There are so many top-notch places to hit the slopes in Michigan that you can take your pick. The state ranks second in the nation by number of ski areas, which might explain why Olympic gold medalist snowboarder Nick Baumgartner and Olympic skier Winter Vinecki hail from Michigan. In the winter, skiers and snowboarders at any age or level can find ski runs, terrain parks, lessons and slopes spread across the state − many of which include overnight accommodations in cozy lodges. If you’re visiting in any other seasons, most ski resorts transform into an equally thrilling place to bike, hike or golf.
The history of commercialized winter sports in Michigan stretches back to when its first ski resort opened 93 years ago. Today the state is still trying to push boundaries, with a record-setting bridge between peaks and a ski resort designated for advanced skiers only. Become part of the state’s skiing and snowboarding legacy when you visit any of these top Michigan ski resorts.
(Note: Some of the following activities, attractions and locations may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions, reservation requirements or mask mandates. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State and local tourism boards before traveling.)
(Courtesy of Ski Brule)
In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula region sits Ski Brule, a family-friendly mountain resort offering skiing and snowboarding for all ages and abilities. Three parks designed for snowboarding offer diverse terrain ranging from smaller boxes and wider rails to pitches of various sizes through advanced wooded areas. The resort offers 17 ski trails, 11 lifts and 150 acres of navigable terrain; the property sees 150 inches of snow each year, with snowmaking capabilities as well. Ski Brule typically opens for the season in late November and remains open as long as there are good snow conditions (typically until mid-April).
Brule Village offers 15 different on-site chalets with up to six bedrooms; some feature saunas, private hot tubs, and wood or gas fireplaces. The resort’s Homestead Snow Tubing Park is an option for a fun and easy afternoon of gently sliding down the slopes. Brule is open in the summer months, with options to kayak, fish, golf and more.
Address: 397 Brule Mountain Road, Iron River, MI 49935
(Courtesy of Mount Bohemia)
Mount Bohemia is a Michigan ski resort reserved for advanced skiers only, with steep slopes, exposed rock formations and off-piste (ungroomed) terrain. There are 585 skiable acres, featuring two chairlifts and a 900-foot vertical drop. The Keeweenaw Peninsula region receives an average of 273 inches of snow each year due to the area’s lake effect. The specialty here is cat skiing, which incorporates a snowcat machine (not a feline friend). This special vehicle transports a group of skiers to a remote area; in this case, it’s a 20-minute ride to the top of Voodoo Mountain. Skiers at the resort have mentioned they were impressed to find serious, double black diamond skiing in the Midwest.
If you don’t fit the description of an experienced skier, the snowshoe and cross-country ski trails or the Nordic spa − with hot and cold thermal pools − might be a more suitable option for spending your day here. In the warmer months, yoga and wellness retreats are held at Mount Bohemia. On the shore of Lac La Belle, meaning “beautiful lake,” is where you’ll find the resort in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Address: 6532 Lac Labelle Road, Lac La Belle, MI 49950
Pine Mountain Ski and Golf Resort
Pine Mountain is a Trademark Collection by Wyndham property in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that offers Timber Stone, an 18-hole championship golf course, and a historic ski area featuring the tallest human-made ski jump in North America. There’s a 500-step climb to the base of the Pine Mountain Ski Jump. Pine Mountain was first opened to the public in 1939 by Fred Pabst of the Pabst Brewing family. Today, visitors applaud the professionalism of the staff and the all-inclusive nature of a stay, saying it makes for a carefree family vacation.
Unique among ski resorts is Pine Mountain’s Moving Mountains Adaptive Program, which provides certified ski instruction to people with disabilities. Snowmobiling is another favorite winter pastime at Pine Mountain, with around 120 miles of trails in the area around Iron Mountain, on the border of Wisconsin. The summer months at the resort stay just as busy, with rafting adventures, guided fishing trips, climbing opportunities, paintball and more.
Address: N. 3332 Pine Mountain Road, Iron Mountain, MI 49801
(Courtesy of Crystal Mountain)
Crystal Mountain is a polished, family-owned resort that boasts 58 downhill trails for skiing, 39 championship holes for golfing, spa and wellness facilities, and more, about 30 miles southwest of Traverse City. On the grounds is the Michigan Legacy Art Park, which is a densely forested 30-acre preserve with more than 50 sculptures spread out along nearly 2 miles of trails. Crystal Mountain is great for the uninitiated skier or snowboarder, or for someone looking to improve their snow skills; the property offers a wide variety of lessons − from teaching 3-year-olds to clubs for retirees.
