15 Oct News from Michigan’s Ski Slopes and Trails for Winter of 2017-18
Skiers and boarders can look forward to the coming season with plenty of places to enjoy Michigan’s snow-filled slopes and trails. With a combined total of 49 ski areas, boasting over 240 lifts, about 1,000 runs, more than 80 terrain parks and hundreds of kilometers of groomed cross-country, fat bike and snowshoe trails, there is something for everyone.
According to the Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA), ski areas are always looking for ways to increase enjoyment for skiers and snowboarders. Through the years, slope maintenance and snowmaking capabilities have improved dramatically – so much so that even if there is no snow at home, the ski slopes can be covered when the weather turns cold. “You can be sure that if the temperature drops below 28 degrees, the snow guns are on across Michigan,” says Mickey MacWilliams, MSIA executive director. She adds that if that is difficult to believe, the Webcam page on goskimichigan.com will prove the point. Thumbnails of webcams at ski areas statewide are easily viewed in real time with one click. In addition to more and better snowmaking and grooming equipment, ski areas across the state have made major slope and facility improvements.
The following is a rundown of improvements and special offers for the 2017-2018 season. For more information, visit goskimichigan.com, which has quick links to Michigan ski area websites.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula slopes are busy getting ready for winter. There’s no need to head to the Rockies to enjoy powder skiing when record snowfalls occur right here in Michigan. According to the National Weather Service the Upper Peninsula Snowbelt is one of the snowiest places on earth, with an average snowfall of over 203 inches (almost 17 feet!) The Keweenaw Peninsula even has a roadside marker to illustrate how much snow has fallen in that part of the Upper Peninsula. (Spoiler alert: It’s over 32 feet tall!).
Mont Ripley, which is located in the Houghton/Hancock area in the Keweenaw Peninsula, is ready to handle all that snow with a new PistenBully 400 Park Bully groomer. And, if Mother Nature doesn’t supply enough snow, they have increased their snow gun count to 25. These snow investments total over $210,000. (906) 487-2340, mtu.edu/mont-ripley
Heading north up the Keweenaw, Voodoo Mountain, which opened on a limited basis two years ago, is primed and ready for a season of snow cat skiing. Located just south of Copper Harbor, Voodoo Mountain enters it’s third season with a major expansion to a second peak and now offers over 200 acres of terrain. Voodoo Mountain was developed by Mount Bohemia and is the only commercial snow cat ski operation east of the Rockies. Skiers ride a snow cat (18 to a cab) to the top, ski down the mountain and get picked up by the snow cat for a return to the top. Down the road, Mount Bohemia has added a new section between the Haunted Valley and Outer Limits. The section contains three glade runs that parallel the Haunted Valley and drop into the bottom of the Graveyard. An additional glade run is now above Black Hole in the Outer Limits. Finally, a new run is to the right of Parrot within Pirate’s Cove that will take riders through the woods to Ghost trail on the way back to the front of the mountain. For lodging guests Bohemia has installed a 30-person hot tub adjacent to the log cabin car and a 14-person sauna. mtbohemia.com (906) 289-4105
Heading west to Bessemer, Big Powderhorn Resort combines 17 feet of average natural snowfall with incredible views of Upper Peninsula forests. To that they add family friendly specials, and a Bavarian style village with a complimentary shuttle to your choice of lodging facility. (906) 932-4838 or (800) 501-7669, bigpowderhorn.net
