8 Top-Rated Ski Resorts in Michigan, 2018

You might not associate Michigan with downhill skiing. Yet visit this state once during winter, and you'll see that Michigan takes its skiing seriously. With the exception of New York, Michigan boasts more ski areas than any other state. Currently, the state has 49 ski areas, 269 lifts, 50 terrain parks, nearly 1,000 runs, and the country's only hill for ski flying, which is like ski jumping but on a larger scale.

While those statistics are impressive, two other factors set Michigan apart from other states in terms of skiing: convenience and cost. Surprisingly, no matter where you go in the state, you're always within two hours of a ski resort, and lift tickets are much more affordable than traditional ski states like Colorado and Utah.

1 Big Snow Resort

Big Snow Resort

Big Snow delivers on its name. In an average year, it receives more than 17 feet of snow to cover its two mountains, Indianhead and Blackjack. While they're both geared to handle all levels of skiers and feature terrain parks, beginner and intermediate skiers will have slightly more terrain to choose from at Blackjack, which offers night skiing, too. Yet Indianhead does have a cushy beginner's area with a new ski carpet. Of course, if it's size you're looking for, Indianhead weighs in as the favorite, featuring 270 skiable acres versus 170 acres. Big Snow isn't just about skiing, though, as it features live music every weekend and numerous other events like yoga at Blackjack Mountain Ski Lodge. Need a break from skiing? Head to the tubing slide or yeti snow fort on Blackjack, where you can climb and slide to your heart's content.

2 Boyne Resorts

Boyne Highlands
Boyne Highlands Rachel Kramer / photo modified

Michigan's best-known resort is Boyne, which actually consists of two mountains, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands. These are the two largest resorts in lower Michigan, and each boasts over 400 acres with more than 115 trails, including several mile-long runs, making the mountain feel more like those in the West. Here, you'll find America's first high-speed six-place chairlift and Michigan's first four-place chairlift. In addition, the two mountains feature 11 terrain parks and the SnowSports Academy, which always earns accolades from guests. Both mountains also offer free beginner ski and snowboard areas. For those not into the downhill scene, an impressive 70-plus kilometers of cross-country and snowshoe trails await.

Official site: www.boyne.com

Accommodation: Where to Stay in Boyne

3 Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain ski resort on a cold winter night
Crystal Mountain ski resort on a cold winter night

Crystal has scored a place on lists of the 10 best family ski resorts in the United States and Canada, putting it in the company of heavy hitters like Deer Valley in Park City, Utah and Steamboat Springs in Colorado. Credit goes not only to the 102-acre skiable terrain but also the amenities, including the luxury cottages at the base of the slope, complimentary activities like family campfires, an indoor pool with a family play area, and a full array of additional snow activities like fat-tire snowcat biking, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Crystal is also home to an 18,500-square-foot LEED certified spa. On the slopes, nine lifts give you access to 58 trails, including 27 lit for night skiing. There are also four terrain areas and four glade areas.

Official site: www.crystalmountain.com

Accommodation: Crystal Mountain

4 Mount Bohemia

Getting vertical is one of the biggest draws to Mount Bohemia, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Here, you'll find the longest vertical in the Midwest at 900 feet. Mount Bohemia is also blessed with an abundance of lake effect snow, receiving 273 inches on average every year, but because its trails are ungroomed and the runs are either expert or advanced, this is a mountain solely for serious skiers who will no doubt love the mountain's extreme backcountry area. The forested runs feature chutes and cliff drops. The resort also recently opened the Midwest's first ski resort hostel, with 24 coed bunks in two different rooms, a sauna, and outdoor hot tub, all of which are slopeside. You can also bunk in a yurt - six sleep 10 people each - or one of 12 log cabins with capacity for up to seven people each.

Official site: www.mtbohemia.com

5 Nub's Nob

Nub's Nob
Nub's Nob

If you want to get your ski legs on for the first time or before you head West, Nub's Nob is where you want to go. That's because 30 percent of the trails are marked as easiest, and another 50 percent more difficult. That leaves only a small amount assigned to most difficult, but with only a 427-foot vertical drop, even intermediate skiers should be able to tackle these trails. However, if you're a beginner, there's a free beginner area with a chairlift, so if you have any questions about whether you'll like the sport, you can always try it before buying a ticket. (As a side note, those eight years and younger and 70-plus ski free daily.) Once you're on the slope, head to Pintail Peak for fun skiing on gently winding trails.

6 Pine Mountain

Tucked away in the Upper Peninsula, family-friendly Pine Mountain likes to say it has the best groomed slopes in the Midwest. It features 27 trails and a terrain park, plus night skiing. What sets Pine Mountain apart, though, is its ski jump, often revered as one of the best in the world. Every February, the Kiwanis Ski club hosts a jumping tournament, where top jumpers in the world have set numerous records throughout the years. In fact, the US record of 459 feet, which still holds, was set at Pine Mountain. More than 20,000 spectators attend Jump Weekend.

7 Shanty Creek Resorts

Chairlift shadow
Chairlift shadow

Beginner and intermediate skiers flock to Shanty Creek Resorts, which boasts two mountains, Schuss and Summit, with 52 runs. More than 60 percent of the runs are suitable for these two levels of skiers, although the resort does feature advanced terrain as well. There are also five terrain parks, tubing, fat tire biking, and 30 kilometers of groomed and track-set trails for Nordic skiers. One designation this resort has earned throughout the years is top value in the Midwest.

Accommodation: Shanty Creek Resorts

8 Ski Brule

This might sound like more of a dessert than a ski resort, but if you ski here once, you'll see why this is the ultimate sweet treat. Ski Brule consistently ranks as one of the Midwest's best resorts. It also promises to be the first to open, sometimes as early as October, and stays open for roughly six months. Much of the credit goes to its location near the Wisconsin and Michigan border as well as its immense snowmaking capabilities. Within 24 hours, it can generate enough snow to open a trail. With three terrain parks and a tubing park, this is truly a family-friendly resort that stays open for night skiing. It also features many additional activities, including acrobag, fat bike trails, cross country and snowshoe trails, sleigh rides, and a full kids' program.

Official site: www.skibrule.com
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