If you’re staying on the property, you’ll find the Mountain Market to be a handy place for snacks and discovering local beer and wine from northern Michigan. Guests can even have the market fill the fridge of your room with all your favorite goodies before you arrive. The annual Beer and Brat Festival invites local breweries to the resort in May, which some returning visitors enjoy as a kickoff to summer. Crystal Mountain is situated near Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, an ideal daytrip to see the 460-foot-high dunes along 35 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline.
Address: 12500 Crystal Mountain Drive, Thompsonville, MI 49683
Big Snow Resort
Ski and board down both Indianhead and Blackjack mountains with one ticket at Big Snow Resort in northwestern Michigan. Both mountains see more than 200 inches of snow annually; Indianhead has a 638-foot vertical drop, and collectively the resort covers 400 skiable acres. Lifts include a magic carpet – a conveyor belt-style transporter for smaller slopes. Lessons with a terrain-based approach are available for beginners. Night skiing, a thrilling take on hitting the slopes, is available for a select period around New Year’s. For those not heading out to ski, Big Snow offers big fun in the form of swimming at the indoor pool, snowshoeing, yoga, snowmobiling or hiking to waterfalls in the area. Guest rooms, private condos and chalets are available to rent, accommodating up to 14 guests. Recent reviews of the lodging are mixed, with some complimenting the retro vibe and others saying the resort is in need of an update.
Address: 500 Indianhead Road, Wakefield, MI 49968
Shanty Creek Resort
(Courtesy of Shanty Creek Resort)
Set across 5,500 acres, Shanty Creek Resort encompasses four distinct villages open year-round for enjoyment in northern Michigan’s Chain O’Lakes region. Head to Summit Village, Cedar River Village, Hawk’s Eye Village or Schuss Mountain for winter snow sports, summer golf or scenic chairlift rides taking in autumn’s colors. The skiing here is serious. If you’re competitive, Schuss Mountain hosts a variety of annual ski race events; Shanty Creek also hosts the White Pine Stampede, Michigan’s oldest and longest Nordic cross-country skiing race. For big air, head to Schuss Mountain’s Monster Park. Past guests say that the slopes are well maintained regardless of the weather and that lift operators and staff are friendly.
However, there is more to do on the snow at Shanty Creek than ski or snowboard − like ride a wide-tired bike on trails of packed snow, hop on a snowmobile or take part in an all-ages opportunity to dog-sled. The dog-sledding rides last about 30 minutes and include a meet-and-greet with the pups. If you’re a dog owner, you can bring your own pooch to stay at Shanty Creek for an additional fee with a variety of pet-friendly rooms. For those looking for some time out of the cold, a private Topgolf Swing Suite is available to rent. Bellaire – where Shanty Creek Resort is located – is a small town with plenty for visitors to explore, including a brewery, winery, distillery and meadery among the picturesque Midwest scenery. If you visit during the summer, be sure to check out the Caribbean-clear waters of Torch Lake.
Address: 5780 Shanty Creek Road, Bellaire, MI 49615
Marquette Mountain Resort
Marquette Mountain is a four-season day resort in Marquette, Michigan, with views of Lake Superior. Unusual for a ski resort is its focus on art, demonstrated through installations like the “Guardians of the Hill:” giant sculptures positioned at the base of the mountain, made from old railroad parts and collectively weighing in at 5 tons. Not unusual for Michigan is the quality of its ski resorts; Marquette is no different, offering 25 ski trails across about 170 acres of slopes. Four lifts bring snow lovers to elevations of 1,275 feet at the peak, with 500-foot vertical drops.
In the summer, visitors to Marquette can take advantage of a downhill bike park with trails for all levels of mountain biking ability. The thaw of winter also brings opportunities to hike or kayak. The T-Bar is where everyone comes together to raise a toast or relax with a meal. There are a number of hotels and motels near Marquette Mountain, but you cannot stay overnight at the resort.