Located right around the corner, Indianhead Mountain and Blackjack joined forces last year to become one entity called Big Snow Resort. Skiers can now get two mountains for one with an interchangeable lift ticket. Big Snow Resort has many new things happening this winter including Bring a Friend, World Snow Day, Learn to Ski Month and New Faces Weekend! New this year are yeti forts with a tubing run at both Indianhead and Blackjack, weekend night skiing, snowmobile rentals with the main trail traversing both parking lots, Saturday night under the stars guided snowshoe, Friday Night Bean Bag Theatre, children and adult art classes, yoga and live music at multiple venues every weekend. Special events abound, including a SNOW DANCE (Heikki Lunta Dance) Party on Dec. 9th, and a torchlight parade and fireworks show on New Years Eve. College Weeks run from Jan. 5th- Jan. 21st, and there are special discounts on other weekends for New Teacher & School Staff, and New First Responders & Hospital Staff. To round out the special events there is Yooperfest, Brewski Weekend, Germanfest, Under the Big Top Weekend, Cardboard Box Races and Mountain Top Musicfest! All events can be found on the event calendar at bigsnow.com (800) 346-3426
Heading into the Lower Peninsula, the crew at Nub’s Nob Ski Area of Harbor Springs were busy adding a new 250-horsepower snowmaking pump along with upgraded piping, which will result in increased snowmaking strength. Ten Nub’s Nob snow guns were also built on site and installed on lower Easy Mile, their mile-long beginner run. In addition they purchased a brand new PistenBully Groomer, the second in two years. Sprucing things up for the winter, the Purple and Red chairlift received a fresh coat of paint and the rental building received new carpet. The Crew at Nub’s spent time on the snow testing new rental boots and chose to purchase a new fleet of Nordica boots based on comfort and performance. (231) 526-2131, nubsnob.com
This winter, Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls, and Boyne Highlands Resort in Harbor Springs, are rolling out a significant enhancement to the proprietary Boyne Low-E fan guns that make the fleet the most energy efficient marginal temperature snowmaking system in the world. This breakthrough in technology slashes energy usage by over 50%. Fans of Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands can now get passes to their favorite home resort with the introduction of resort specific passes. Boyne Mountain is offering five unique resort passes, while Boyne Highlands has six new pass products. Guests can choose from passes that offer options for families, midweek, weekends, night skiing, or a selection of dates. More on What’s New at Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls, Michigan
The 2017/18 season at Boyne Mountain Resort also brings a new PistenBully 400 Park Pro cat, enhancements to snowmaking capabilities, lights to the Ramshead terrain park, and a fleet of electric fat tire bikes with geared motors allowing riders to effortlessly traverse over virtually any terrain, including snow! For adventure lovers, a new retail store, ABENTEUER, now provides a nearly endless supply of gear, accessories and take-home souvenirs. The store is located adjacent to the Adventure Center. 1-866-759-1472, boynemountain.com
Boyne Highlands, is offering new dining experiences. The Cafeteria will feature warm cinnamon rolls and donuts in the morning and house-made cookies in the afternoon. For lunch, nosh on southern favorites and enjoy custom creations at the new ramen station. Health conscious consumers will also enjoy a selection of signature freshly prepared salads. Guests seeking a more leisurely start to their morning can partake in the new Sunday Brunch at the Country Club of Boyne. A new craft cocktail menu is available at the Slopeside Lounge, which also welcomes the return of Friday night Tap Takeovers, December 29, 2017 – March 9, 2018. Reservations for the resort’s most popular and unique dining experience, the Aonach Mor Moonlight Dinner, which transports guests by sleigh to the top of the slopes to enjoy a candlelit family-style dinner with an acoustic guitarist, will be available for online purchase this winter by visiting boynehighlands.com. The Great Lakes Snow Series is making a stop at Boyne Highlands Resort on February 24-25, 2018 for a Saturday evening slopestyle event and pipe event on Sunday morning. 1-800-462-6963, boynehighlands.com
Also part of the Boyne family, Boyne Country Sports in Novi is opening a new Burton Store within their retail outlet that will exclusively feature products from Burton, and their Anon and RED lines. Merchandise includes an extensive line-up of Burton’s industry-leading hardgoods including 2018 snowboards, boots and bindings as well as outerwear, apparel, bags, accessories and youth products. The new Burton Store will also provide shoppers with access to more progressive gear and accessories including Burton’s Restricted line and limited editions. boynecountrysports.com
Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Schuss Mountain. Opened on December 22, 1967, Shanty Creek plans celebratory events throughout the winter. A new cross-country trail, called King of the Hill, encircles Schuss Mountain going from the base of the slopes, up the right side, down to the red lift, up to the purple lift and then continues up to the top of the mountain before heading down around Belle’s Bottom and back to the base. This trail can be tackled with Nordic skis, snowshoes, or telemark skis/skins. New Glade area: Sally’s Valley, a newly created glade area among the pod of runs from the Red Lift. Sally’s Valley is for skiers who love the forest for the trees. Inside the Lodge at Cedar River additional seasonal ski lockers have been added to keep up with demand. And as always, improvements have been made to the snowmaking infrastructure including new snow guns, pumps, and cold-water source. (231) 533-8621, shantycreek.com
Renovations at Treetops Resort in Gaylord will be completed soon. The $4.5 million renovation includes all the guest rooms in The Lodge and The Inn. They also purchased a brand new Rossignol ski rental fleet. The new fleet consists of the Rossignol Experience skis and Terrain Junior skis; both of which are the official “Terrain Based Learning” skis. Treetops is also incorporating a slew of special events including an ‘80s Weekend, Tropical Weekend, Mardi Gras Weekend and Disney Weekend. They feature a Torchlight Parade and guided twilight cross-country ski every Saturday night and a free cross-country ski clinic on Fridays from 3:00 – 5:00. (855) 318-0678, treetops.com
Also in Gaylord, the big news at Otsego Club & Resort is that skiing is going public! The formerly private ski facility at the Otsego Club and Resort now will be open to the public. The Gaylord resort since 1939 has offered public lodging and golf, but closed the ski portion of the 698-acre facility to public skiing from Dec. 1 through March 31. This winter everyone can experience the club’s slopes and trails. Otsego Club’s ski facility has five lifts and 25 runs. The club recently purchased 25 new snow guns and two new groomers.1-800-752-5510, Otsegoclub.com
New for the season at Cross Country Ski Headquarters (XC Ski HQ) in Higgins Lake is a big upgrade in the snow-making department: a giant Snow Spreader! This massive, John Deere 410-bushel spreader will be able to spread man-made snow along the Rolling Hills and Trapper’s Cabin trails. Stu Colie, owner of XC Ski HQ, says “With this spreader, we plan to be able to dramatically improve the ski conditions during marginal weather. It should give us the ability to keep the trails covered in snow when icy and bare patches appear during a warm-up. This will make skiing safer and more enjoyable, and hopefully allow for an extended ski season.” In addition, the Elves at Cross Country Ski Headquarters have been working all summer long to make it easier for XC skiers and all lovers of winter to outfit themselves from afar. The online store at www.CrossCountrySki.com now has a huge variety of XC Ski Packages, winter clothing and gear. With that new gear, take advantage of free ski lessons every Saturday. (989) 821-6661 crosscountryski.com
Heading east to Lewiston, Garland Lodge goes from golf to cross-country skiing, with over 20 kilometers of groomed trails and a log lodge worthy of an enjoyable rest after an invigorating outdoor day. (877) 442-7526, garlandusa.com
The brand new Inn at the Mountain at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville will be center stage as a new Mountain Market, Bru bar, rooftop terrace and 25 suites open to the public this winter. The contemporary design of the 31,200 square-foot, $11 million expansion features floor-to-ceiling windows that frame a panorama of the downhill trails and village. A geo-thermal system with 26,000 feet of pipe 460 feet below the ground is 48% more efficient than a traditional heating and cooling system. On the slopes, Tuck’s and Little Vincent are doing a bit of trade this winter. The rails, tubes, bumps and boxes from Tuck’s will move to create a new terrain park on Little Vincent. Both are intermediate trails. Additional space has been created in Camp Totem, the resort’s learning area, which will allow for banks and rollers. Young snowboarders will also have access to the Burton