Temps are dropping, reports of snow are coming in across the Upper Peninsula and even down into the northern lower portions of Michigan this week. The NWS forecast is looking prime for the upcoming season and resorts across Michigan have prepped all summer in anticipation. We scoured the web, reached out to contacts to find out exactly what to expect this season at your local hill.
Alpine Valley – While Lake, MI
Similar to last year, Alpine Valley has expanded its snowmaking capabilities again, along with terrain park improvements and more rental gear.
Big Powderhorn Mountain – Bessemer, MI
If you recall, a fire ripped through the main lodge at Powderhorn in January. They broke ground this summer on a new lodge and what is being coined as “one of the largest ski area construction projects in the midwest” and are planning to have everything open by the start of the season.
Bittersweet Ski Area – Otsego, MI
The crew at Bittersweet has been working over the summer to increase the size of their beginner ski area and added a new beginner chair lift to service the expanded terrain.
Blackjack Ski Resort – Bessemer, MI
Rumor has it that Blackjack has made improvements in the way of glading out some areas for a couple new double black diamond runs.
Boyne Highlands & Boyne Mountain – Boyne Falls & Harbor Springs, MI
Continuously improving, both Boyne resorts received the special treatment in the off-season. At Mountain, they’ve stepped up snowmaking capacity with 20 more of the famed “Boyne Low-E” snow guns added to their arsenal! Both Highlands and Mountain took ownership of new Pisten Bully groomers to keep things smoothed out and in check. Rental gear gets a boost with both resorts purchasing 400 new pairs of Head Link skis. This is a rocker/camber ski designed to make it easier for skiers to initiate and hold a turn – progression!
If terrain parks are your gig, all features at Mountain will move from North Boyne to the Meadows area to be come the largest park at the resort. More lighting and increased snowmaking in these areas are putting Boyne on track to open their terrain park early in the season. One of the most significant (and much needed) changes comes to the Clock Tower Lodge at Boyne Mountain. The Clock Tower went under a half million dollar renovation to modernize and update the hotel rooms and suites.
Caberfae Peaks – Cadillac, MI
If you haven’t followed Caberfae this summer your first visit out will present you with some nice improvements. The Smiling Irishmen has been completely widened, making the 3/4 of a mile long trail triple its original width. 17 new snowguns have been added to Cab’s arsenal for the season that allow them to make snow at temps that are 5-6 degrees warmer and require 63% less energy to operate. 1,000 new pairs of skis and 50 snowboards arrived in the rental shop, ready for the snow. Caberfae could quite possibly be one of the best values for skiing and snowboarding in Michigan and they’re keeping that going in January by participating in Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month. Every Sunday in January, you can bring a family of 3 to the slopes from 4pm-close for just $49. Deal!
Cannonsburg – Belmont, MI
Heading into their second season under the helm of new ownership, Cannonsburg has once again made significant changes to everything! A reported 50+ terrain park features, new rope tows to service the park, and a complete banshee bungie park, that if put in place will make Cannonsburg’s park one of the largest in the midwest. Bulldozers and excavators took after the hills this summer to reshape and sculpt areas near the top of the quad lift and between the quad and the triple. Frequent riders at C-burg will notice no more ditch they have to traverse to get back to the frontside. Looking for fresh gear or just forgot your pair of gloves? Check out The Shop at Cannonsburg. The onsite shop went under the knife this summer and now has a brand new look and is stocked with gear from some of the industry’s top manufactures.
Crystal Mountain – Thompsonville, MI
Expansion and growth are the words at Crystal Mountain as they broke ground this summer on a new Loki Quad Chairlift. The fixed-grip quad chair replaces the old Loki Triple and Loki Double and opens up skiable terrain by allowing skiers and snowboarders to ride under the lift. With the new lift came improvements to snowmaking equipment and both Loki and Thor were re-sculpted to provide a more consistent terrain pitch and playful transitions. The rental fleet at Crystal gets and upgrade this season with the introduction of the new Head BYS rental system that is aimed at speeding up the entire rental process.
Hanson Hills – Grayling, MI
$1 Friday’s at Hanson Hills beginning January 6, 2012. Snag a lift ticket for just a buck and rental for just a buck. No excuses – get out there and ski or ride.
