Note: Pando Winter Sports Park is now part of the Cannonsburg Ski Area.
When you heard there was a chance for snow growing up, there was a mix of excitement and anxiousness that fell over you in hopes of a snow day. Unfortunately, after graduating from high school that feeling turns into a mix of dread and bitterness because you no longer get those long lost snow days. All you get is terrible driving conditions and a sore back from shoveling.
For some, the only way to get through a West Michigan winter is to hibernate by the fireplace all winter. For others, it is to go outside and enjoy the magical white stuff that comes down in buckets and makes driving from November to March a nightmare.
As an avid snowboarder, I fall into the latter category of people. However, many of my fellow Michigander friends fall into the hibernation category, so I needed a winter activity that everyone could participate in to get them out into the fresh air.
Thankfully, a mere 15 minutes away from Grand Rapids is the winter activity wonderland: Pando Winter Sports Park. With snowboarding, skiing, cross-country skiing, and tubing there is something for everyone to do. They even have a lodge to warm up for the hardcore winter hibernation folks.
Pando Park offers 8+ main runs including a bunny hill, beginner through advanced slopes, 5 terrain parks, and many tree runs and hidden stashes. Downhill skiing and snowboarding is definitely something that takes a bit of coordination, so Pando offers a variety of private and group lesson options.
The group of people I visited Pando Park with were more interested in the milder activities of cross-country skiing and tubing. Being a snowboarder I was worried that I would quickly get bored without the excitement and adrenaline pumping of racing down the hill. Boy, was I wrong. My heart was pumping after just 1 minute of gliding through the wooded trails.
I found myself enjoying the slower pace of cross-country skiing because I got to take in the beautiful scenery that the fresh blanket of West Michigan snow provided. Not to mention all of the wild life that scampered about in the midst of the calming noises our skis made as they glided through the groomed trails.
All throughout our cross-country skiing adventure we could here faint screams of joy coming from the tubing hill. Of course we had to see what all of the excitement was about.
Snow tubing was a whole new adventure, and it was much less strenuous than cross-country skiing. All you had to do was lay across the tube and hold on for dear life as you sped 30 seconds downhill. The best was the towrope that magically carried you and the tube back up the hill.
When all was said and done we wandered into the lodge to warm up and rehash the day’s events over a cheeseburger and fries. Who knew that despite the cold and blizzard conditions winter could be so fun?
Pando Winter Sports Park really does have something for everyone. With its proximity to Grand Rapids and its affordable rates, you really have no excuse not to venture out and have some much-needed Michigan winter fun.