Family friendly terrain, ski and snowboard teaching programs, and a good variety of advanced and expert terrain. Here are my top five recommendations for ski resorts in the Midwest to keep a family of differing abilities happy.
Just like for skiers and ‘boarders, golfers want to squeeze in that last day of the season. Even as most U.S. resorts are turning on their snow guns and warming up the snowcats, many still keep the golf course open for those late-season die-hards.
Autumn sweeps across the Midwest like a blaze this time of year. One of the best ways to enjoy breathtaking fall views is a slow chairlift ride to the top of the ski hill. Here’s some of the best around the upper Midwest.
Overlooking Nub's Nob slopes. (Nub's Nob)
Nub's Nob, known throughout the Midwest for meticulous grooming and snow conditions, is actually a pair of 427-foot peaks that encompasses 53 trails and numerous glades scattered over 248 skiable acres. It’s an array of imposing steep, western-like slopes in front, narrow intermediate runs with a New England feel on the southwest side, and open bowls on the north side. Pintail Peak with its stunning overlook of Lake Michigan’s Little Traverse Bay is a separate outback experience. They routinely stay open through early April.
Wilmot Mountain in the early days. (Wilmot/Facebook)
Densmore taking a turn on Boyne Highlands' slopes. (Boyne)
Spring is quickly approaching and that means ski trips to the mountains for many Heartland gals. Are you ready to enjoy all that skiing and riding?
Taking a ride through the glades. (Boyne Mountain)
When you ski and ride at Boyne Mountain you can’t help but think about the history that’s attached to this storied resort. They opened in 1947 with the first ski chairlift in the Midwest and followed with introducing the first three-, four- and six-seat chairlifts in the U.S. There were lots of other firsts, but the Mountain has aged well and the newer village and Mountain Grand Hotel are among the best in the Heartland. Classic straight forward wide runs plunge down the fall line, and Hemlock, their legendary advanced run and slope centerpiece, is still the “dean of Midwest steep.”
Powder is ticking upward at Colorado's Telluride. (Twitter/Telluride)
The storm pattern will align pretty well with the Rocky Mountain range this week meaning plentiful snow. The East will stay active while warming up.
Baumgartner in the starting gate wearing his trademark houndstooth pants. (Nick Baumgartner/Facebook)
Nick Baumgartner, who lives in Iron River in the Wolverine State’s UP and calls Ski Brule his “home hill,” got word last week that he has been named to the U.S. Olympic snowboardcross team. He also competed in the 2010 and 2014 Winter Olympics.
Participants can reach speeds of 30 mph on the luge run. (Muskegon Winter Sports Complex)
With the Olympics taking place next month ever thought about trying a luge run? It always looks pretty exciting during the competition.
Apply to become the official learn to ski family at Pine Knob. (Pine Knob)
January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month all across the nation. Throughout the Midwest many ski areas are offering discounted lesson programs, but Michigan, in my opinion, offers the best programs for the cost and simplicity.
Powder, cliffs and views. (Mount Bohemia/Facebook)
Michigan's Mount Bohemia is a powder pig’s paradise. It is not your typical Midwest ski area. There’s 900 vertical feet of black diamond I, II, and III-rated glade runs, no snow making, no grooming and nothing that a typical Heartland beginner or intermediate skier or snowboarder wants to tackle. It has made it to the final four of Powder Magazine’s annual reader’s poll for best powder in North America. It’s as close to Jackson Hole as you’ll find around the Great Lakes, and they receive up to 300-inches of light lake-effect snow per season.
Devil's Head slopes overlook Wisconsin River valley. (Devil's Head)
The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) is offering a White Gold Card that allows you to ski or snowboard a full day at 34 Michigan ski areas, and Skiing Wisconsin is offering a coupon book allowing you a day at 16 participating Badger State ski areas. It keeps your lift ticket cost for the day to around $8.
Create family memories on a cross country ski weekend. (Fischer)
Resorts run by families are great for family winter vacations packed with something for every family member from fresh home cooked food to the atmosphere and fond memories.
Big air at Blackjack. (Blackjack)
Big Snow Resort is actually two longtime Michigan resorts, Indianhead and Blackjack, that sit almost side-by-side in the ancient Penokee Mountain Range crossing western Upper Michigan and northern Wisconsin.
A jumper soars off the Pine Mountain Ski Jump. (Pine Mountain Ski Jump/Facebook)
Ski jumping was huge around the turn of the last century across the upper Midwest. Thousands of spectators would gather at jumping competitions across Michigan’s UP and around Red Wing, Minnesota. The sport dwindled and only one site remains still holding annual jumping competitions. Two new sites, one located in the western UP and another near Red Wing, are coming onboard and hopes to be hosting competitions by 2018.
Looking across the slopes at lodge and village on top of ski hill. (Otsego/Facebook)
Michigan’s Otsego Ski Club, near Gaylord, is going fully public this season and giving up its position as the nation’s oldest continuing operating private ski club. It opened in 1939.
Looking down at the Ski Brule lodge. (Ski Brule)
Michigan's Ski Brule, a longtime Midwest family favorite, offers a variety of terrain – slopes, terrain parks, terrain trails and half pipes – that flow off a 500-foot ridge. As Heartland skiers and riders have learned in past years, a Brule season pass can be a wise investment. You can count on plenty of time to use it. They hold the record for the longest Midwest season staying open 182 days during the 2005-06 season. The area normally opens in early November and stays open well into April.
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.