Riglet Park, a flat course used as an introduction to the sport in which students are pulled through rollers and banks. Crystal Mountain has completely replaced and upgraded its fleet of rental skis and boots with HEAD Link Pro skis and Next Edge boots and outside, increased its snowmaking to 143 machines. During March Crystal Mountain hosts a month-long celebration with live entertainment under a big top tent, events, food and drink. During the final weekend of the winter season lodging guests ski free and can enjoy an Easter Eggstravaganza including the Easter Egg Hunt on March 31 and Easter Buffet on April 1. Also new this season, Crystal Mountain has joined the Freedom Pass. As part of this collective Premier Season Pass holders receive three days of free skiing at Black Mountain (NH), Bolton Valley (VT), Dartmouth Skiway (NH), Eaglecrest (AK), Granite Gorge (NH), Lost Valley (ME), Magic (VT), McIntyre (NH), Pajarito (NM), Plattekill (NY), Sipapu (NM), Ski Cooper (CO) and Whaleback (NH). 1-800-968-7686 or (231) 378-2000, crystalmountain.com
Visitors will notice the improvements at Caberfae Peaks in Cadillac before they even reach the resort. A newly paved road, which was a joint project between the Wexford County Road Commission, South Branch Township and Caberfae Peaks welcomes guests and makes traveling in and out much easier. The pavement is now over 20% wider with improved drainage on both sides of the road. On property, an upgrade to the hotel including new balconies, the addition of timber trusses and a renovated exterior was completed this summer. They have also been busy with a snowmaking expansion at the top of North Peak, including the addition of larger snowmaking pipe. The 6″ diameter pipe will allow for less friction loss and higher water pressure, which translates into increased snow production at the top of the hill. To accommodate, they’ve added four new SMI PoleCats and one new SMI Super Polecat snow guns. Caberfae also purchased a Prinoth BR 350 snow-grooming vehicle for all that additional snow. The groomer will process the snow much more efficiently and layout that beautiful corduroy that skiers and riders have grown to know and love. (231) 862-3000, Caberfaepeaks.com
Moving to Southeast Michigan, Mt. Brighton in Brighton is expanding their free equipment program. Designed to encourage new skiers and snowboarders, Mt. Brighton is offering four weeks of lessons, lift tickets and rental equipment for $349. Upon graduation from the learning program, students take home their very own new set of Élan skis or a Burton snowboard! For kids from three to 12 years old, the popular three-week ski and snowboard school program is now available in a 9-week session for beginner through advanced young skiers and riders. Mt. Brighton has also added a Burton Riglet Park for snowboarders as young as three with one hour and multi–week programs available. In addition, Mt. Brighton’s Terrain Park will have new features this season, including some from the Burton U.S. Open from last year’s contest in Vail Colorado! Some special events include: A Tree Lighting and Deck the Rails Terrain Park event to bring in the holiday season on December 16. Race Weekend is February 9-11 and features UM vs. MSU head-to-head slalom on Friday. Saturday welcomes back the adaptive Stieler, Meyers, Fields cups and the inaugural Gates for Good charity race. Sunday is Open Junior Development Team race. Finally, we’re hosting a new Banked Slalom event February 24 with a mix of race and terrain park features. (810) 229-9581, mtbrighton.com
In White Lake, Alpine Valley has added a new fleet of snow guns to better ensure that there is snow on the slopes even if there is none in your backyard. (248) 887-4183, skialpinevalley.com
In Holly, Mt. Holly has developed some exciting new terrain that is now open for the 2017-2018 season. Bulldozers and earthmovers have shaped, contoured and softened the area between the White Lightning and Mozart slopes. The name of the new slope is Aurora Pass. This trail is accessible from White Lightning and Mozart and will exit onto the Mozart run. Most of the new slope goes right under the White Lightning chairlift, is well lit and will be tons of fun for skiers and snowboarders. In addition earth was moved in a two-year improvement plan to both widen and lengthen the trail Snow White, providing space for more park features. (248) 634-8269, skimtholly.com