Michigan

5 Ski Resorts in Michigan That Will Light the Fire in Your Winter Vacation

A long day speeding down the slopes? Awesome. Returning to your warm and cozy accommodation afterwards? Just as good.

Michigan is the Midwest’s skiing mecca where my family and I have spent many a memorable weekend. Need proof of its status? In terms of ski areas, it ranks second in the country (New York takes the top spot). What’s more, you’re never more than two hours from any one of the state’s 49 ski area, no matter where you are in the state.

This is where my love for the slopes grew, namely because Michigan ski resorts are so so laid back and stress-free. The runs tend to be shorter than those in the West, the mountains less intimidating and the crowds a little less pretentious. Not to mention, of course, that Midwest ski prices are more affordable than their Western counterparts.

Now that I’m older, I have an even deeper affection for skiing, and while I venture frequently to the West, I also still squeeze in time to ski Michigan’s slopes. Interested in checking out the state’s powder yourself? Put these five ski resorts in Michicgan on your radar.

Crystal Mountain

1/3

A four-season resort, Crystal Mountain comes to life in the winter where its slopeside accommodations attract families of all ages and sizes. Choose from numerous lodging styles, include bungalows, cottages, studio accommodations, homes and condominiums, and a hotel. And if you have a pet, there’s one lodge at the mountain’s base area, Boynehof, where they’re welcome.

Just don’t expect to spend much time in your room. The resort offers direct access to 102 skiable acres, including 58 downhill slopes, 27 of which are lit for night skiing. More into cross country skiing? You’ll be glad to hear you can hit just over 15 miles of trails, several of which stay lit at night. Two sit-down restaurants with full bars, two additional bars (including one where you can bring in food from any of the village’s eateries), and two carry-out restaurants, one a pizza joint and another a market with grab-and-go options, help make up Crystal Mountain’s village-like setting.

You’ll also find other winter snowsports like fat tire snow biking, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowmobiling, and horse-drawn surrey rides. Fitness fans will want to check out the Peak Fitness Center where you’ll find an indoor pool and LEED-certified Crystal Spa. And for those who want a break from the slopes or an opportunity to explore the area, you’re a short drive from Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Traverse City. Both are worth visiting for different reasons — one is a national park where you can sled down the hills or go cross country skiing and snowshoeing and the other a lakefront, brewery-oriented city with a long strip of artisan shops, cafes and restaurants.

Hotel Crystal Mountain

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (602 reviews)
Excellent Service 8.8 / 10
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Hotel Crystal Mountain

Top rated
8.8 Excellent (602 reviews)

Boyne Highlands Resort

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Boyne Highlands has long been a fan favorite among Michigan ski fans, largely because of its 435 skiable acres. It also has the longest ski run in the state at 1.25 miles. There’s another Boyne, so to speak, called Boyne Mountain, and if you feel like expanding your ski horizons, you can purchase multi-day lift tickets that can be used at both resorts. Got an Ikon Pass? You can use this seasonal pass not only at 36 other resorts around the world but here, too.

It’s not just about downhill skiing but also horseback rides, an adventure center, ziplining, tubing, sledding, snowmobiling, cross country skiing, fat tire biking, snowshoeing, even groomer rides where you can ride along with a snowcat operator. And don’t forget the terrain parks – there are four of them total here.

Lodging options are numerous at Boyne Highlands Resort and include cottages, condominiums, townhouses and an inn. Pets are even welcome at the Main Lodge or the Bartley House, a classic Michigan lodge. And fueling up for your activities is easy here. Whether you’re craving pizza or an upscale dining experience, this resort has it all. You can even reserve a Moonlight Dinner experience at the top of the mountain that starts with a sleigh ride. There’s also a spa here to soothe sore muscles.

Boyne Highlands Resort

8.4 Very good (272 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.8 / 10
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Boyne Highlands Resort

8.4 Very good (272 reviews)

Big Chalet on Big Powderhorn Mountain

Big Chalet is neither a hotel nor condominium but a house that can accommodate large groups, and with the Big Powderhorn being renowned for its family-friendly nature, it’s the perfect accommodation for families. The chalet sits right next to the mountain, so you’ll be able to ski directly to the lifts and access the 253 acres of skiable terrain and its 45 runs. If the weather is clear, you might even see Lake Superior from a chairlift. Bonus? If you’ve got any cross-country skiers in your group, they’ll be happy to know that over 11 miles of trails await them at the top of lift #4.

Of course, you can easily don your chef’s hat at the chalet, perhaps a preamble to the Ping-Pong tournament you might want to host that night. But if you feel like letting somebody else do the cooking, you can choose from a handful of taverns and pubs, all within easy reach of the chalet.

Big Chalet On Big Powderhorn Mountain

9.0 Excellent (48 reviews)
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Big Chalet On Big Powderhorn Mountain

9.0 Excellent (48 reviews)

Summit Village at Shanty Creek Resort

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Shanty Creek features three different villages, each with their own amenities and activities. Yet when you book a room or condominium at Summit Village, you’ll have views of Lake Bellaire and forests. You can also easily access the Lakeview Restaurant; the views of Lake Bellaire are worth the reservation. You’ll also have direct access to Schuss Mountain, which features two peaks. Between them, you’ll have 80 skiable acres, which amounts to over 42 runs, to play in. Done skiing? Choose from alpine tubing, fat tire biking, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and dogsledding to finish off your day.

While you can hit the mountain directly from Summit Lodge, you’ll have to rely on some type of transportation to get to other activities and restaurants in the other villages. Driving there is one option, but the resort makes it even easier to get around. A shuttle bus links the three villages or you can take the Skibra, an open-air shuttle painted like a zebra which is best for getting around with your ski gear. Want to check out downtown Bellaire for its shops and craft beverages? The shuttle can even take you there.

Shanty Creek Resorts Summit Village

7.5 Good (655 reviews)
Very good Location 8.4 / 10
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Shanty Creek Resorts Summit Village

7.5 Good (655 reviews)

Otsego Club and Resort

Four lodges make up Otsego Club and Resort that dates back to 1939, one of its early features a prominent ski club that still exists today. Less than 20 years later, it was turned into a year-round resort, and it’s become an icon in Gaylord. While downhill skiing is the focus here – there are 160 skiable acres — Otsego also includes three terrain parks and just over eight miles of cross country and snowshoe trails.

But here’s the real beauty of this Michigan gem: Super short to almost no lines. As a result, it’s a fantastic place to log as much skiing in a day as possible. Bonus? For those youngsters (even if by spirit) in your group, the O-Park offers fun for park riders of all skill levels with two medium jumps, one small jump, rails, rainbow box and dance floor. And bring your furry family member along; the resort offers a few pet-designated rooms. One unique characteristic of this resort? There are several fire pits, even on the mountain, and you can call ahead to have staff prepare you a bonfire at your favorite location.

Otsego Club and Resort

8.1 Very good (120 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.8 / 10
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Otsego Club and Resort

8.1 Very good (120 reviews)

Featured image courtesy of Robson Hatsukami MorganUnsplash