Michigan might not be the first place you think of when it comes to ski destinations, but it has several affordable and family friendly resorts. You won’t get 4,000 feet of vertical drop (more like 400 feet), but these resorts have other advantages, especially if you are looking for less hype and you have kids in tow.
W.J Hunter (Michigan, 2011)
Smaller Can Be Better
With fewer runs and lifts than the big resorts in the West, you can keep track of your kids easier.
Family Friendly Attractions
Because the Michigan resorts are not gifted geologically with majestic mountain runs, they have to compete in other ways. By offering many kid-friendly attractions, in addition to the skiing, they have successfully attracted the family crowd.
Cheaper Lift Tickets
Let’s face it, skiing is expensive, even in Michigan. However, you will pay a lot less for lift tickets in Michigan compared to the large, luxury resorts in places like Colorado and Utah.
Top Michigan Ski Resorts
Here are a few of the top Michigan ski resorts and the amenities they offer.
Boyne Mountain - This resort offers the biggest vertical drop (552 ft) and more skiable acres (435) than any other resort in Lower Michigan. The ski instructors are very good, especially at the children's ski school. The resort offers many activities other than skiing and snowboarding, which might be appealing for the non skiers in your family or the skiers who are taking a day off. You can go tubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ziplining, horseback riding, or dog sledding. For young kids, you can check out the evening story time, with milk and cookies.
They also have night skiing, so if you need to spend some time with kids during the day, you can get some skiing in at night by taking advantage of the Kids Club, which they offer every Saturday night. The kids can play (both indoor and outdoor games), and have pizza while you ski (or maybe go out for a drink).
Boyne Mountain is in the western side of the Lower Peninsula of Michigan.
Boyne Mountain Airport - BFA, 1 Boyne Mountain Road, Boyne Falls, MI 49713, USA
Ski Brule – This resort, in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, is more remote, but it is worth the drive. Visitors to OnTheSnow website voted it #1 in Michigan for both family friendliness and nightlife. Because it is further north, they open earlier in the season and close later than the resorts in the Lower Peninsula. Of course, this also means it is colder. They have 150 acres of skiable terrain and a vertical drop of 500 feet. They have a good mix of trail difficulty and even have some double-black diamond runs. Their claim to fame is that they have no closing date. In truth, they usually stay open until mid April, which is remarkable for Michigan. If you are going skiing in Michigan for spring break and you are worried about having enough snow, this resort is your best choice.
Crystal Mountain – This family owned family friendly resort is easy to reach, just off I-75 in the Lower Peninsula, 4 hours from Detroit and 5 hours from Chicago. In addition to skiing activities, it also offers ice skating, hockey, family campfires, an indoor pool, and even magic shows on certain dates. They have only 375 feet of vertical drop, but with plenty of green slopes, it is a great place for beginners. They also offer night skiing.
Shanty Creek Resort – This resort is smaller, but they have indoor and outdoor heated pools, in addition to tubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and dogsled rides. They have five terrain parks and over 30km of cross-country trails. If skiing does not tire you out enough, check out their extensive fitness center, which includes weight equipment, free weights, cardio equipment, dry sauna, and steam room.
Ski Brule is in the western Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
397 Brule Mountain Road, Iron River, MI 49935, USA