Great snow makes for happy snowboarders at Shanty Creek. (Shanty Creek/Facebook)
While results for the just finished Midwest snowsports season aren’t finalized yet at least northern Michigan resorts and ski areas are reporting they had a good season.
Lutsen Mountains is now part of the M.A.X. Pass. (Lutsen/Facebook)
The new M.A.X. Pass, with the addition of six new resorts including two from the Heartland, now offers access to 44 ski areas scattered across North America. It is now available through May 1 at its lowest price, $629 for adults, $429 teens, and $329 youth (6-12). After that prices will increase.
What’s nice for Heartlanders is that the new pass now includes: Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands, Michigan; Granite Peak, Wisconsin; and Buck Hill and Lutsen Mountains, Minnesota. The pass provides you five days at each of the ski areas listed with no blackout dates.
Depending on how many days per season you ski or ride you can bounce back and forth to the Midwest areas that are close to each other and take ski trips west or east. If you live in Michigan the two Boyne resorts are close by. Wisconsin and Minnesota snowsports enthusiasts have three areas they can visit. Both Granite Peak and Lutsen make wonderful Heartland locations for a multi-day ski vacation.
If you like to ski several days per week at your local hill you can buy a season pass for any of the five Midwest areas and upgrade to a M.A.X. Pass for an additional cost that will allow you access to the 43 other ski resorts for five days throughout the 2017/18 season. The additional cost is $329, $279 and $229 respectively and most likely can be included in the cost of your local ski area pass.
What I like about it, especially for the hardcore skier or rider, it provides you with the flexibility for lots of great choices from day trips and ski weekends around the Midwest to mountain vacations.
Families enjoy Giants Ridge and the giant views. (Jim Balfour)
Spring has come early to the Heartland this winter and most of the ski areas across the lower Midwest have closed. The best bets for some late season spring skiing into April are all centered across the northern Great Lakes, and the longer, warmer, sun filled days provide some of the best conditions of the winter.
Slush cups are part of spring fun in Michigan. (Shanty Creek)
Despite a record warm February across the Great Lakes that saw some ski areas across southern Michigan, Indiana and Ohio call it a season all ready, slopes in northern Michigan are still well covered. March’s longer, warmer days bring out the fun side of northern Michigan’s ski resorts.
Kid’s Festival Weekend takes place at Boyne Mountain, March 10-12, with all kinds of events planned for kids of every age. At Boyne Highlands the eighth annual Brew-Ski Festival happens March 10-11. Lodging packages are available for both events.
Krazy Daze events include slaloms, jump the pond competition, tailgate parties, face painting, and costume judging. On Saturday there are GS races, a Silly Slalom, and, of course, a pond skimming event.
Carnival Weekend brings out the beads, bands, and costume competitions. Check out the on-hill party at Victor Warming House on Saturday. There’s outside cookouts on the Stein Eriksen Patio and live music. The spectator friendly Slush Cup takes place on Sunday. Carnival weekend packages start from $160 per person, per night.
Nubs Nob hosts Mardi Gras March 18. A family oriented event with fun and games for all; the Soaker Cup, Costume contest, Crazy Couples, races and the Petoskey Steel Drum Band on the deck.
Crystal Mountain is celebrating sun and snow with March on the Mountain. The Spring Carnival, which includes the, cardboard classic and slush cup, takes place March 10-11. The following weekend, March 17-18, is Celts and Kayaks featuring an on slope downhill kayak race, another slush cup and Celtic dancing. Retro Weekend takes place March 24-25 with a mountain run, bike races and a free slopeside concert. Friday, March 10, is 6-for-$60. Grab six friends and head for Crystal. You can’t beat an all-mountain $10 lift ticket.
The resort is offering 25-percent off peak season lodging rates throughout the month of March in limited quantities.
Shanty Creek is hosting their Cardboard Classic March 11 and Blarney Stone Rail Jam March 18. Lift and lodging packages start from $97 per person, per night, and include breakfast. Children eight and under always sleep and ski free when staying with parents.
It’s that time of year to get out and enjoy the slopes before the season ends, and have some fun along the way.
Boyne Highlands slopes are ready for skiers and riders. (Boyne Highlands)
An up and down weather pattern that has persisted most of the winter across the Heartland and Great Lakes has now caused some ski areas across the lower Midwest to cease operations this week through Thursday. Most are hoping to re-open on Friday.
Crystal Mountain skiers slicing through the trees. (Crystal Mountain)
Glade skiing and the backcountry, popular out West and in the East, doesn’t take a backseat in the Heartland. Ski areas located across the upper tier of the Midwest offer some fine tree runs, even a few cliff jumps.
