Best ski resorts in Michigan

The Midwestern state of Michigan can boast a total of nearly 40 ski resorts, despite the fact that there are not too many mountain ranges in the region.

But Michigan consists of two peninsulas and the snowfall caused by the nearby lakes and the northern latitudes means that a ski resort here generally has pretty reliable snow conditions, despite the relatively small vertical compared to other states more famous for their downhill skiing.

And, with the water surrounding much of the state, there are a number of ski resorts in Michigan which can boast stunning lake views from the top stations of the ski lifts.

Most of the best-known ski resorts are in northern Michigan, either on the Upper Peninsula or over the Mackinac bridge in the central snow belt area. But there are also options for those looking for a shorter journey from the cities of southern Michigan…

Map of Ski Resorts in Michigan

Map of Michigan ski resorts
Map of ski resorts in Michigan
© SkiResorts.net

Ski Resorts in the Upper Peninsula

Mount Bohemia Ski Area

Visitors to the Mount Bohemia website might be a little taken aback by a slightly unusual message from a Michigan ski resort site: ‘No beginners allowed’.

The Mount Bohemia ski area is a paradise for expert skiers with only two ski lifts and no grooming, while the area offers around 100 advanced and expert-level ski trails on 850 feet of vertical (claimed to be the biggest in the Midwest).

Mt Bohemia Video

Mt Bohemia ski area video

There are four different ski areas to explore, with the trails offering varying degrees of back-country experience. Some require a ride back to the lift base in the resort minibus. Nearby Voodoo Mountain is run by the same operators, but offers cat-skiing instead of lift-served runs.

There is a limited amount of accommodation at Lac La Belle, including cabins and yurts, and the nearest town of any size is Houghton, around 40 miles away.

Ski resort website: www.mtbohemia.com

Big Powderhorn Mountain

Big Powderhorn Mountain is located in the south-west of the Upper Peninsula just to the north of the town of Bessemer and not far from Ironwood and the Wisconsin state line.

With more than 600 feet of vertical, the ski resort offers a good mix of trails for all abilities with ten lifts, almost all chairlifts, offering decent uplift capacity and a terrain park.

Big Powderhorn Mountain Video

Big Powderhorn Mountain ski video

Big Powderhorn Mountain does offer its own resort lodging and accommodation near the base and there is also a variety of hotels, motels, cabins and vacation rentals in the towns of Bessemer and Ironwood.

Ski resort website: bigpowderhorn.net

Indianhead Mountain – Blackjack Mountain

The two neighbouring ski areas are part of the Big Snow Resort operation and are located near the towns of Bessemer and Wakefield in the western part of the Upper Peninsula.

Indianhead Mountain is the larger of the two ski resorts, although not by much, with nine ski lifts serving mostly blue and black trails and a vertical of more than 600 feet. Indianhead Mountain also hosts night skiing on Fridays and Saturdays.

Indianhead Mountain Video

Indianhead Mountain ski video

Blackjack Mountain offers six lifts and two terrain parks on almost 500 feet of vertical.

The two ski resorts offer their own lodging with rooms, chalet-style accommodation and condos. More accommodation is available in Bessemer and Ironwood.

Ski resort website: www.bigsnow.com

Marquette Mountain

The fourth ski resort in this list of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula ski resorts is Marquette Mountain.

Marquette is the largest town on the Upper Peninsula and is host to Northern Michigan University. The ski area is only minutes outside the town and offers convenient skiing with fabulous views over Lake Superior.

Marquette Mountain Video

Marquette Mountain Ski Video

The skiing is served by three chairlifts and a drag lift covering 25 trails on 500 feet of vertical.

There is a wide range of lodging options available in downtown Marquette.

Ski resort website: marquettemountain.com


Ski Resorts in Northern Michigan – Lower Peninsula

Nub’s Nob Ski Resort

Nub’s Nob is one of the group of Michigan ski areas located at the northern tip of the Lower Peninsula and is located quite literally just over the road from the better-known Boyne Highlands ski resort.

The ski area covers 250 acres of skiable terrain over a vertical nearly 450 feet. Most of the ski runs reached by the nine chairlifts and one rope tow are beginner and intermediate standard and there is also a terrain park available.

Nub’s Nob Video

Nub’s Nob Ski Video

There is no ski resort accommodation available at the base, but there is plenty of lodging on hand at the nearby towns of Harbor Springs and Petoskey.

Ski resort website: www.nubsnob.com

Boyne Highlands Resort

Boyne Highlands is located north of Harbor Springs and close to Nub’s Nob ski area. It has the largest amount of skiable terrain in the Lower Peninsula, the biggest vertical and the longest ski run in Michigan.

It is owned by the same operators – Boyne Resorts – as the equally impressive Boyne Mountain a little way to the south and a lift ticket bought at one ski resort is valid at the other.

Boyne Highlands Video

Boyne Highlands ski video

Boyne Highlands has 55 ski trails served by a total of eight chairlifts and two magic carpets, with the majority of the terrain suitable for beginners and intermediate skiers. It also offers no less than four terrain parks.

