The Chicago area is most commonly associated with things like deep-dish pizza, hot dogs, and love for disappointing sports teams. While Chicago’s geographically flat landscape does not bode well for downhill skiing, good ski resorts can be found for those willing to take a drive. Within three hours of Chicago, there are plenty of ski …
Guide to Michigan’s Ski Resorts
There’s a perception that skiers in the Midwest don’t have access to many ski resorts. Michigan proves otherwise with its approximately 34 ski areas. Thanks to a variety of options in both its Upper and Lower Peninsula, resorts are within reach for nearly anyone in the region.
The ski areas vary from community hills to multi-mountain resorts. Some are traditional with more than 50 runs, while others have extra experiences like ski jumping, snowshoeing, skating, or tubing.
All of the resorts in the Lower Peninsula are easily accessible and close to plenty of food and lodging. Some in the Upper Peninsula are a bit more challenging to reach, but most still have some lodging and dining options nearby.
Michigan’s ski resorts benefit from the lake effect, causing a lot of snowfall, and receive plenty of light, fresh powder. Some resorts receive well over 200 inches of snow annually. Several ski resorts offer combination tickets that are valid for multiple locations in the state but can be limited to certain days of the week, so check the details before purchasing.
Upper Peninsula Ski Resorts
Nearly all of Michigan’s downhill ski resorts in the Upper Peninsula lie near the Wisconsin border and are within half a day’s drive from Minnesota. The most notable are Mount Bohemia Ski Area and Big Snow Resort, which merges the ski areas of Blackjack Mountain and Indianhead Mountain into one lift ticket.
The most notable thing about Mount Bohemia Ski Area on the Keweenaw Peninsula is that no beginners are allowed. This expert ski area has only 2 lifts on 585 acres of skiable terrain, most of which is backcountry for cat skiing. Other trails are accessed by hiking to the top or taking a shuttle bus, which runs frequently back to the lifts.
There is no grooming or snowmaking, so conditions are completely at the mercy of the weather and moguls carved by skiers. Nearby lodging is restricted to yurts and cabins, and there are no restaurants, but the extreme experience is worth the simple vibe.
The resorts are accessible via shuttle, giving skiers access to 56 total runs. The 2 ski areas cover more than 400 acres with primarily blue and black runs, but lengthy beginner trails for progressing skiers. Four terrain parks for all abilities can be explored between the 2 mountains.
Additional Upper Peninsula Ski Areas
- Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort
- Marquette Mountain Ski Area
- Mont Ripley Ski Hill at Michigan Technological University
- Mt. Zion on the Gogebic Community College Campus
- Pine Mountain Ski & Golf Resort
- Porcupine Mountain Ski Area
- Ski Brule
- Gladstone Ski Hill at the John & Melissa Besse Sports Park
Southwest Michigan Ski Areas
The ski options in southwest Michigan aren’t huge, but for their affordable price they provide a lot of fun. Most have terrain parks and with their snowmaking abilities, they usually remain open even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
- Cannonsburg Ski Area
- Mulligan’s Hollow Ski Bowl
- Bittersweet Ski and Snowboard Resort
- Timber Ridge Ski Area
- Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area
Ski Areas Surrounding Detroit
A handful of skiing options are available near Detroit in the nearby surrounding hills. The ski areas are small, but are great for a quick trip or for those learning to ski.
- Alpine Valley Ski Area
- Pine Knob Ski and Snowboard Resort
- Mount Brighton Ski Area
- Mount Holly Ski and Snowboard Resort
Traverse Bay and Lake Michigan Ski Areas
Nearly a dozen resorts are positioned in proximity of Lake Michigan and around the Traverse Bay area. While the area is popular in the summer months for biking and hiking, parks easily morph into a multitude of cross-country trails when the snow falls. Then the lake effect snow from Lake Michigan creates a great experience of skiing in the downhill resorts.
Cabarfae Peaks is one of the top resorts near Lake Michigan, with a 485-foot vertical drop and 30 runs at an affordable price. The resort has a backcountry ski area and 2 terrain parks for all abilities. Also of note is Challenge Mountain, a non-profit adaptive skiing program.
- Mount Holiday Ski Resort
- Hickory Hills Recreation Area
- Bay Mountain at the Homestead
- Crystal Mountain
- Petoskey Winter Sports Park
- Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek Resort
Interstate 75 Corridor Ski Areas
More than half a dozen resorts are in proximity to Interstate 75. This is where to find some of the state’s top skiing. Boyne Mountain Resort and Boyne Highlands often compete for the top spot of Michigan’s best skiing, with the Highlands covering 437 skiable acres with 55 slopes.
Boyne Mountain Resort has 60 slopes on 415 skiable acres. Both can be skied with a combined lift ticket or enjoyed on their own. Other resorts, from the center of the state to the north, can be accessed easily from the interstate.
Whether you call it the Wolverine State or the Great Lakes State, or one of its many other nicknames (such as The Mitten State), it’s apparent that Michigan has an abundance of nature all around it. And with dozens of little ski areas to explore, you’ll have a good reason to get outside this winter.