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Winter Snow Sports & Adventures

The snow turns Michigan into a winter wonderland. In fact, winter wouldn’t be the same without a proper helping of nature’s powder. As soon as those fluffy flakes start drifting down, you can step into skis or snowshoes and head out on a trail. Head out on a fat-tire bike or cruise around on a snowmobile to explore the chilly landscape. For those looking for more of an adrenaline rush, there’s award-winning downhill skiing and snowboarding, or try ice water rafting, or learn to luge. You’ll find lots of adventure to pack into your winter days in West Michigan!

Explore West Michigan’s majestic Upper Peninsula, where you’ll find a wide variety of winter activities! Try your hand at fat tire biking, hit the cross-country ski or snowshoe trails, or rev up the snowmobile for a ride around the Marquette area. 

Each winter, escapists flock to the Keweenaw Peninsula to celebrate the 270+ inches of snow that blanket Mount Bohemia’s extreme backcountry and gladed ski runs as well as the 230 miles of prime snowmobile trail which flow through conifer forests and along Lake Superior shorelines.

Make a stop just north of the Mackinac Bridge in St. Ignace to join a rousing game of pond hockey, or snowshoe through the Hiawatha National Forest. 

Grand Traverse Bike Tours of Suttons Bay will be hosting Vine to Wine snowshoe tours on Saturdays through February 29th. These guided tours hike through private orchards and winery trails on a two mile, three hour loop, stopping at wineries and cideries along the way.  

Go on a winter hike at Snowshoes, Vines, and Wines at Black Star Farms near Suttons Bay. Grab a pair of snowshoes, traverse miles of trails, and warm up with chili, mulled wine, and hot pressed sandwiches. 

Downhill enthusiasts love the gentle glacier-carved terrain of northwestern Michigan. Traverse City’s skiing is some of the best you’ll find in this part of the country. The nearby premiere full-service winter destination, Shanty Creek Resort, was rated by Ski Magazine as the Midwest’s best destination in value, dining, lodging, weather, and after-ski activities. In addition to the larger ski resorts, the area is also home to a variety of other ski areas. If skiing isn’t for you, there’s always snow tubing! Snow tubing has all the thrilling speed of a toboggan run or a sledding hill–except that you get to sit on a soft inner tube and ride down a groomed hill, with a towline at the bottom to take you back to the top. You’ll find Michigan’s largest tubing hill just north of Traverse City, and there are also good runs at Shanty Creek and Mt. Holiday Ski & Recreation Area. Hearty bike enthusiasts will also find winter sporting options on a fat-tire bike. These specially adapted mountain bikes with large tires are capable of cycling on snow and sand. Just get on the bike, ride, and have fun–even if you are new to the sport. Timber Ridge RV & Recreation Resort offers a selection of Elite Fat Tire Bikes as well as four Electric Fat Bikes for rent so you can take a test run on their groomed biking trails. 

Conveniently located in Bellaire, just 31 miles Northeast of Traverse City, the 5,000-acre Shanty Creek Resort offers a variety of winter experiences for the entire family. The three distinct villages within the resort–Summit, Schuss, and Cedar River–offer everything from downhill to cross country skiing, multiple terrain parks, a multi-lane alpine tubing park, dog sledding, and more, something to please every skill level and thrill seeker. With more than 160” snowfall annually, snow-lovers love Shanty Creek. Mark your calendar for the Shanty Creek Original Sardine Special on January 20th. Pack as many friends, family members, neighbors, and anyone else you can find into your car and head to Shanty Creek’s Schuss Mountain. Everyone in your vehicle skis or rides for just $69 for the entire carload. It’s the best value on the slopes! Can’t make it on the 20th? Bring your friends and family to Super Sundays! The Super Sundays program takes place noon-4:00 pm and includes a lift ticket, rental equipment, and how-to learning stations for just $33. Please note the Super Sundays offer is not available January 19th or February 16th.

Visit one of Michigan’s first natural conservancies, Grass River Natural Area in Bellaire, for a romp through the freshly fallen snow. Their snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails offer the best cure for cabin fever around.

Head to Treetops Resort in Gaylord this winter and enjoy a variety of ski vacations and special events like Wilderness Sleigh Ride Dinners, Skiable Feasts, or the annual Wine & Beer Fest in February.

