ski resorts in Michigan is that, from any corner of the state, the ski resorts are not more than 2 hours away. Wherever you are in the state, you will find a ski area nearby you.
The other reason that distinguishes Michigan from all other states regarding ski resorts and skiing is the cost. Skiing in Michigan will cost you much less than anywhere else.
So, you can have a perfect time in the snow within a pocket-friendly budget. And the biggest highlight of Michigan is that it has the only hill in the country for ski flying.
Ski Flying is an offshoot of ski jumping, with more prominent hills and longer jump distances.
Michigan’s Winter Magic: Snow, Family Fun, and Après-Ski Culture
- Lake Effect Snow: Due to Michigan’s closeness to the Great Lakes, there is a lot of lake-effect snow, which makes for fantastic skiing conditions.
This phenomenon benefits resorts like Boyne Mountain and Crystal Mountain, which provide skiers and snowboarders with the delight of constantly new snowfall.
- Family-Friendly Atmosphere: Ski resorts are well known for their welcoming environments for families. Resorts that prioritize inclusion, like Boyne Highlands and Shanty Creek, provide a variety of slopes that cater to different skill levels, making them perfect for family getaways.
- Après-Ski Culture: Michigan has a distinctive and welcoming après-ski culture. Warm and friendly surroundings are produced by cozy lodges, bonfire parties, and nearby craft brewers.
After a day on the slopes, resorts like Crystal Mountain and Marquette Mountain have lively social scenes.
- Boyne Mountain Resort: This resort is well-known for its diverse terrain, which ranges from runs suitable for beginners to those reserved for experts. There are also [lots of] handy places to stay there, such as hotels, condos, and cottages.
With its lazy river, pools, and slides, the largest indoor waterpark in the state is one of Boyne Mountain’s most well-liked attractions.
Ski-to-door access, which lets visitors ski directly to their accommodation rather than needing to take a shuttle or cover a lot of ground on foot, [is another] distinctive feature.
Why go skiing in Michigan?
Michigan offers some of the most picturesque skiing opportunities in the country. And that is one of the very reasons people choose Michigan’s ski resorts.
With the best lake effect snow off from Lake Superior and Lake Michigan, it guarantees high average snowfall for Michigan ski resorts, allowing equal opportunities for skiing and other winter activities for beginners and advanced ones.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a seasoned skier or just learning the skill. Michigan has a ski resort to suit your skills. Wherever you are in Michigan, whether in northern Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, or southwest Michigan, you can find a ski resort within a few miles.
Best Ski Resorts to explore in Michigan
People often ask where the best skiing in Michigan is, but this question doesn’t have one definite answer. It is one of those questions that has a lot of solutions. Because that’s what Michigan offers, the ski resorts or the ski areas are unique in their ways.
Some ski resorts have exceptional amenities, whereas some areas offer ski and snowboard lessons. There are areas specifically for advanced skiers, then there are areas for beginners. So, you can say that for every skill level, you will find a skiable terrain.
1. Boyne Mountain Resort
1 Boyne Mountain Rd, Boyne Falls
Michigan’s best-known and premier resort is Boyne Resort, which has two mountains, Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain. These two resorts are the largest in the lower Michigan region.
Boyne Mountain Resort is an ideal destination with something for everyone, with 60 runs that suit every ability level. This resort offers you a chance at many snowy activities such as Nordic skiing, ziplining, snowshoeing, and more.
Why Boyne Mountain Resort?
Boyne Mountain Resort is a four-season resort with over 400 skiable acres, 12 lifts, and 11 terrain parks. Here, you will find the first high-speed, six-place chairlift of America.
In addition to that, Boyne Mountain Resort is home to the largest indoor waterpark in the state and has the largest spa facility.
Boyne Highlands, the other mountain located in Harbor Springs, is the perfect destination for those just about to get their ski legs on.
2. Big Snow Resort
500 Indianhead Road, Wakefield, Michigan
The name is literal because this resort receives over 17 feet of snow on average, covering its mountains, the Blackjack Mountains, and the Indianhead Mountains.
If you are looking for a whole package thing, entertainment, fun, sports, and everything, then Big Snow Resort is your destination resort. It is like the big snow country in itself, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Both mountains offer fantastic terrain parks that suit skiers of all levels.
However, intermediate skiers will enjoy a slightly better terrain at Blackjack, as Indianhead now has a new ski carpet for beginners. But if you are looking for a big, skiable area, then Indianhead is your pick. It has 230 acres of skiable space.
What else is there?
One thing to note is that the Big Snow is not just about skiing or snowboarding or its terrain park. The resort has more to it. Every weekend, there’s live music and other fun-filled events organized at Blackjack Mountain Ski Lodge.
And there’s still more between the mountains, and you will find about 6-8 places to grab a delicious bite. And when you are all done with skiing, you can go and have fun at the Yeti Snow Fort and snow tubing slide on Blackjack.
3. Crystal Mountain Resort
Crystal Mountain Resort offers the best other than skiing if there’s one thing: their on-site lodging experience. It offers the best weekend gateway for families, and it stands out. And that is why it has always been made to list the top 10 ski resorts in Canada and the United States.
Crystal Resort features 102 acres of skiable terrain, with 58 trails, nine lifts, and 27 trails lighted for night skiing. That is a different experience altogether.
What else is there?
Crystal Mountain Resort is like a one-stop destination. It has a sumptuous spa, a golf course, and fine dining options. What else is needed to have a great weekend?
Crystal Spa always offers the best services. So, when you are tired of all the activities, you will know where to go.
