Skiing in the Mitten
MICHIGAN MAY NOT BE HOME TO THE MOST VERTICAL, BUT IT DOES CLAIM SOME OF THE SCRAPPIEST AND MOST AUTHENTIC SKI AREAS IN ALL OF SKI COUNTRY.
IF YOU THINK THE VERY IDEA of skiing in Michigan is a stretch, you’ve got another think coming. The Wolverine State boasts a surprising number of ski areas, with a great many of them located close to big cities and population areas. And you know it’s not because Michigan’s geography lends itself to downhill skiing. Sure, the Upper Peninsula’s Porcupine and Huron Mountains boast some decent elevation (topping out at around 2,000 feet), and it’s in this region that you’ll find many of Michigan’s more notable ski areas— Mt. Bohemia, for instance, which offers the biggest vertical drop in the state with 900 feet.
But Michigan as a whole is, shall we say, vertically challenged, so the prevalence of skiing here really comes down to climate and Michiganders’ affinity for the sport. Norwegians who immigrated and settled in this part of the country in the 1800s brought a love of the outdoors and winter activities, including various forms of skiing. Combine that with northern Michigan’s long, cold winters and lake-effect storms, and it’s easy to understand why skiing took off here.
Today, Michigan boasts a plethora of skiing options throughout the state, from large, corporate-owned destination resorts to momand-pop gems with true community vibes. Those looking for more vertical, more trails, and more snow tend to “head up north” to the Upper Lower, where some of the most affordable and accessible ski resorts sit smack-dab in one of the best snowbelts in the state.