Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a relatively remote area covering about 30% of the state’s land mass but only home to a few per cent of the population. It is surrounded by the waters of three great lakes: Lake Superior, Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and is a tourist destination for water sports in summer and for downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter.
The hills of the Upper Peninsula, the northern latitudes and the proximity of the lakes combine to create great conditions for some of the most interesting Michigan ski resorts. Those in the Ironwood area can also pop over the state line to Whitecap Mountains, one of the best Wisconsin ski resorts.
Mount Bohemia Ski Area
Mount Bohemia is located at the northern end of Upper Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula near Lac La Belle. The mountain is very deliberately designed to attract expert skiers to its 900 feet of vertical: only two runs are designated blue on the four mountains with the remainder being single or double black diamond runs. Almost all of the ski terrain available from the two lifts or by hiking (!) is left ungroomed and the ski resort website even warns ‘No Beginners Allowed’.
Nearest accommodation: There is a limited amount of accommodation, including ski-in ski-out yurts and cabins, near the base of the lifts, but the closest towns of any size are Hancock and Houghton 40 miles away.
Ski resort website: www.mtbohemia.com
Mont Ripley is the oldest ski area in Michigan and its origins date back to 1934. It has been operated by Michigan Technical University since the 1940s and is located just outside Hancock, reputed to be the snowiest town in the Midwest. The ski hill offers 24 trails on a vertical drop of 440 feet and has a good mixture of ski runs for all abilities served by its two chairlifts and a T-bar drag lift. The ski area also offers terrain parks and a snow tubing park as well as running a night skiing facility.
Nearest accommodation: Mont Ripley is located just outside the town of Hancock and there are lodging options both there and in the town of Houghton across the Keweenaw Waterway.
Ski resort website: www.mtu.edu
Accommodation for both the ski areas above can be found in the Hancock-Houghton area. Check availability for any dates through the link below:
Porcupine Mountains Ski Area
This small ski area dating back to 1941 is located on the shores of Lake Superior in the Porcupine Mountains State Park and is managed by a local community college programme who use it in educating students in their ski hill management course. The ski lifts – one triple chair and two tows – serve a vertical of 670 feet with 20 different runs mostly suited for intermediate and advanced skiers. The ski operation is only open from Friday to Monday during the winter season and there is no night skiing available.
Nearest accommodation: There is a limited amount of accommodation available near the state park but the closest towns with a good choice of lodging would be the Bessemer-Ironwood area to the south or the Houghton-Hancock area to the north.
Ski resort website: porkies.ski
Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort
Big Powderhorn Mountain is one of three ski areas in the Ironwood-Bessemer area of the Upper Peninsula near the Wisconsin state line. The ski resort, which has its own cluster of lodging at the base, is located around four miles to the north-west of Bessemer and offers more than 250 acres of ski terrain with a vertical drop of 622 feet. There are 45 trails, some with snowmaking, and a terrain park served by nine chairlifts. The ski resort is connected to the IndyPass group of independent ski resorts.
Nearest accommodation: The Big Powderhorn Mountain resort offers its own chalets and condos near the base station of the ski lifts. Alternative lodging is available in nearby Bessemer and Ironwood.
Ski resort website: bigpowderhorn.net
Big Snow Resort
Big Snow Resort actually consists of two adjacent ski areas to the north-east of Bessemer: Indianhead Mountain and Blackjack Mountain. Indianhead Mountain is slightly larger in terrain and vertical than Blackjack but both ski hills offer a decent Upper Peninsula ski experience. Combined, the two ski resorts offer 15 lifts and 56 ski trails, as well as three terrain parks. The lift pass covers both ski resorts and there is a shuttle bus service which connects the two ski areas.
Nearest accommodation: The Big Snow Resort offers its own accommodation near the base station of the ski lifts. Alternative lodging is available in nearby Bessemer and Ironwood.
Ski resort website: bigsnow.com
Accommodation for the ski areas above can be found in the Bessemer-Ironwood area. Check availability for any dates through the link below:
Marquette is the largest town on the Upper Peninsula, with a population of more than 50,000 and home to Northern Michigan University. The Marquette Mountain ski area, which started in the 1950s, is on the southern edge of the city limits and offers 25 ski trails with a vertical drop of around 500 feet. There is also a terrain park and the area offers night skiing. The mountain’s heavy winter snowfall is influenced by the nearby waters of Lake Superior and one of the attractions of skiing here is the panoramas of the lake from the top.
Nearest accommodation: There is plenty of suitable accommodation available in Marquette.
Ski resort website: marquettemountain.com
Ski Brule Resort
Ski Brule is a popular family-run ski area near the town of Iron River and the border with Wisconsin. It is known for its long winter seasons and targets opening in mid-November with the ski runs open through into May if conditions permit. The skiing terrain is served by five chairlifts and seven surface lifts covering a 500 feet vertical. There are 17 trails in total with a mix of difficulty levels and three terrain parks. Night skiing is available on terrain served by surface lifts over the weekend.
Nearest accommodation: Vacation rentals and ski condos are available from the ski resort near the base area and hotel accommodation is available in nearby Iron River.
Ski resort website: skibrule.com
Pine Mountain Ski Resort
Pine Mountain is a winter and summer resort on the outskirts of the town of Iron Mountain near the Wisconsin border in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The ski area started back in the late 1930s and also features one of the USA’s premier ski jumps. The skiing on a 500 feet vertical is served by three chairlifts and a beginners’ tow. The ski runs are generally unchallenging and the ski area, which also offers two terrain parks, is best suited to beginner and early intermediate skiers and snowboarders.
Nearest accommodation: The ski resort offers slopeside condo accommodation and rooms in its mountain lodge. More accommodation options are available down the road in Iron Mountain.
Ski resort website: www.pinemountainresort.com
Information about the skiing in other parts of the state can be found on our main Michigan Ski Resorts page.