Ski Resorts - 13 min read

9 Best Ski Resorts in Michigan (Family-Friendly & For All Levels!)

Jeff Clemishaw

Jeff Clemishaw, Updated September 28, 2022

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Michigan may be known as Bigfoot territory, but it is also home to over 40 unique ski areas. Michigan’s adjacency to four of the five Great Lakes makes it prime habitat for massive snowfall. Strong storms bring howling lake effect winds and snow.

This dumps feet of precipitation on the region throughout the winter. This is particularly the case in the state’s Upper Peninsula, which itself is surrounded by three great lakes.

Significant snowfall is still experienced in the lower peninsula, and comprehensive snowmaking operations make up for any dry spells. Cold nightly temperatures allow snow machines to operate early in the season, occasionally leading to an opening day in October.

You won’t find massive ski resorts in Michigan with thousands of feet in vertical, but you will find down-to-earth resorts that have been family-owned since their inception. Michigan is a great location for a family ski vacation, and experienced powder hounds can easily find a challenge up north during the region’s larger storms.

The region’s resorts also boast an impressive selection of terrain parks, which cater to the ever-growing population of freestyle skiers and snowboarders.

Let’s examine nine of the best ski resorts found in Michigan.

Best Family-Friendly Ski Resorts in Michigan

1. Boyne Mountain Resort

Credit: Wikimedia Commons / American Eagle

Located between Traverse City and Cheboygan, Michigan, Boyne Mountain Resort is a family-friendly ski resort that’s situated at the northern end of Michigan’s lower half. The nearest airport is 1 hour and 20 minutes away in Traverse City. While not the most accessible resort for out-of-state visitors, it’s an excellent option for local skiers and those willing to take a road trip. This resort started in 1948 with just one trail, one lift, and a single warming hut. It has grown to be one of the premier ski resorts found in the Midwest.

With nearly 50% of its runs being designated as green, beginner trails, Boyne is ideal for new skiers and families. Nearly the entire right side of the resort consists of long and gentle novice runs. Unlike other resorts that have a compact beginner area, inexperienced skiers will find lots of terrains to explore at Boyne Mountain. Beginners can enjoy chair lift rides all the way to the top of this mountain and still find a way down on forgiving terrain.

This resort may not see as much snow as some of its competitors in the Upper Peninsula, but luckily there is an extensive snowmaking system. In fact, over 90% of the terrain is equipped for snow blowing. Visitors can be assured that there will always be ample trail coverage throughout the season. There are also four varying terrain parks found throughout the resort, ranging from extra small to large.

Adult all-day lift tickets are $49, making this resort an incredible bargain for the number of trails that they offer.

Number of Trails: 60
Number of Lifts: 12
Vertical Feet: 500 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 140 Inches
Terrain Parks: Yes

2. Boyne Highlands

Credit: Flickr / BOYNE Michigan

Also known as The Highlands, Boyne Highlands is a lower peninsula resort located in Harbor Springs, Michigan. Accommodations are best made in Boyne City, where there are numerous dining and lodging options. Boyne Highlands has the highest vertical in the lower peninsula, making it a sought-after destination in the state. The Highlands is another family-friendly resort that caters to skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.

With equally divided terrain difficulty across the entire resort, everyone will find something to enjoy. No matter what chair you take, beginners will have a selection of green runs to get back down to the bottom without a significant challenge. Most of the intermediate terrain is accessed via the North Face chair.

This can only be accessed from the rest of the mountain by using the interconnect triple chair. All advanced trails are located in the middle of the mountain, where the steeper terrain can be found. There is a prime selection of glade areas, as well as a singular double black diamond expert trail.

The Highlands is often regarded as having the best terrain parks in Michigan. The resort offers five different terrain parks, each geared towards skiers and riders of different skill levels. Novice and expert freestyle riders alike will find features that challenge them. One of these five terrain parks is even a 13-foot halfpipe that is meticulously cut and groomed to remain in top shape.

Adult lift tickets start at $85 for midweek, up to $105 for weekends and holidays. A variety of season pass options are also available with varying access levels.

Number of Trails: 55
Number of Lifts: 10
Vertical Feet: 552 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 140 Inches
Terrain Parks: Yes

Related Read: 20 Best Romantic Getaways in Michigan

3. Ski Brule

Credit: Flickr / Kathryn Weiss

Ski Brule is an exceptionally small ski resort located in the town of Iron River, right on the Wisconsin / Upper Peninsula border. Rated as the #1 Small Ski Area in North America by On the Snow, Brule has a dedication to its customers that isn’t found at larger resorts. The mountain is owned by the same family that opened it over 60 years ago and their family-oriented approach trickles down into all aspects of the operation.