Other than this, the highlights of Crystal Resort are the luxury cottages at the base of the slop and the indoor pool. And there are so many activities to be a part of here, both Summer and Winter ranging from snowshoe trails to ice skating.
It is just a 40-minute drive from Traverse City Airport.
4. Mount Bohemia Adventure Resort
6532 Gay Lac La Belle Rd, Mohawk
Take a ski trip to Mount Bohemia Adventure Resort for endless skiing and adventure. But remember, Mountain Bohemia offers everything extreme. So, it is not for the chicken-hearted.
It is the best for backcountry skiers and riders, with over 500 acres of skiable terrain and 900 feet vertical drop. The runs are ungroomed, forested, featuring cliffs, slides, and chutes.
What else is there?
They have an onsite resort, a nordic spa, and a log cabin hotel with a sauna and an outdoor hot tub. And if you are really in the mood for some extreme skiing, book a trip for cat skiing at the Vodoo Mountain, nearby.
5. Pine Mountain Ski & Golf Resort
N3332 Pine Mountain Rd, Iron Mountain
Located just a few miles from downtown Iron Mountain, Pine Mountain Ski & Golf Resort has the best-groomed slopes in Upper Peninsula. This family-friendly ski area has over 30 trails and a terrain park with night skiing.
It is beautifully located between pine forests and mountain views, which adds to the scenic skiing experience.
The resort has its charm with fireplaces, private patios with local ski hill views, an 18-hole golf course, bar & cafe, and an indoor pool.
What else is there?
The one thing that sets Pine Mountain Resort apart from everyone else is its ski jump. It is considered one of the best in the world.
And the Kiwanis Ski Club every February hosts the Jump Weekend, where top jumpers from the world participate and set records.
Speaking of Pine, there’s another resort that you can check out, the Pine Knob Ski and Snowboard Resort.
6. Ski Brule
397 Brule Mountain Road, Iron River, Michigan
This is one of those places where if you come once, you find yourself coming sometime again. This ski area consistently ranks among one of the best ski resorts. It features three terrain parks and a tubing park, and also night skiing.
The mountain receives the best snow in the Midwest, so they open as early as October at times. It is a real gem for family trips with new skiers and snowboarders.
Additional winter activities are available here, like sleigh rides, dog sledding, and fat-tire biking. Various programs specially cater to kids.
And one of their significant highlights is their unique Acrobag, which launches guests off a five-foot jump into an inflatable landing pad, and this experience comes free with the purchase of a lift ticket.
7. Mt. Zion Ski Hill
E4946 Jackson Rd, Ironwood
Mt. Zion is located at Gogebic Community College campus is the oldest winter recreation complex. This is one of the best places for snow sports enthusiasts and learners.
The area is popularly known for its snow tubing park and reasonable rates. So, if you are a little tight on the budget and want to experience the snow, this is the place for you.
For beginners, this place is perfect. It has a 300 feet vertical drop, with ten slopes and trails. You can go for downhill skiing, cross country skiing, snowboarding, as well as snow tubing.
8. Alpine Valley
6775 Highland Rd, White Lake
Alpine Valley remarkably is one of the largest ski areas in southern Michigan. It features a variety of ski runs and winter facilities and is known for being fast and challenging.
It is also the best spot for ski racing and the most favorite winter destination of school groups. It offers free lift tickets for group leaders and a lot of skiing lessons.
Alpine Valley has four terrain parks and 25 runs, with affordable rentals for skiers and snowboarders.
9. Marquette Mountain Ski Area
4501 M-553, Marquette
Popularly known as the home of Northern Michigan University, this ski area is located near downtown Marquette and offers a challenging skiing experience with great views of Lake Superior.
It is a small area with just 18 runs; however, it brings about local community skiing. It offers both summer and winter activities, as it is open year-round.
Here, you will get the best of nature’s beauty in all four seasons with spectacular views.
Michigan’s Winter Wonderland: Great Lakes and Skiing Synergy
Grace Morris, the Brand Experience Director at Hellotickets, describes the presence of Lake Superior and Lake Michigan that impact the skiing experience in Michigan:
“Michigan’s geographical features, notably the Great Lakes, offer [incredibly] for winter sports enthusiasts. The lake-effect snow, driven by the lakes’ moisture, results in abundant and quality snowfall, creating exceptional skiing conditions.
This unique natural phenomenon significantly contributes to Michigan’s appeal for winter tourism.
The Great Lakes [not only] provide picturesque surroundings but also play a pivotal role in ensuring consistent and powdery snow, enhancing the overall skiing experience.
Exploring the synergy between the lakes and winter sports highlights a distinctive aspect of Michigan’s allure, making it a treasure for those seeking an unforgettable skiing adventure amid breathtaking natural beauty.”
Well, this list of best ski resorts can go long because there’s no end to ski areas in Michigan. However, we could only fit a few, so we picked the best of the best.
Michigan offers something for everyone in your family, from the adventurous to the beginners. There’s a ski area that will amaze you. There are a few more ski resorts that you can check out, which we couldn’t add to our list, but are indeed worth your time.
- Shanty Creek Resorts, located between the Summit Mountain and Schuss Mountain (a family-focused resort)
- Hanson Hills Recreation Area
- The Homestead (a closed ski resort on Bay Mountain amidst the Sleeping Bear Dunes Lakeshore), and
- Nub’s Nob Resort, located on Little Traverse Bay
Every region in Michigan will offer you something to have a great trip or a weekend gateway. But the resorts get busier and crowded as soon as the skiing season kicks in. So, book things in advance for things to run smoothly.
Guest Author: Saket Kumar