Address: 4501 Michigan 553, Marquette, MI 49855
Boyne Mountain Resort
(Courtesy of Boyne Mountain Resort)
Boyne Mountain is a resort with an exciting project: The property is in the process of building the world’s longest timber-towered suspension bridge, dubbed SkyBridge Michigan. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2022, the bridge will cross from the peaks of McLouth Mountain to Disciples Ridge, offering visitors (who will arrive via chairlift) the opportunity to cross the 1,203-foot pedestrian bridge while nearly 120 feet in the air. Currently, the Adventure Center is the place to embark on a daily adventure, whether that’s skiing, ice skating, tubing or year-round zip lining.
The Boyne skier will enjoy an average of 140 inches of snowfall here each year with 415 acres across 60 trails, 12 lifts and vertical elevations of 500 feet. The breakdown of the slope difficulty levels is relatively even for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. Families can try out Sno-Go, a ski-bike that blends the stability of a bike frame with your skis as the “wheels.” Open on weekends is the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark, home to seven slides and four pools. Some overnight guests felt the shops were a bit overpriced and the rooms could use some updates, but visitors say overall Boyne is a great resort with a little something for everyone.
Address: 1 Boyne Mountain Road, Boyne Falls, MI 49713
Treetops Resort in north-central Michigan prides itself on its golf chops, with 81 holes and an award-winning collection of top-rated courses. But when the temperature drops, its ski resort comes alive, offering plenty of powder for tubing, dog-sledding, sleigh rides and, of course, skiing. Treetops is the place to bring your little ones if you want to encourage them to strap into some tiny skis − children 6 and younger stay and ski for free with each paying adult. The Skiable Feast is a Treetops signature event that pairs cross-country skiing with food and beverage stations for a wintry dine-around. Trek at your own pace for nearly 4 miles, stopping along the way to enjoy stroganoff or sliders. Packages include tickets to the Skiable Feast in conjunction with an overnight stay at the resort.
Guests can choose to stay in condos, cottages, the inn or the main Treetops Lodge, which features an indoor-outdoor pool. A full-service spa at Treetops offers everything from body massages and blowouts to lash extensions. Recent reviews nod to thoughtful touches, like a bottle of Champagne in the room for a celebrating couple, but note that some areas of the resort are still outdated and under renovation. Past guests recommend booking dog-sledding early as it does sell out.
Address: 3962 Wilkinson Road, Gaylord, MI 49735
The Highlands at Harbor Springs
(Courtesy of The Highlands at Harbor Springs)
Reminiscent of summer resorts in the Catskills, The Highlands at Harbor Springs in northern Michigan has a ski-in, ski-out main lodge designed like English country estates among other bed-and-breakfast accommodation options at the resort. Enjoy seasonal dinner theater and four golf courses, which complement more than 50 groomed downhill runs for skiing in season, including the state’s longest ski run − the North Peak Pass − at 1.25 miles. The resort sees an average of 140 inches of natural snowfall each year, with 435 acres of skiable terrain and a 552-foot vertical drop. The Highlands also offers five terrain parks for snowboarding. A mountain biking park is open seasonally until early October with more than 20 miles of natural terrain, accessible with a lift ticket. Families can also enjoy an adventure camp for kids, horseback riding, hiking, a zip line and outdoor movies at dusk. Recent reviewers of The Highlands at Harbor Springs rave that it’s a tremendous all-inclusive property for families or friend groups with stellar views and above-and-beyond service.
Address: 600 Highland Drive, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Nub’s Nob Ski Resort
Less than 2 miles away from The Highlands sits Nub’s Nob, also in Harbor Springs. This approximately 65-year-old family-owned ski hill and resort is the perfect destination for the skiing − or snowboarding − purist: Nub’s focuses on the art of skiing, eschewing the other wintertime and offseason activities offered by its fellow Michigan ski resorts. Nub’s typically sees more than 120 inches of snowfall annually but also has snow-making capabilities to blanket its 248 acres of skiable terrain and 53 ski runs. The resort offers eight chairlifts to three peaks: Front Side, South Side and Pintail Peak. A vertical drop of 427 feet will keep the experts busy – and nine ski runs are dedicated to only the most advanced skiers.
Nub’s Nob is also a great place for beginners. With the right ski or snowboarding attire and equipment, anyone can access the 275,000-square-foot beginners area free of charge with no lift ticket or pass required. Lift tickets are also free for children 8 or younger with a skiing adult and seniors older than 70. Kids ages 5 to 15 can try out the Ski Academy program for weekly lessons. There are no overnight accommodations on the Nub’s Nob property, but two ski lodges provide restrooms, dining and fireplaces to cozy up to during the day. You’ll find plenty of rooms available at properties within 15 miles of the resort.