When you think backcountry skiing, Upper Michigan’s Mt. Bohemia is legendary. All backcountry, it offers the only cat skiing east of the Rockies. In Powder Magazine's annual reader poll of the best backcountry powder in North America, Bohemia routinely comes out on top in the East and finished in the top four overall one year. There’s a 900-foot vertical drop spread out over 600 acres with cliffs, chutes, trees, steep drops, all natural snow and nothing groomed. The cat skiing is off 700-foot Voodoo Mountain where runs tumble down towards Lake Superior. Annual average lake effect snow is 270-inches. It’s the only Heartland area that is truly “backcountry.”
In addition there are six other ski resorts in Lower Michigan, two in Wisconsin, and one each in Minnesota and South Dakota that offer glade skiing. There’s no backcountry but alluring glades off to the side of groomed runs and some nice swaths in between runs.
The Mountain has three advanced glades and the Highlands four scattered across the ridge. Nubs has seven glades that stretch across the front side, south side and Pintail Peak. One of their upper glade slopes can be accessed only by hiking up; just like out West.
Caberfae Peaks has a 25-acre area off the backside of North Peak marked as backcountry terrain. It’s been gladed and is nice and wide offering plenty of lines.
Wisconsin’s Granite Peak offers several acres of glades in between widely spaced runs scattered across the mountain. Minnesota’s Lutsen Mountains has glade runs scattered across three of their mountains, many well away from the groomed runs offering seclusion like you would find out West.
It can be an exhilarating experience. Just be careful, always looking ahead, bring friend and helmets required.
Join Boyne Highlands for a beginner lesson and some smiles. (Boyne Mountain)
If you’ve wanted to give winter sports a try there’s no better time if you’re a Michigan resident or living just across the border in Indiana or Wisconsin.
Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and McDonald’s Restaurants have teamed up to offer an affordable lesson program for both adults and children. It covers downhill skiing, snowboarding and cross country skiing.
The Discover Michigan Ski program includes a beginner lesson, ski or snowboard rental, and a beginner area lift pass or cross country trail pass at 27 of the state’s top ski areas. The program is available throughout the month of January. The cost for the program, which is open to everyone from 7 on up, is $20 for a cross country skiing lesson and $35 for a downhill skiing or snowboarding lesson.
Signing up is easy. The Discover Michigan Ski vouchers are available at participating Michigan McDonald Restaurants and selected ski shops while quantities last. A printable version is also available by visiting the MSIA website. The voucher lists participating ski areas. You must pre-register with the area.
“It’s been very popular program in past years,” Mickey McWilliams, longtime MSIA executive director, told SnoCountry. “It offers an affordable way to give snow sports a try, and many keep up with it after that initial lesson. We’ve been offering this program in January for several years now, and in that time a few thousand people, both young and old, have come out to give winter sports a try.”
A sampling of participating areas includes some of the larger resorts in the state; Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, Nubs Nob, Shanty Creek, Treetops in northern Lower Michigan, and Bittersweet, Timber Ridge and Apple Mountain in the southern part of the Lower Peninsula. Big Powderhorn, Ski Brule and Marquette Mountain in the UP are just a few of the participating ski areas.
Santa enjoys a run down the Shanty's Schuss Mountain slopes. (Shanty Creek)
With a forecast for cold weather and lake effect snow returning to northwest Lower Michigan later this week ski resorts are getting ready to celebrate the holiday season. Let’s hope Santa brings the snow.
Shanty Creek has several holiday events scheduled including the Sardine Special on Friday, Dec. 16, when you pack the car with as many people as possible and you all ski for the price of one, and breakfast and story time with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 17 and 23. On Christmas Day ski and ride free with Santa on the Schuss Mountain slopes. Just bring a non-perishable food item or clothing to donate. Holiday Ski Packages start from $184 per person, per night and includes lodging, lift ticket, breakfast and a group ski lesson.
Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands will be celebrating the sights and sounds of the holidays with lots of planned activities, dinners, holiday rail jams, and New Year’s Eve dinners, live bands and celebrations capped with fireworks over the ski slopes. For a complete event schedule you can click on either the Mountainor Highlands. Boyne’s 6-for-1 Day, six people can ski or ride at either resort for the price of one. It takes place Friday, Dec. 16, and celebrates North America’s first six-seat, high speed lift installed at Boyne Mountain in 1991.
Crystal Mountain will be celebrating holiday week Dec. 16 through Jan. 7, 2017. In honor of the resort’s 60th anniversary on Friday, Dec. 16 its 6-for $60 when six people can ski or ride for $60. Planned activities will be taking place every day—fat bike tours, snowshoe tours, horse drawn surrey rides—with dinners, live entertainment and New Year’s Eve celebrations. On Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, ski with Santa that afternoon.
Treetops Resort has family activities slated all day for Dec. 30, and three different New Year’s Eve dinners and celebrations; a family party, dance party and kid’s party. Overnight rates, including lodging, lift and breakfast voucher, start from $64 midweek and $80 on weekends in limited quantity.
