In these uncertain times, traveling for anything let alone a hobby is becoming harder and harder, and it’s probably not a great option to try and head abroad, as much as we’d like to. So what do we outdoor traveling adventurists do in these situations? We look to the natural surroundings we have at home on our doorstep and make the most of them.
Winter is coming and that means some awesome snowfall, powder, and shredding in some of the most beautiful mountains in the world that call home the good old USA. There is no need to feel glum about missing your annual trips to Whistler or the Alps when there are some awesome options and weekend getaways just a 2-hour drive away.
In this article, we take a look at some of the best ski resorts in the midwest so you can still get your skiing fix in 2020. Word of warning, book early as we’re sure that everyone is probably thinking the same.
Ski Brule sits close to the border of Michigan and Wisconsin and is famed for promising to be open first and close last. Some years they open as early as October and push through all the way to April. How do they do this you might ask? This resort has the snowmaking capabilities to cover its entire 150-acre ski area, meaning that no matter when you go or the weather, you’ll be guaranteed to have slopes to ski on.
Across their 150 acres, you’ll find 17 runs that are serviced by 12 different ski lifts. The lifts work well and you don’t have much downtime between descents. Of the 17 runs, there is a good mixture of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs, ideal most people’s skill level. There are also some double black diamond runs for those experts out there but they are far and few between. 40 acres is lit for night skiing, so if you’re not quite done with your day when the sun goes down, you can just keep on going.
There are three terrain parks at the resort that snowboarders will love. The resort is also great for beginners and offers a free Learn-To-Ride program for first-timers aged 10 years and over. This makes it an ideal place for the family to go skiing and get the little ones confident on their skis.
The resort is family-friendly and offers a great apres-ski vibe too. There are some great restaurants, cafes, and places to stay while you’re there and some non-skiing activities to get involved in too, featuring rapids, snowshoe, and a tubing park.
Mount Bohemia is a hidden gem found way north on a peninsula of Lake Superior. If you’re looking for a place to test your ski skills to the max, Mt Bohemia is right up your street. It’s a small resort with a lovely restaurant and chilled accommodation that’s also served by the nearby towns of Houghton and Hancock. You can happily stay in either of the towns and drive into ski on the slopes, it’s only about an hour’s drive maximum.
The ski area forms a total of 620 acres and gets a lot of snowfall thanks to the lake effect. Within it are 105 runs, 90% of which are double black diamond. There are no beginner runs and only 2% of the 105 runs are intermediate. It’s also home to the longest vertical in the midwest with extreme backcountry sections full of forests, chutes, and cliff drops. If you’re a good skier and want to advance, some time on Mount Bohemia will do you good. It’s also ideal if you’re an expert and want to be challenged.
It’s quite a chilled ski resort with minimal apres-ski and a few restaurants to choose from. If you’re looking to get away from the crowds and get some extreme skiing done, this should be near the top of your list of ski resorts to head to.
Boyne Skir Resort sits near Lake Michigan on Michigan’s lower peninsula. It’s an awesome family-friendly resort with amazing hospitality that makes you feel at home no matter where you’re from. The ski area consists of 435 acres with snowmaking capabilities to cover a whole 400 acres, so no matter what the snow is saying, you’ll have some slopes to get into while you’re there.
There are 55 runs to choose from with an equal split across beginner, intermediate and advanced, plus one or two double black diamonds for anyone wanting to test their limits. There is a great ski school for anyone wanting to learn and if you love snowboarding or trick skiing, then 4 progressive terrain parks will keep you happy. There are even a skier/boardercross course and a 13-foot halfpipe to get to grips with. Of the 435 acres, 150 acres are lit up for some night time action so you can keep on going beyond the sunset and get the most out of your days on the mountain.
If you’re looking for some non-skiing activities to do with the kids or just on a day off, Boyne Ski Resort has that covered too. You can go tubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and hop on the zipline for an extra rush.
The resort has a wealth of places to stay with lovely restaurants and bars that create a fun, chilled apres-ski atmosphere. On average they get around 140 inches of snow a year but their 90% snowmaking capabilities mean they aren’t dependent on it.
Crystal Mountain is one of the favorite ski resorts amongst the mountain riders of the Midwest. It’s a family-owned resort full of charm and hospitality that does a great job of keeping its guests coming back year after year. Set just above the Bestie Valley near Lake Michigan it is home to 120 acres of skiable terrain with something to suit everyone. If you’re worried about snowfall levels, don’t be, Crystal Mountain has the snowmaking capability to cover a whole 96 acres so you’ll have time on the slopes guaranteed.
There are a total of 58 runs on the mountain, most of which are geared toward beginners and intermediates. There are also a could of advanced runs for any pros out there but no double black diamonds to be found. Snowboarders are welcome to ski where they please, and the added terrain features make it a lot of fun for everyone. The resort also has 3 terrain parks and 56 acres of night skiing to keep you entertained no matter what.