 Experience the breathtaking beauty and solitude of winter while floating beneath a canopy of cedars and pines covered with freshly fallen snow in an icy river raft ride with Big Bear Adventures in Indian River. Add cross-country skiing or snowshoeing to make a unique winter adventure!  

Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville has a number of winter events to get you out enjoying the snow covered hills. 

  • January is National Learn to Ski & Snowboard Month. The professional snowsports instructors at Crystal Mountain teach the essentials of skiing and snowboarding for beginners (ages 7 and up) with incredible deals on lessons, rentals, and lift tickets during the month of January. The best deal for Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month is the Beginners Passport, which includes three one-hour lesson lift ticket, rental, and beginner lesson for just $99. Complete all three lessons by January 31, 2020 and receive a discounted 2019/20 Premier Season Pass for just $99, plus a $100 coupon to use toward a 2020/21 Season Pass or additional lessons.
  • Winter Trails Day, January 11th, offers children and adults new to snow sports the chance to try snowshoeing and cross country skiing for free, and to discover the great fitness and social benefits with these easy-to-learn winter sports.
  • Fat Chance Fat Tire Bike Race, January 19th: Fat Chance is the staple of fat biking in Northern Michigan, and is back again for another legendary race at Crystal Mountain with new and familiar faces. With races ranging from 45 to 90 minutes, the Fat Chance Fat Tire Bike Race is friendly for beginners but also challenging enough for experienced riders. The Fat Chance Fat Tire Bike Race is sponsored by Thompsonville’s Iron Fish Distillery.
  • Crystal Mountain will host the Liberty Mutual Insurance NASTAR Midwest Championships on February 29 – March 1st. The winners will be awarded prize money for the first time in NASTAR regional championships history! The two-day event will see the fastest racers in each age, gender, and ability group from Saturday’s qualifying races advance to the Race of Champions on Sunday. The Liberty Mutual Insurance NASTAR Midwest Regional Championships are open to all recreational racers and no qualification is required. Event includes celebrity pacesetter, Andrew Weibrecht, live music, parties, and fun racing! Registration is now open

The Petoskey Area in northwest Lower Michigan is a veritable winter wonderland. From skiing and boarding for every ability at Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands resorts, to snowmobiling on awesome trails in Boyne Falls, Petoskey, and Harbor Springs, winter enthusiasts know this is the place for cool vibes and good times. Beautiful cross country skiing and fat-bike trails, outdoor ice rinks, and sledding round out an unparalleled winter experience.

Hotel Walloon in Walloon Lake offers the perfect winter getaway for the active winter sport guest or for those who want to cozy up in the Hearth Room and enjoy a crafted beverage from the exclusive hotel bar. Hotel Walloon is currently offering snow skiing guests 10% off of their stay when they present a valid ski pass. Enjoy seasonal rates starting at $100 for a winter getaway. When you stay at Hotel Walloon, you can also receive complimentary ice skates for the Village ice rink and complimentary snowshoes for trails around the hotel.

Manistee County is primed and ready for winter visitors, boasting more than 20 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails, over 30 miles of groomed fat tire biking trails, 80 lakes and four rivers for winter fishing and paddling, access to 500 miles of snowmobile trails, and two neighboring downhill ski resorts. Check out the Winter Trails Guide for top winter photo spots, winter nightlife, trails, lodging and dining lists, and a trail map of the regional snowmobile trail network.

 

Experience adventure by choice or by chance in the Mt. Pleasant area this winter. With more than 1,000 acres of parkland and 18 area preserves, the Mt. Pleasant area is filled with opportunities to enjoy the snow. Winter recreation includes snowshoe trails, cross-country skiing, sledding, winter disc golfing, snowboarding, and more. For more, check out the guide to winter fun in the Mt. Pleasant area.

Snow sports and activities are endless in Mecosta County. You’ll find sleigh rides through the woods, roaring bonfires, ice rinks, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross country ski trails, and ice fishing on the many hundreds of lakes found throughout Mecosta County. Find where you want to go by visiting the Things to Do tab on the Mecosta County website.

