Few Midwest Ski Areas Remain Open Into April


It's been a challenging season for Midwest ski areas with below average snowfall and above average temperatures throughout much of the winter. Many of the smaller areas struggled to open by late December, and all of the ski areas in the lower Heartland have already closed for the season. Only seven ski resorts around the Great Lakes are planning to stay open until April 1, which means they will be open for Easter weekend. Only two plan on skiing into April. In some years a few have skied into the month of May.

Lutsen Mountains, located along Lake Superior's north shore in Minnesota, plans on remaining open daily through April 7, and they guarantee having at least 40 runs open into April. If they cannot meet that goal of 40 or more runs open, you may cancel your reservation without any obligation. That's more than many Heartland ski areas offer when they are fully open, and make no mistake about it, this is mountain skiing. They will be holding their annual Easter egg hunt on the slopes. Save up to 40-percent on lift and lodging through the remainder of the season. They often ski on weekends through the month of April.

In Michigan five ski resorts, three in the lower peninsula and two in the upper peninsula plan to remain open through April 1.

Crystal Mountain is offering some nice Spring Break packages March 22-April1 when you can enjoy lodging rates starting from $101, and all kids 17 and under ski and stay free with ski packages. They have a full day of activities planned for Easter on the Mountain on March 30.

Boyne Mountain has a full line-up of activities to keep everyone happy and entertained through Easter weekend, and the infamous Hemlock Open is slated to take place Saturday April 6 when teams compete skiing in the morning and play golf in the afternoon. Some years this has taken place in early May.

Nubs Nob in Michigan's LP and Snowriver Mountain Resort both plan on staying open through April 1. Snowriver is offering up to 50-percent off lodging through the rest of this month and kids ski, stay and eat free.

Ski Brule plans on staying open daily Thursday through Sunday the rest of this month. Their infamous Brule Bash takes place this coming weekend with half price lift tickets when you ski or ride in full costume. The costume contest winner receives a 2024/25 season pass. They plan on staying open into April.

Granite Peak is the only Wisconsin ski resort remaining open into April. They plan on holding their annual Pond Skim on March 30, and their annual Cardboard Cup, a fun event to watch, takes place on April 6.

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Heartland Ski Resorts Celebrating Significant Milestones


No less than seven Heartland ski areas are celebrating significant milestones this season. All have been in business at least 65 years and a couple started 85 years ago, according to the International Skiing History Association.

Pine Mountain in Michigan's UP and Wisconsin’s Wilmot Mountain, near Chicago, both opened in 1938. Wilmot has arguably produced more Midwest skiers than any other ski hill in the Heartland. Terry Peak in the Black Hills of South Dakota was the first ski resort to open in the Midwest. It opened two years earlier in 1936 followed closely by Granite Peak in the Badger State and the Wolverine State's Caberfae in 1937.

A decade later Wisconsin’s Mont Du Lac, Lutsen Mountains in Minnesota and Boyne Mountain in Michigan all opened in 1948. The Mountain also brought the first chairlift to the Midwest. Both are celebrating 75 years of hosting heartland skiers.

In 1958 Wisconsin’s Tyrol Basin and Michigan's Nubs Nob opened and are celebrating 65 years this season.

Midwest skiing has a long proud history. It’s developed at a pace with the rest of the country. Heartland ski areas have attitude and terrain to match, and these eight ski areas and resorts are great examples of the regions diversity. You don’t have to go far to find skiing and riding across this broad region. It’s been around for a few decades. An added bonus for Heartland skiers is that many of the ski areas also offer night skiing, which you don't find at many western ski resorts.

There are over 120 ski areas scattered across the Heartlands with the most grouped around the Great Lakes states. Michigan has the most ski areas with a little over 40 followed by 30 in Wisconsin and 19 in Minnesota. Michigan's Mount Bohemia in Michigan's UP was recently voted as the top ski resort in the United States by USA Today readers in it's annual poll.

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Midwest Ski Areas Opening Across Heartland


Between natural snow and cold temperatures allowing for multiple days of snowmaking in a row, several Midwest ski areas were able to open a surprising number of runs to kick-start the season this past weekend. Some will close again for more snowmaking mid-week, and reopen the following weekend for hopefully the season.

Ski areas in Michigan from Bittersweet in the southern portion of the state and all those around Detroit—Mt. Holly, Alpine Valley, Pine Knob and Mt. Brighton—were able to be open last weekend. The large resorts—Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, Nubs Nob, Treetops, Shanty Creek, Crystal Mountain and Caberfae Peaks—in the northern portion of the Lower Peninsula were also open.

Last week end saw Perfect North, one of the most southern Midwest ski areas near Cincinnati, also able to open a limited number of runs. Many ski areas in Minnesota and Wisconsin were able to open Temperatures in Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin appear to hold promise for snow making this week to supplement their snow already on slopes.