The ski resort offers a range of hotel rooms, cottages and condos and, as with nearby Nub’s Nob, other lodging options are available in the Harbor Springs and Petoskey area.

Ski resort website: www.boynehighlands.com

Boyne Mountain Resort

The ski area at Boyne Mountain is located just outside the hamlet of Boyne Falls and only a few miles from Boyne City on Lake Charlevoix. It is the sister resort to Boyne Highlands and a lift ticket for one ski area is valid at both.

Boyne Mountain actually started operations just after World War II and the historic ski area remains one of the best-known and most popular in northern Michigan. The ski resort operations have expanded into snowboarding and freestyle skiing (there are four terrain parks and a boarder cross course) and cross country skiing with 35 kilometres of groomed trails.

Boyne Mountain Video

Boyne Mountain ski video

The ski slopes are a good mix for all ability levels and the 60 ski runs cover more than 400 acres and are served by 12 ski lifts. Ninety per cent of the skiable terrain is covered by snowmaking facilities.

Boyne Mountain Resort offers an extensive range of lodging at the base area and there are other options at nearby Boyne Falls and Boyne City.

Ski resort website: www.boynemountain.com

Shanty Creek Resort

The skiing at Shanty Creek is split over two mountains: the larger Schuss Mountain and the smaller Summit Mountain. The ski area is located near the small town of Bellaire in the northern region of the Lower Peninsula.

Schuss Mountain will be of most interest to skiers and snowboarders, with over 40 ski slopes served by eight ski lifts. There is a good mix of ski runs suited to different ability levels and plenty of other winter options, such as dog-sledding, cross country skiing and snow tubing.

Schuss Mountain Video

Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek Resort ski video

The Shanty Creek Resort offers a wide range of accommodation over three villages covering a total of eight square miles and there are also some independent options in the Bellaire area.

Ski resort website: www.shantycreek.com

Crystal Mountain

The family ski area at Crystal Mountain dates back to the Sixties and has steadily expanded into a year-round destination with extensive accommodation options, two golf courses and a spa and wellness center.

The ski resort is located just outside the small town of Thompsonville and around 45 minutes’ drive from Traverse City on Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

Crystal Mountain Video

Crystal Mountain ski video

The ski infrastructure includes six chairlifts and two surface lifts serving 45 ski runs of mixed ability levels as well as four terrain parks.

The extensive resort accommodation includes hotel rooms, vacation rentals and cottages.

Ski resort website: www.crystalmountain.com

Caberfae Peaks Ski Area

Caberfae Peaks is a smaller ski area towards the northern end of the Lower Peninsula in the Huron-Manistee National Forest near the hamlet of Harrietta.

Although the number of lifts (four) and ski runs (34) do not compete with the larger ski areas further north, Caberfae Peaks has a reputation for value-for-money skiing, with a decent vertical drop, a reasonable lift pass price and usually plenty of deals available on certain dates.

Caberfae Peaks Video

Caberfae Peaks ski video

Caberfae Peaks has its own resort accommodation at the base, but more is available in the nearby resort town of Cadillac on the lake of the same name 20 miles to the east.

Ski resort website: caberfaepeaks.com

Ski Resorts near Detroit

Mt. Holly Ski Resort

The ski area at Mount Holly is one of a cluster of ski resorts near the Detroit metropolitan area. It is located in the Groveland valley to the north-west of the city near I-75 as it runs between Pontiac and Flint.

Although Mt. Holly can boast 12 lifts, five of them are rope tows or magic carpets, and the 20 ski trails have a vertical drop of 350 feet. The entire skiable terrain is covered by snowmaking.

Mt Holly Video

Mt Holly ski video

Ski resort website: skimtholly.com

Pine Knob Ski Resort

The Pine Knob ski area is the closest ski resort to Metro Detroit, also just off I-75 but near the village of Clarkston.

The skiing offers 13 lifts on a vertical drop of nearly 300 feet, with seven of them being rope tows or magic carpets serving the beginners’ ski area. The ski area is also a popular winter destination for city snowboarders and freestyle skiers drawn to the terrain parks.

Pine Knob Video

Pine Knob ski video

Ski resort website: www.skipineknob.com

Alpine Valley Ski Resort

Alpine Valley is one of the larger ski resorts in southern Michigan. Situated just 30 minutes’ drive from Detroit, the skiing offers a variety of runs suitable for all levels on 300 feet of vertical.

There are 13 lifts, including nine chairlifts, as well as three terrain parks and a snowcross track.

Alpine Valley Video

Alpine Valley ski video

Ski resort website: skialpinevalley.com

Mt Brighton Ski Resort

Mt. Brighton is a small family ski resort in southern Michigan which has been added to the massive collection of ski areas run by Vail Resorts.

Located near the town of Brighton and just off I-96, the ski area has five chairlifts and seven surface lifts covering a total of 130 acres. The 24 ski trails are cut on a vertical drop of 230 feet and there are two terrain parks.

Mt Brighton Video

Mt Brighton ski video

The Mt Brighton ski resort does not offer its own lodging but there are plenty of options both around the I-96 exit and in the nearby town of Brighton.

Ski resort website: www.mtbrighton.com