It’s prime skiing season. Has your family or group of friends hit the slopes yet? With over 200 inches of natural snow so far this season in some parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, there’s no question about where to travel for your next winter vacation. North, to the U.P.!
With nine different resorts in the western half of this peninsula, you have a spectrum of options. To find which peak is right for your group, consider your priorities. Do you prefer pristine groomed runs? Do you get a rush from terrain parks? Are you seeking backcountry powder? Do you need a place for the kids to learn? Do you love to race NASTAR courses?
Find what you desire, book your lodging and pack up the car. It’s time to go skiing and snowboarding in the U.P.!
Pristine groomed runs
If you don’t want surprises in the terrain, head to the following resorts. You’ll glide from the top to the bottom on milky corduroy.
Big Powderhorn, Blackjack, Brule, Indianhead, Marquette Mountain, Mont Ripley, Pine Mountain, and the Porkies all have a great mix of groomed trails. Catering to a variety of skill levels, each person in your group will find their favorite runs.
These hills also take great pride in their snow coverage by making fresh snow whenever Mother Nature takes a break.
Powderhorn boasts three peaks of 100 percent groomed trails. Pine Mountain has the area’s widest run right under the main lift, so you can lap until you drop. Mont Ripley mixes in some tree runs if you want to switch it up. Blackjack has the biggest snow guns around. Indianhead’s peak is at the parking lot, so you get to ski down before taking the lift up.
Like your playground full of snow jumps and a variety of features? You are going to love these terrain parks.
Big Powderhorn, Blackjack, Brule, Indianhead, Marquette Mountain, Mont Ripley, Pine Mountain, and the Porkies all realize that freestyle is a lifestyle. Each of these resorts plant rails, boxes, and snow jumps, and invent some of their own unique features.
These areas also consider progression, and have parks built for beginners, intermediate, advanced, and sometimes extreme daredevils. Most parks like to keep it fresh by switching up the layout on occasion, and they all keep it safe by maintaining their features daily and posting precautions.
Blackjack has a huge jump at the bottom of their lower park where brave souls can catch some wicked air. Brule built a slick half-pipe to surf—a rare treasure. Marquette Mountain’s parks cover nearly a fifth of their skiable terrain. The variety of features at Mont Ripley and Indianhead will keep adrenaline hounds busy for hours. The Porkies produced the only park in the Midwest that’s built out of all natural features.
You’ve got the fat skis or the reverse camber snowboard, and you want to find some pow. Luckily, the U.P. gets so much snow that conditions are often supreme in the woods.
Bohemia, Marquette Mountain, Mont Ripley, and the Porkies leave an expanse of their mountain brushed only by the underside of skis and snowboards.
Mont Ripley keeps some powder stashes in their Urban Backcountry and on the outskirts of the hill. Marquette Mountain saves almost a third of their runs for backcountry pleasure. The Porkies hold a swathe of double diamond backcountry glades just west of the trails their lift accesses. You’ll have to hike or skin to the top after the chairlift, but you get to descend almost 800 vertical feet!
Mount Bohemia remains fully natural. Their open runs, glades, and cliffs are filled with powder after the fresh snow falls—and it falls often. Currently Mount Bohemia basks in over 200 inches of Mother Nature’s winter bliss.
Big Powderhorn, Blackjack, Brule, Indianhead, Marquette Mountain, Mont Ripley, Pine Mountain, and the Porkies create a comfortable place for the little ones to learn. And most places offer lessons for youngsters and adults.
Indianhead built the “Magic Carpet,” so kids can simply step on a carpeted conveyor belt after their trial down the bunny hill. Brule offers day care and a play area when the wee ones get tuckered out. Big Powderhorn has the handle tow right next to the main building, and close to the parking lot, so parents can watch without suiting up.
Blackjack, Brule, Marquette Mountain, and Pine Mountain all set up and time these events. Check their sites for when and how to sign up.
Choose your destination
Now that you know which resorts offer your favorite type of drifting, check their websites and see which is nearest to you—or which is the farthest! Get the best of winter before it gets the best of you.
Editor’s note: This article was produced in partnership with Pure Michigan.
Images by Amanda Wais