Michigan’s Upper Peninsula should be in your winter plans
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula gets some of the most snow in the Midwest, thanks in part to the lake effect snow that Great Lakes residents know all too well. In fact, last season, some areas saw over 300 inches of snow. So, whether you arrive by driving across the famed Mackinac Bridge, or via the state's shared border with Wisconsin, a trip to "the UP" (as it's known to Michiganders) will feel like stepping into a winter wonderland.
With all that bountiful fresh powder, it’s no surprise the UP is known for snow sports. It’s even home to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame, a must-see for any self-proclaimed "ski bums."
It's not just the adults having all the fun either. In January, during Discover Michigan Skiing month, anyone seven years or older (or at least 10 years old for snowboarding) can sign up for affordable lessons and rentals. The Michigan Snowsports Industry Association (MSIA) also hosts a Cold is Cool passport program every year where kids in the fourth and fifth grades can ski for free at MSIA’s partner locations. These 10 ski areas in the UP range from family-friendly and chill to advanced skiers’ ultimate thrill. Read on to learn more about each one.
You'll enjoy the UP’s lake effect snow to the fullest at Snowriver Mountain Resort, where one lift ticket will grant you access to two different ski bases. There are 56 trails between the two mountains. Jackson Creek Summit is open every day and is where you’ll find the resort’s lodging options. Black River Basin is open Thursday-Sunday. Those slopes aren’t groomed throughout the week, so if you arrive Thursday morning, you’ll have access to days' worth of fresh, untouched powder.
Have a Superior time in Marquette
Just minutes from its namesake’s downtown and the shores of Lake Superior is Marquette Mountain Resort. Marquette is one of the biggest cities in the UP, and is home to Northern Michigan University. Take in the views of Lake Superior from the tops of the slopes during the day, and spend the evenings enjoying the bustling college town.
Jump right in
Located near the UP’s border with Wisconsin, Pine Mountain is a great option for travelers arriving from the west. A variety of trail options paired with ski-in, ski-out lodging makes this an ideal, cozy ski getaway. Unique to this resort is a professional ski jump. Every season, the Kiwanis Ski Club hosts a jumping tournament that brings out thousands of spectators to see some of the world’s top jumpers set records in all classes. This season the festivities and tournament will be held March 3-5.
Believe it or not ...
Situated next to the snowy college towns of Houghton and Hancock (the area saw over 11 feet of snow last season) you can’t go wrong with ski trip to Mont Ripley. Operated by Michigan Technical University there are 24 trails plus three snow tubing lanes (which are always a hit).
Located in the “Big Snow Country” area of the UP and home to over 250 skiable acres and 45 trails, Big Powderhorn Mountain and Resort lives up to its name. In addition to onsite lodging, four dining options, and activities like cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, this resort also has something you don’t see every day. Treat yourself to a wine hut rental, which are private ski-in, ski-out trail-side cabins with a large outdoor deck and a woodstove or fireplace. Here you can bring your own food and beverages to refuel, rest up and get warm.
Easy does it
Perfect for beginners and family-friendly, Mt. Zion is an affordable option for those learning to ski or snowboard. It’s operated by Gogebic Community College and located in the western part of the UP near bigger resorts like Snowriver and Big Powderhorn.
About as far north as you can go is Mount Bohemia, an advanced skier's dream. No beginners are allowed on these trails. Advanced or expert riders will enjoy a 900-foot vertical (one of the highest in the Midwest) and ungroomed, backcountry slopes. It's been ranked as one of the top 5 ski resorts in North America by USA Today four years in a row.
Try out snowcat skiing
Developed by Mount Bohemia, Voodoo Mountain is offering a new challenge for experienced skiers: snowcat skiing. Riders will pile into a snowcat and ride it up to the top of the mountain, where the terrain would be inaccessible otherwise. After conquering the slope, skiers will be met with the snowcat at the bottom, and ride back up for another run.
Don’t wait, ski early and late
Get the most out of the ski season at Ski Brule, a family-friendly ski area near the Wisconsin border known for usually being the first to open (yes, they’re open already) and last to close. Their record season opening date was Oct. 24, and record closer was May 15. Ski Brule prides themselves on their snow-making abilities and claim that it’s “impossible” to tell the difference between the real stuff, and what they call “Brule made” snow.
Ski “The Porkies”
The Porcupine Mountains Ski Area (also known as “The Porkies”) is located inside the Porcupine Mountains State Park. It's known for its natural beauty, backcountry terrain and picturesque views of Lake Superior. There are 20 downhill runs that range from beginner to expert, plus a natural terrain park.