Ski Brule is usually the first resort to Open in Michigan, sometimes as early as October. This is due largely to their dedicated snowmaking team. If conditions allow, the resort can open with just 24 hours of snowmaking. Their large man-made snow operation also allows their season to persist into the spring, much longer than the surrounding mountains. On average, their season lasts 164 days.

Adult day tickets are $60, and a night ticket can be added for free. If you’re just looking to enjoy the resort at night, a singular ticket will cost $10.

Number of Trails: 17
Number of Lifts: 12
Vertical Feet: 500 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 150 Inches
Terrain Parks: Yes

4. Crystal Mountain

Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Jhansonxi

Crystal Mountain is a midwestern skier’s favorite. It’s a family-owned and operated ski resort located along the Eastern shore of Lake Michigan in the lower peninsula. Crystal Mountain is just a 15-minute drive from Lake Michigan, so visitors should be sure to check out the beautiful expansive views on their next trip. It’s 3.5 hours from Detroit, making it fairly accessible to the surrounding cities.

Crystal Mountain is an intermediate-level resort, with nearly 50% of the runs marked as blue. It’s quite small at only 102 skiable acres, but those just learning how to ski will find it fulfilling. Runs are short as well, with the longest one being only 0.3 miles. Beginner skiers will be able to easily complete a variety of runs without becoming exhausted.

The mountain does have various freestyle features spread throughout the resort, although there are no named terrain parks. It’s a featured destination on the Indy Pass, where pass holders can get two free day tickets, blackout day dependent. The resort has an impressive night skiing operation, with almost all runs in the main area open after dusk.

Lift tickets are affordable, with mid-level pricing of around $89. Night tickets are especially a good deal, at $35 per person from 5-9 pm.

Number of Trails: 58
Number of Lifts: 8
Vertical Feet: 375 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 132 Inches
Terrain Parks: Yes

Related Read: 20 Top Treehouse Rentals in Michigan

5. Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort

Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Jhansonxi

Big Powderhorn is a favorite of Midwestern skiers and snowboarders due to its ample natural snowfall, on-site amenities, and diversity in terrain. Located in between the towns of Bessemer and Ironwood, Big Powderhorn’s closest city is Green Bay, Wisconsin, about 4 hours away.

The terrain difficulty at Big Powderhorn is evenly spaced between beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs. No matter what you’re looking for, you will find it here. From gentle slow cruisers to steep bombing hills, novices and experts alike will be satisfied with the runs the mountain offers. Those looking for tree runs will find ample selection spread throughout the mountain. With 600 feet of vertical drop, it’s considered one of the higher resorts in the Midwest. The resort also offers snowmobile, cross country, and snowshoeing trails.

Big Powderhorn is another Michigan resort found on the Indy Pass. The resort boasts an impressive amount of off-slope amenities including two full-service restaurants and a Bavarian Style village. There are also numerous ski-in / ski-out lodging accommodations found slope side. These cabins are directly adjacent to the runs, meaning you can walk out of your bedroom and already be on the mountain ready to go.

Adult lift tickets start at $69, and one child ticket (9 and under) is always included free with an adult purchase. Big Powderhorn also offers rental and lesson packages. For around $70 you receive complete equipment rentals, one lesson, and access to the beginner slopes.

Number of Trails: 45
Number of Lifts: 10
Vertical Feet: 600 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 214 Inches
Terrain Parks: Yes

Best Expert Ski Resorts in Michigan

6. Mount Bohemia Ski Resort

Credit: Flickr / Jim Perry

Mount Bohemia is found in the most northern corner of the Upper Peninsula, making it one of the more remote ski resorts on this list. It’s located 39 miles from the nearest city of Houghton, Michigan which contains the Houghton County Memorial Airport. Like other remote Michigan resorts, this mountain is mostly suited for locals or Midwesterners looking to take a skiing road trip.

Mount Bohemia Ski Resort prides itself on its dedication to extreme terrain and significant lake effect snowfall. The resort is completely catered toward advanced and expert riders. In fact, 90% of the runs are double black diamonds. Beginners and intermediates will be completely out of luck here, as only 2% of the entire mountain are blue runs. Furthermore, not a single run is groomed, so skiers will have to be confident in their abilities to handle unexpected, variable terrain.

