Something unusual in the ski industry: instead of announcing the usual price hike, Michigan’s Marquette Mountain is rolling back its daily pass to $25 and season passes to $249 with student passes (7+) $99. At the end of February this year an old web page shows lift tickets weekday were $38 and $48 on weekends and a season pass was $429.
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.