Michigan: Head to ‘the Mitten’ this winter for a ski getaway

Crystal Mountain
Nov 15, 2022

When you think of a winter ski vacation, destinations like Aspen or Park City may come to mind—but you don’t have to travel across the country to hit the slopes. A plethora of ski areas await you in Michigan, in all their lake effect snow glory. In fact, with more than 40 ski areas across the state, you are never more than a two-hour drive away from one.   

The Homestead

Skiing is a rite of passage in Michigan. Michiganders celebrate the sport, and all ages and skill levels are welcome to take part. The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association offers programs to encourage kids to buckle up their boots and grab some ski poles with their Cold is Cool passport program, where kids in the fourth and fifth grades can ski free at participating locations. And January is Discover Michigan Skiing month, where anyone seven years or older (or 10 and up for snowboarding) can sign up for affordable lessons and rentals.  

There are three regions across Michigan’s Lower Peninsula (the shape of which gives the state its “Mitten” moniker) that host a hub of ski areas. Some will offer the classic wintertime ski resort and lodge atmosphere, and other locations you can pair the slopes with exciting destinations nearby. Read on to learn more about each one.


Northern Michigan   

Go "up north," as Michiganders say, for a ski getaway in the northern part of Michigan's Lower Peninsula. It's the largest hub of ski areas in the state with 15 resorts. From the bunny slopes to double black diamond trails, downhill skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels will be able to find their next challenge.

Boyne Mountain, The Highlands, Crystal Mountain, Shanty Creek, Nub's Nob, Treetops, Hanson Hills and Caberfae Peaks are popular ski areas in Northern Michigan. Not only do they boast many trails options, but also feature amenities and unique activities that are great for families, like snow tubing and fat tire snow biking. 

The Homestead sits near Lake Michigan. When you arrive at the top of the slope—with adrenaline running as you’re about to conquer the trail—be sure to look around for the spectacular views of the water. 

Crystal Mountain 

You can also take in the beauty of northern Michigan on some of the many miles of trails reserved for cross-country skiing. Click into your skis, grab your poles and slide into a winter wonderland at the aptly named Cross Country Ski Headquarters near Higgins Lake or Forbush Corner Nordic in Frederic. 

After spending the day on the slopes, regroup for "après," and then spend the night cozied up by a fireplace. With lodging options like cabins, condos or chalets available for rent, and picturesque towns like Traverse City, Charlevoix and Petoskey just a short drive away, there’s a ski vacation here for everyone—whether you’re looking for something romantic, family-friendly or you’re planning your next "friendcation."

Crystal Mountain


Southeast Michigan   

With a handful of ski areas to choose from, the southeast region of Michigan is a favorite of locals looking for some winter fun, and it’s also convenient for any skiers visiting Detroit.

Glide down I-75 and conquer I-275 (trails named after nearby interstates) at metro Detroit's Alpine Valley Ski Resort. There’s also the Pine Knob Ski and Snowboard Resort situated between the Motor City and Flint. Less than 20 miles south of Flint is the Mt. Holly Ski and Snowboard Resort. And if you’re heading out from Ann Arbor, the Mt. Brighton Ski Resort is a little over 20 miles north. 

Mt. Brighton Ski Resort 

All four ski areas offer trails that vary from difficult (including experts only) to beginner (including carpet lifts, which are essentially conveyor belts that help skiers up easier hills—a helpful feature for anyone learning to ski). Each area also features terrain parks for any snowboarders or skiers looking to flex their creative muscles with some freestyle rides.   

Mt. Brighton Ski Resort 


West Michigan   

Home to vibrant cities like Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo; beautiful lake towns including Grand Haven, Holland, and Saugatuck; and five ski resorts across the region, the western side of Michigan shines all year long. Pair that with being one of Michigan's craft beer destinations, and the area is ripe for a weekend getaway.

A little over a 20-minute drive northeast of Grand Rapids is the Cannonsburg Ski Area, and about 40 minutes west of the city, right on the shores of Lake Michigan is Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl. Both ski areas are ideal for families, with Cannonsburg offering winter programs for children as young as three years old, and Mulligan’s allowing parents to ski free when visiting with their kids.  

Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area

In southwest Michigan, close to the Indiana border and about two and a half hours from Chicago is the Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area. And less than 20 miles northeast of Kalamazoo are Timber Ridge Ski Area and Bittersweet Ski Resort—though the only bittersweet part of enjoying Michigan's beloved snowsports will be when the snow melts at the season's end, and you have to wait until next year to do it all over again. 

Ready to hit the slopes? Start planning your trip with these tips.

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