Lutsen Mountains, overlooking Lake Superior in Minnesota's Arrowhead, and Snowriver Mountain Resort, on the western end of Michigan's UP, have been able to open several runs. Both owned by Midwest Family Resort, who also owns Wisconsin's Granite Peak, are offering half-off lift and lodging specials through much of December, Lutsen's special offer is through 12-22-23, and Snowriver's is through 12-22-23. Lutsen guarantees to have at least 20 runs open by the first weekend in December, which is nearly 10 miles of trails.

Snowriver will have it's new lift, the UP's first six-seat, high-speed lift operating. It services the resort's main slopes and a big improvement over the tired, old quad chairlift that had been in use for a few decades; much faster, more capacity back up the 630-foot ski hill. It's an upside down ski resort with all the facilities and lodging on top, and that's where you start.

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Northwestern Lower Michigan Ski Resorts Opening


Downhill ski season is underway in northwestern Lower Michigan. Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands and Nubs Nob have been able to open a few slopes for this coming weekend

 Between natural snow and cold temperatures that have allowed for multiple days of snowmaking in a row the resorts are able to open limited runs to kick-start the season. They will close again next week to allow for more snowmaking mid-week and reopen in early December for the season.

 Boyne Mountain celebrates 75 years this season, which makes it the sixth oldest of over 100 ski resorts in the Midwest. The Mountain made big news last ski season with the opening of their SkyBridge and the Heartland's first eight-person, high-speed lift. Continuing improvement of their uphill capacity they will open two more new chairlifts this season. Both are in areas that needed the upgrades, Superbowl and Boyneland. Both have loading conveyors and RFID gates. The Boyneland lift will also allow quicker access to the new Disciples 8 lift. The old conveyor carpet lift in the beginner's area has been replaced with a new covered conveyor lift.

 MoonBikes, the world's first fully electric snow bike, are making a return for the second year, and will be available to rent at the Mountain. Guided tours are available. It's the only place in the Midwest that you can find these bikes to rent. New color changing LED lights and music are being added in the Top Notch Terrain Park, and the SkyBridge will also have a dazzling new light display.

 Boyne Highlands, which celebrates 60 years this season, will also have a new chairlift. It's the Heartland's first modern bubble lift, which offers a very comfortable ride up the slopes. In addition to being protected from the elements with the bubble, it is also heated and has extra wide, ergonomically designed seats. A height-adjustable loading carpet makes it ideal for families with kids. The Highlands will be open midweek nights on Wednesday and Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. This season for the first time. Night skiing lift tickets will be $25 for adults and $20 for youth and seniors. A new glade area will be open on the south end ending at the Valley runs.

 Across the valley from the Highlands, Nubs Nob replaced their main front slopes lift, the old Green Lift, with a new quad lift that's also painted green and will carry the same name. The old lift was first installed 45 years ago. That lift delivers skiers to about two-thirds of Nubs 53 runs. It's the largest capital investment at the ski area in over 20 years. They will also be offering a new learn-to-ski program for ages 9 and up called 2024: A Ski Odyssey. After two group lessons you are eligible to purchase a Bargain Pass for remainder of the season for $100 and receive a $100 discount off a ski package at Bahnhof Ski Shop in Petoskey.

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Handful Of Midwest Ski Areas Celebrating Milestones This Season


Five Heartland ski areas are celebrating significant milestones this season. All have been in business at least 65 years and a couple started in 85 and one 75 years ago, according to the National Ski Areas Association.

Pine Mountain, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, and Wilmot Mountain, just north of Chicago along the Wisconsin border, opened in 1938, and celebrate 85 years this season. They opened just a couple of years after Sun Valley in the west and Bromley Mountain opened in the east, both credited with kicking off the North American ski resort industry. That first chairlift installed at Sun Valley 87 years ago was purchased by Everett Kircher in 1947, moved to Boyne Mountain and introduced the modern era of skiing to the Heartland. It's still in use hauling visitors to the top of Mountain to hike across the world's longest timber towered suspension bridge that was opened last fall. It's available to walk across year round.

Wilmot Mountain, located just north of Chicago along Wisconsin’s border, also turned 85 this season. Its unassuming vertical drop of 230 feet is offset by its stature with the million or so skiers that have skied here since it opened in 1938. It offers 25 trails, seven lifts and two surface tows to accommodate the large weekend crowds.

Pine Mountain is also home to the Kiwanis Ski Club jumping tournament that draws the best jumpers worldwide every year. Jump Weekend is where the US jumping record was set at 140 meters/459 feet and is still held here. The ski area offers a 500-foot vertical, 27 runs, three chairlifts and two surface tows.