The resort is comprised of four sections. All are highlighted by steep, challenging terrain and expansive glade coverage. The Frontside hosts the resort’s only two chair lifts. Haunted Valley and Middle Earth are two additional sections on the outskirts of the mountain that will require some serious traversing to get back to the lift.

The final section is completely unserved by lifts and is designated only for hiking. A bus is provided at the bottom to bring you back to the start of the ascent.Daily lift tickets are available for $89 and are limited during peak Saturdays in March and April. As mentioned, this is mostly a local’s mountain and the season price reflects that. An entire season pass (excluding Saturdays) is only $99. A lifetime pass (good for 75 seasons) is $1299.

Number of Trails: 105
Number of Lifts: 2
Vertical Feet: 900 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 273 Inches
Terrain Parks: No

Related Read: 50 Most Beautiful Places in the US

7. Big Snow Resort

Credit: Flickr / kbienert927

Big Snow Resort is the combination of two smaller resorts in the western section of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The nearest major city is Green Bay, Wisconsin, about 3.5 miles away. A portion of this resort is in the Ottawa National Forest.  Big Snow receives its name due to its location in “snow country” – Upper Michigan’s lake effect snow band.

The two resorts that combine to create Big Snow are Indianhead Mountain and Blackjack Ski Resort. Purchasing a lift ticket or season pass from Big Snow gives you access to either of these mountains to ski interchangeably as you wish. Both resorts have a respectable mixing of terrain difficulty, so there will be trails for every type of skier and rider.

Indianhead is a slightly bigger resort with 240 acres of skiable terrain and 638 feet of vertical drop, compared to Blackjack’s 170 acres and 465 feet. Indianhead features one specific trail that is 40 acres itself, making it one of the larger runs in the Midwest. Both resorts have terrain park access, and Blackjack is unique in that it offers SnoCross.

The mountains are only open Thursday – Sunday and tickets normally cost $70, although they are frequently discounted. A variety of discounts are also offered for active military and college students.

Number of Trails: 56
Number of Lifts: 15
Vertical Feet: 638 and 465 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 210 Inches
Terrain Parks: Yes

Related Read: 20 Best Clear Water Beaches in Michigan

8. Nub’s Nob

Credit: Wikimedia Commons / Mr Swordfish2

Nub’s Nob is a ski resort located North of Harbor city in the lower peninsula of Michigan. Started in 1958, it has now become one of the main ski areas in Michigan and the Midwest. Nub’s Nob is known for its exceptional dedication to grooming and snow production, and its crew has consistently been award winners in the Midwest and beyond.

Most trails at Nub’s Nob are geared for beginners and intermediates, but a dash of expert terrain will keep even the most experienced skiers satisfied. The resort is broken down into three distinct mountains – Nub’s Nob North, South, and Pintail Peak. North and South areas are accessed via the main lodge area whereas Pintail is a little more separated. This is where skiers will find the least amount of crowds.

A variety of terrain parks are also found to entertain aspiring freestyle skiers and riders. Despite the area’s relatively low snowfall quantities, Nub’s Nob is an expert at snowmaking. With over 300 machines, they’re able to cover 100% of the terrain. The resort is constantly expanding and is slowly begin put onto every skier and snowboarder’s radar.

Adult lift tickets are $72 Monday-Thursday, and $98 on weekends and holidays.

Number of Trails: 53
Number of Lifts: 10
Vertical Feet: 427 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 135 Inches
Terrain Parks: Yes

9. Mt. Brighton

Credit: Flickr / Gosia007

Mt. Brighton is situated just 45 minutes west of Detroit, Michigan, making it an incredibly accessible resort for city residents. It is a small resort at just 130 acres, but quick lift operations ensure that visitors will get as many runs as possible. The terrain is divided evenly between beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain, so skiers of all skill levels will find something to enjoy.

Mt. Brighton is the only ski resort in Michigan owned and operated by Vail Resorts, the conglomerate that owns all the resorts found on the Epic Pass. Acquired in 2010, Vail pumped $10 million dollars into the resort, upgrading it with state-of-the-art equipment. Higher speed lifts, increased snowmaking, and new terrain park technology has increased the appeal of Mt. Brighton to many skiers and snowboarders.

Adult lift tickets can be purchased for around $64 dollars on the weekend, and $49 during the week. Purchasing an Epic Season pass provides you unlimited access to Mt. Brighton along with many other Vail-owned properties.

Number of Trails: 25
Number of Lifts: 13
Vertical Feet: 230 Feet
Avg. Annual Snowfall: 60 Inches
Terrain Parks: Yes

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