Address: 500 Nub’s Nob Road, Harbor Springs, MI 49740
Hanson Hills Recreation Area
Home of the Michigan Cup Marathon, Hanson Hills is a 1,000-acre family sports park in Grayling, just off Interstate 75. It offers a terrain park for snowboarding plus 11 downhill ski runs, snow tubing and about 20 miles of groomed cross-country skiing trails. In the summer months, visitors to Hanson Hills Recreation Area can take part in biking, hiking, disc golf or softball. Hanson Hills considers itself a hidden gem – even though it was the first downhill skiing area in the state of Michigan and only the second in the Midwest, circa 1929.
Winter programs for youth include a variety of academies, skill schools and race teams for skiing, snowboarding and even archery. Events – such as Easter egg hunts – take place here throughout the year, so check the online calendar before your visit. Most reviewers said the customer service was excellent and accommodating of those with disabilities. However, some visitors to Hanson Hills found timeslots to be oversold and encourage extra caution when booking ski or snowboard runs. A Ramada by Wyndham hotel is situated 4 miles from Hanson Hills, and Paddle Hard Brewing is a highly rated brewpub nearby.
Address: 7601 Old Lake Road, Grayling, MI 49738
Caberfae Peaks Ski & Golf
(Courtesy of Caberfae Peaks Ski & Golf)
Caberfae Peaks boasts 30 ski runs with five lifts to two mountain peaks. The ski and golf resort offers the highest lift-served peaks in the state, with gnarly vertical drops. An on-site snow sports school provides private and group lessons for skiing and snowboarding. Skiers can enjoy the food options and fireplace at The Blackmer Lodge, which bills itself as the largest day lodge in northern Michigan and is known by past guests for its affordability. Warm-weather visitors can take advantage of the nine-hole golf course. Overnight guests will stay at the slopeside 39-room Mackenzie Lodge, with apres-ski amenities like a heated outdoor pool, a hot tub and a fire pit. Lodgers receive a discount on lift tickets and have ski-in, ski-out access at the foot of the slopes − and next to the golf course.
Address: 1 Caberfae Lane, Cadillac, MI 49601
Bittersweet Ski and Snowboard Resort
Bittersweet is a seasonal resort in the Kalamazoo River Valley, with an emphasis on snowboarding and skiing. Otsego, Michigan, is about 40 miles due south of Grand Rapids, making this resort a great daytrip from the city. Among 350 vertical feet are 20 runs and seven lifts, along with two “wonder carpets” and two rope tows. Lift ticket sales are final, with no advance reservations or lift ticket capacity. Resortgoers will find a restaurant, bar and full-service ski shop in the indoor lodge, while an outdoor grill serves up burgers and brats to hungry skiers and boarders.
Recent visitors to Bittersweet rave that it’s a good resort for first-timers, with patient instructors; many wooded trails are a bonus for those more comfortable on skis. There is no lodging at the property, but a number of accommodations sit within a half-hour, including a Four Points by Sheraton in Kalamazoo or the Castle in the Country Bed & Breakfast Inn situated less than 10 miles away.
Address: 600 River Road, Otsego, MI 49078
Pine Knob Ski & Snowboard Resort
Pine Knob is a ski and snowboard resort in southeast Michigan, conveniently located between Detroit and Flint. The day resort, which is only open in the ski season, operates several chairlifts, rope tows and wonder carpet conveyors. Ski runs at Pine Knob range from beginner-friendly greens to the Wall, a double black diamond run for experts only. Three terrain parks cater to snowboarders. You’ll find food, drinks, rentals and gear for purchase in the main lodge.
Season passes are available beginning in September; patrons can also opt to purchase daily lift tickets. Reviews mention that Pine Knob is well located and equipped with sufficient facilities, but some guests felt the snacks in the food court were overpriced. If you’re a skiing enthusiast and a music lover, you’ll be glad to know that the Pine Knob Music Theatre next door has hosted big-name acts like Stevie Nicks and Josh Groban.
Address: 7778 Sashabaw Road, Clarkston, MI 48348
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