Boyne Mountain girlfriends are ready for Time Out. (Boyne Mountain)
Women take center stage at several ski areas around the Heartland as five Midwest resorts schedule women’s clinics early January.
Minnesota's Wild Mountain is hosting a women’s snowsports Academy, ages 18 and up, in early January. Snowboarding only, Jan. 3, 6-8 p.m.; skiing only Jan. 6, 7-9 p.m.; both skiing and snowboarding, Jan. 6, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The cost is $99 for each session. Female instructors are ready to work with beginners to experienced skiers and riders on their goals.
Ohio’s Boston Mills has Women’s Snow Discovery, six lessons spaced over six weeks. Participants enjoy extra slope time after the lesson, and after the lessons are over can ski on the lesson day the rest of the season for free. The lessons, for those aged 21 and up, take place on Tuesday and Wednesday and start in January. Signup deadline is Dec. 15. Cost is $199 for lessons, $299, lessons and lift, and $389, lessons.
Mad River Mountain hosts the Snow Angles Program, an all women ski and ride instructional program for all ability levels every Sunday from noon-3 p.m. Cost is $20 per session including three hours of instruction and afternoon snack. Lift and rental not included.
Boyne Mountain hosts Time Out for women ages 15 and up. Taught by women the program offers individual instruction in a group setting. It takes place Sunday mornings, 10 weeks beginning in January from 10 a.m.-noon. The cost is $236, which does not include lift or equipment.
Indiana’s Paoli Peaks is hosting a two-day Women’s Clinic, Jan. 7-8, for women ages 18 and up who want to improve ski and snowboard skills with plenty of on-slope time. Cost is $89 for pass holders and $139 for non-holders. Registration deadline is Jan. 2, 2017.
Using an outdoor ramp, the Rockstar Energy Drink Pro-Am Rail Jam uses real snow allowing skiers and riders to throw down their best tricks. (Toronto Snow Show/Facebook)
Ski shows are always a signal that winter and snowsports season can’t be far behind. Even in this electronic age of instant communication people still love to come to the shows. You can often find some great ticket or vacation deals through the attending resorts.
Oktoberfest at Snowbird Signals the start of perfect weather and beautiful scerney in Little Cottonwood Canyon. (Snowbird/Facebook)
You might not be able to make it to Munich this fall, but annual celebrations of German culture can be found at resorts across the United States. Grab your lederhosen and dirndl and get ready to enjoy music, beer, bratwurst and pretzels with stunning fall mountain foliage as your backdrop.
About one-third of American ski and snowboard resorts have strung ziplines to keep the mountain thrills going through the summer.
Hundreds of thrill-seekers hook up and slide every offseason, choosing from full-speed rides (60 mph in some cases!) to more leisurely flights using hand brakes. Many combine with suspension bridges and other aerial challenges for a tour. Most ziplines have age and height restrictions – and require parents or guardians for youngsters.
Spend a day horseback riding through some of the most beautiful landscapes Wyoming has to offer.(Jackson Hole Central Reservations)
Our wheels often take us on adrenaline-fueled trips through the forests, but sometimes it’s worth it to explore new terrain on a different mode of transportation, one that allows us to slow down and appreciate mountain wildflowers and stunning vistas. Let an experienced guide at a mountain resort share with you the opportunity to see a favorite mountain resort by horseback.
Campers hone their culinary skills at Sugarbush's Farm-to-Plate summer camp, one of the many weekly themed summer camps. Photo courtesy Sugarbush Resort.
If you are heading to a mountain resort to enjoy golf or tennis and want the kids to have a great time in the outdoors, summer camps for kids and teens are just the ticket.
The camps focus on educational fun and outdoor activities that challenge as part of facilitating growth. They offer a huge variety to activities that kids love and some even offer camps for families.
You'll be jumping with joy at Sugarbush's $30 Thursdays. (Sugarbush)
Our majestic mountains are well-known ski destinations in the winter, but they also serve as the backdrop for some of the best golf resorts in the country. Combine a stay at a mountain retreat and you’ll find some great discounts on tee times, and they might throw in a few beverages, too.
Several Midwest ski resorts are adding a little zip to their attractions, literally. Zip Lines have become a big addition at ski resorts across the country, especially in the western mountains and New England.
I’ve been skiing at Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands in Michigan since the mid-1970s and watched them grow over the plast 40 years. Both have added more terrain, trails and terrain parks and lots of non-ski related activities.
Stein Eriksen, beyond his international persona and all his accomplishments, also had an impact on Midwest skiing even though he was here just three years.
It may be a slow start to the Midwest ski season, but things are supposed to improve by the holidays and several Heartland resorts have plans to celebrate the season. Let’s all ask Santa to bring the snow.
The Thanksgiving Holiday Weekend marks the traditional start to the ski and snowboard season, and thanks to bountiful snowfall, some resorts are rejoicing, while others would be happy with some cold table scraps.