One great thing about Crystal Mountain that you don’t see everywhere is the 25 km of groomed cross country skiing trails, so if you’re a fan of cross country, put Crystal Mountain on the top of your list. In addition, there are also 80 acres that you can explore with snowshoes, ideal for a day off from the slopes.
The resort town is lovely, with a stream and trails running through it. There are some excellent accommodation options, restaurants, and shops to get stuck into, plus a few apres-ski bars to have fun in too.
Christie Mountain is one of those hidden gems for East Coast skiers. Found in the Blue Hills in Northern Wisconsin and is a short ride from Minneapolis. It’s a pretty small resort compared to others with just 45 acres of skiable terrain and it can get quite busy on the weekends because of how accessible it is. One great thing is that of the 45 acres, 35 of them are lit up for night skiing and they can make now for 41 of them too. So no matter what the weather is saying, you can ski for hours on end. It also gets some pretty incredible snowfall, so for any powder heads out there, this is somewhere to watch.
There are 30 runs and 4 terrain parks across the 45 acres. The runs are a great mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced and there are even some double black diamonds to check out. So despite being a little small, Christie Moutain has got something for all levels of skiers. There are cliff jumps, two tree areas, and some ungroomed powder sections.
There is a great ski school at Christie Mountain, with excellent staff and instructors. Anyone wanting to learn will have top and affordable tuition. They will even slow the lift down for you. If skiing is not your thing you can also go tubing.
The accommodation is charming as is the general vibe. There isn’t much apres-ski going on but is a great place to be with the family and very affordable.
Big Snow is one of the favorite ski resorts in the Midwest and gets an almost five-star rating across every category from apres-ski to mountain terrain and good value. The resort sits above the Ottawa National Forest and is renowned for its stunning landscapes and wildlife.
Big Snow is home to 240 acres of skiable terrain with 9 lifts to get you up to the start of the trails. The lifts are a little slow but it’s worth the wait. The resort gets excellent snowfall with an average of 204 inches per year. That’s quite a solid number there. Although they have great snowfall, the resort still has the snowmaking capability to cover 150 cares when they need to.
There are 32 runs at the resort, equally distributed across beginner, intermediate, and advanced trails. There is one double black diamond run too for anyone looking to progress or challenge their expert skiing skills. One of the trails, known as Voyagers Highway covers a huge 40 acres and is one of the largest in the Midwest.
The resort has quite a few good accommodation options and a fun apres-ski vibe with some great restaurants and bars to check out.
If diversity is your chosen angle, then Lutsen Ski Resort is somewhere you need to go. It’s absolutely huge and about quadruple the size of most Great Lakes resorts. There are over 1000 acres of skiable area that spans across four peaks of the Sawtooth Mountain Range; Moose Mountain, Eagle Mountain, Ullr Mountain, and Mystery Mountain are accessible and available for you to explore from this world-class ski resort.
Not only is there amazing skiing and boarding but the views you get of Lake Superior while cruising down the slopes add to the unforgettable experience of being there.
The 1000 acres have a 1000 ft vertical drop with over 90 runs and feature the region’s only gondola. The longest run is 2 miles long, and the trail types are varied for all levels of skiers. There are quite a few beginner runs, a lot of intermediate and advanced, with a few double black diamonds thrown in there too. The resort has eight lifts including a six-pax high-speed chair, caribou express, and an 8 person gondola. The system can handle 10,000 riders an hour, so you won’t be hanging around long to get up the mountain.
They get an average of around 120 inches of snowfall a year, more than enough when you add in the 231-acre snowmaking capabilities. The resort itself has a lovely vibe and is full of nice places to stay with some great restaurants and bars for some fun apres-ski too.
There you have it, some of the best ski resorts in the midwest. As you can see, a lot of them are based are Michigan with stunning views into the great lakes. All are easily accessible by car if you’re willing to take a long drive, or you can hire a car and drive into them from the nearest airport. Many even turn into great hiking areas in the summer!
If you’re looking for some extreme skiing without many crowds, then Mount Bohemia is the place to be. It’s full of advanced and black diamond runs that’ll push anyone’s skiing to the limits.
When you’re heading on a family ski trip, Ski Brule at Iron River is a great choice. With a free first-timer ski school and a family-friendly atmosphere and more than enough to keep everyone entertained and having an awesome time.
If it’s magical views and stunning diversity you’re after, Lutsen is where it’s at. It is great for the whole family and any pro skiers who want to be on the slopes as much as possible. There are a huge amount of different runs across 4 peaks and over 1000 acres of skiable area. You could spend a week there and never go down the same trail twice.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!