Lutsen Mountains, 75 years old, opened in 1948. It's the largest ski resort around the Great Lakes with a nearly 900-foot vertical, the only gondola in the Heartland, and 95 runs scattered across four mountains. It lives up to its namesake “Mountains of the Midwest.” It's located in Minnesota's Arrowhead offering gorgeous views of Lake Superior from most of it's trails.

Michigan's Nubs Nob and Wisconsin’s Tyrol BasinPine both opened in 1958 and celebrated 65 years in business this season.

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Michigan Duo Sets World Record Visiting Most Ski Areas In 24 Hours


Michigan skier Kyle Kelly and snowboarding friend Brad Dykstra set a new world record for visiting the most ski areas in a 24-hour period this past weekend.

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Northern Michigan Ski Resorts Planning On More Normal Winter


After a winter with mask mandates, restrictions of people on lifts, and having to reserve your place on the slopes ahead of time, northern Michigan ski resorts expect this season to be a more normal experience. Last season COVID interrupted the normal patterns and habits of snowsports enthusiasts at all northern Michigan ski resorts.

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Lower Michigan Ski Resorts Remaining Open Into April


Many ski areas across the lower Midwest have already closed for the season, but three ski resorts in northwest lower Michigan are planning on staying open through the first weekend of April and celebrating Easter on the slopes. With the longer days and warmer temperatures, spring offers some of the best slope times of the season.

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Glade, Backcountry Skiing Popular In The Midwest


Glade skiing, popular out west and in the east, doesn’t take a backseat in the Heartland. Ski areas located across the upper tier of the Midwest offer tree skiing and even a few cliff jumps.

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Sales Are Up For The Ski Industry Despite COVID Lockdowns


Millions of Americans would love to bust out of pandemic isolation and go skiing.

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Plan On Time Outside This Season At Northern Michigan Resorts


One thing seems certain, among the many new restrictions that will be in place at ski resorts around northern Michigan, get used to and be prepared to spend a lot more time outside. Time in lodges will be very limited.

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March Means Longer Daylight Hours And Spring Carnivals


Spring is in the air across the Heartland, which means softer temperatures and longer daylight hours to enjoy the slopes. Many ski areas celebrate the season with spring carnivals. SnoCountry takes a look at some of the best upcoming this month.

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Learning To Ski And Snowboard In Michigan Is Easy


January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard month, and throughout the Midwest ski areas are offering discounted lesson programs. Michigan offers the only statewide program, which is available at ski areas throughout the Wolverine State. None of the other Heartland state associations offer a statewide program for easy access, cost, and simplicity. The nice thing is that if you live near either one of Michigan's peninsulas you can cross the border and enroll in a ski area near you.


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Two Midwest States Offer Grade School Passports


The Michigan Snowsports Industries Association (MSIA) and Minnesota Ski Areas Association offer passport programs that allow elementary-age kids to give skiing and snowboarding a try for free. In Michigan, it covers both fourth and fifth graders. Minnesota’s program covers just fourth graders. Surprisingly Wisconsin, the Heartland state just behind Michigan for a number of ski areas doesn't offer such a program.

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Midwest March Brings Longer, Warmer Days And Carnivals


It’s been a great winter across the Heartland. Lots of snow still on the slopes, longer days to enjoy them, and many areas celebrate the season with spring carnivals. SnoCountry takes a look.

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SnoCountry Snoshots: Midwest Cold And Snowy


The recent cold snap to hit the Heartland brought with it some great snow conditions for Midwest ski areas. The coldest weather that forced many to suspend operations for two or three days fortunately came midweek. The bookend weekends brought out good crowds with great slope conditions.

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Michigan Snowboarders Break North American Record Most Ski Areas In 24 Hours


Michigan snowboarder David Zemens and friend Sabato Caputo have set a new North American record for snowboarding the most ski areas in a 24-hour period. They were able to hit 16 ski areas starting Friday evening, Jan. 11 in the northern half of the Lower Peninsula and ending Saturday evening on Jan. 12 near Detroit.

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Top Five Family Runs In Midwest


The Heartland is known for its family skiing and time together on the slopes, but, as often the case, family members take off in different directions. It’s not always easy to find slopes that can accommodate all members, but SnoCountry has found five resorts with runs that can keep all members interested and together.

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Learn To Ski And Snowboard Month And Discover Michigan Skiing


January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. Throughout the Midwest ski areas are offering discounted lesson programs. Michigan offers one of the best programs for cost and simplicity, and it’s available at ski areas throughout the Wolverine State.

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70+ Ski Club Promotes Affordable Fun, Staying Young


“Wow, that’s inspiring but I don’t think my knees will last that long!” exclaimed a thirty-something dude on the chairlift.

I had shared that I had just photographed members of the 70+ Ski Club racing, including some in their eighties and nineties.

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