Marquette Mountain – Marquette, MI
Marquette Mountain’s crew has been busy this summer. Moving dirt all over the resort, resulting in 5 runs being widened. Weasel Gulch, Upper Rocket, Shaker, Whoop-Dee and Twilight Zone are all wider. Additional snowmaking equipment was added and 12 new rails are slated for the terrain park. A family of four can snag a “Family Week” pass for just $249 – this includes 7 consecutive days of lifts and rentals.
Mt. Bohemia – Mohawk, MI
It seems like Bohemia continues to expand with the addition of 5 new gladed runs for the season. Don’t forget to catch the $99 season pass sale on December 3rd, or if you want to get the most bang for your buck, pick up the pass that gives you access to both Mt. Bohemia and Porcupine Mountain for just $124.
Mt. Brighton – Brighton, MI
The terrain park will once again expand at Mt. Brighton this season while snowmaking equipment also receives an upgrade.
Mt. Holly – Holly, MI
Last year Mt. Holly made improvements to their lodge, this year those interior changes came in the form of an expanded rental area aimed at speeding up the entire rental process. Changes on the hill include the addition of 14 new snowguns to their arsenal.
Mt. Zion – Ironwood, MI
This little known gem in the U.P. offers up free skiing and snowboarding to all Gogebic Community College students and to anyone 62 years and older.
Nub’s Nob – Harbor Springs, MI
Nub’s claimed the top spot in the Transworld Snowboard Magazine’s reader poll for best terrain park, beating out others in the midwest. Not a bad way to kick this season off.
While trying to keep up with the tradition of “Midwest’s Best Snow,” Nub’s invested in more snowmaking equipment to assist mother nature this season. 11 new snowguns have been added to their fleet, bringing the total to 281. Those looking to experience what these new “rockered” skis are all about can make a stop into the rental shop and you will find a high-tech fleet of Rossingnol skis. The most recent news comes in the way of a 60 acre land swap that is almost complete with the State of Michigan. Those familiar with Nub’s will note that this terrain is located north of the Bigtime beginner area. The pitch of the terrain is similar to that of the Race Arena, but with significantly more vertical, lending to future terrain expansion.
Pine Knob – Clarkston, MI
Pine Knob also increased their snowmaking capabilities this year with additional snowguns. Visitor’s will notice the most significant change on Chair #6 this season. A new drive terminal was installed, allowing the chair to run at more variable speeds.
Pine Mountain – Iron Mountain, MI
If you’re looking for some added value in UP skiing and snowboarding this season it could be at Pine Mountain. This season they’re introducing the Resort Reward Program that allows you to accumulate points for every dollar you spend at any one of the resort facilities.
Porcupine Mountain – Ontonagon, MI
December 3rd is the date for you to snag a pass to both Bohemia and Porcupine Mountain for just $124.
Shanty Creek Resorts – Bellaire, MI
More changes come to Shanty Creek this season in the form of terrain park and run expansions. The terrain park at Schuss Mountain will undergo a major renovation, expanding the features and options to compete with some of the top terrain parks in the midwest. New features will show up on Purple Daze, Village Way and the Natty Park. Two new runs, Salsa and Red Fox, have been cut in alongside the Red Lift, expanding the overall skiable terrain. If you’re looking for some off-hill activities, snowmobile rentals make their way to Shanty Creek this year. Aimed at introducing families to the sport, guided tours will be available, along with 4 and 8 hour rentals.
Another one of Michigan’s best ski & snowboard deals is the Summit Only pass. For $99 you have access to Summit Mountain on weekends all season long. Making the claim of “Michigan’s Most Affordable Lift Ticket” the Summit Only ticket is just $15 a day. Deal!
Ski Brule – Iron River, MI
Typically the first to open every season in Michigan, Ski Brule says opening day is Free!
Swiss Valley – Jones, MI
Back again this season is the popular Friday Night Fights, a traveling terrain park rail jam series that travels between Swiss and nearby Timber Ridge. Swiss Valley is featuring a “For Ladies Only” Ski & Snowboard program on Saturdays throughout the month of January. Lessons will be available for beginners and intermediates.
Treetops – Gaylord, MI
This season at Treetops, their entire tickets and rental process just got easier. By combining tickets and rental purchases, the ski shop, ski school and cross country in one building, it’s like a one-stop-shop for all your needs. In addition to many new events slated for this season, those looking to cash in on pre-season pass deals can get a group of 3 or more together and purchase a season pass for $133 each – now through November 30th. Snowcross makes its way to Treetops this winter with events happening December 2-4 and March 16-18.