Join Cran-Hill Ranch in Rodney on February 16th for their 2019 Winterfest! This is a free community event from 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm where families and kids can enjoy a day full of winter fun. Activities to be held during Winterfest include all three tubing hills open for play, the toddler sledding hill, ice climbing, broomball, snowshoeing, ice skating, pony rides, petting farm, tractor drawn wagon rides, and a bon-fire with s’more making to finish off the wonderful day. 

If you’re looking for a new way to exercise and a great way to explore the outdoors, head to Ludington, where you will find amazing trails for snowshoeing, fat-tire biking, and cross-country skiing, as well as ice-skating fun. If you need some snowshoe inspiration, the team at Pure Ludington have compiled a list of five reasons Ludington is an ideal snowshoe destination. Fat tire mountain bikes allow riders to float through conditions that would be impossible with a conventional tire. This trend toward wider tires creates a new and exhilarating way to take in Michigan’s winter wonderland. Several trail systems in the Ludington area are grooming trails for winter riding. Take in the beauty of snow-kissed trees, Lake Michigan sand dunes, and nearby waterways as you ski your way through the Ludington State Park. The park offers miles of cross-country trails for your enjoyment of the winter season. Strap on skates and glide around a 30’x56’ synthetic surface skating rink in the heart of Downtown Ludington, free of charge, seven days a week, at the James Street Plaza. 

Head to the Ludington State Park for Lantern-Lit Skiing/Snowshoeing along the lighted, groomed trail through the park January 4th & 18th, and February 1st & 15th, 6:00 pm-8:00 pm. The lighted trail begins at the warming shelter and follows lanterns along the trail to a campfire for a warm-up and hot beverage. The park has 40 pairs of snowshoes to loan free on a first-come, first-served basis for visitors 10 years old to adult. Or take a Guided Snowshoe Walk, Saturdays, January 4th-February 15th at 2:00 pm. This 1.5-hour guided hike highlights the park’s nature and history through snow-covered sand dunes. Staff will be on hand to help novice trekkers. Reservations are not required, however a Michigan Recreation Passport is required for park entry. 

Enjoy “Learn to Luge Weekends” Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays through March 8th at the Muskegon Luge & Adventure Sports Park inside Muskegon State Park. One of only four luge tracks in the United States, the track was designed by three-time Olympian Frank Masley and consists of six curves and speeds around 30 mph. Equipment and instruction are included. You’ll also find cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, and sledding are available on 5 miles of groomed track, day or night. Don’t have your own equipment? Skis, snowshoes, ice skates, and sleds are available for rent. 

Mark your calendar for the 2020 Muskegon Polar Plunge at Fricano’s Muskegon Lake on January 25th to benefit Special Olympics Michigan. Registration takes place from 12:00 pm– 2:00 pm. Participants will be bused down to Hartshorn Marina to Plunge from 2:00 pm–4:00 pm and bused back to the Event Center for the Awards and After Splash Bash immediately following. 

Skiers of all ages are invited for a fun day on the slopes at Cannonsburg Ski Area in Belmont. Cannonsburg features 9 lifts and 21 runs from beginner to advanced, including three chair lifts, four rope tows, and two Magic Carpets, as well as private or group lessons for skiers and snowboarders of all ages.

Explore the winter beauty of nature with a snowshoe hike, take your little ones on guided or self-guided outdoor adventures, go on an owl prowl, and enjoy more winter fun at Blandford Nature Center in Grand Rapids.

Whatever your outdoor adventures include, Bill & Paul’s Sporthaus in Grand Rapids is your stop for equipment and clothing needs. They also offer a variety of lessons and special events for those looking to learn a new sport or improve their skills in the hills. 

Outdoor enthusiasts will find miles of winding trails perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing in the Holland area, as well as fat-tire biking, sledding hills, and even some guided tour opportunities and concessions to help you warm up after a day of snowy fun. 

 

Grab your cross-country skis and enjoy a peaceful glide through Pierce Cedar Creek Institute in Hastings. 

The Historic Charlton Park Village, Museum, and Recreation Area in Hastings is located on a 300-acre county park with extensive trails for cross-country skiing. 

Echo Valley in Kalamazoo is a great place for families and groups seeking snowy day entertainment. Their experienced staff goes all out to make sure you have an enjoyable, memory-filled experience on all of their tubing and tobogganing hills. Warm yourself by the circular fireplace while watching the tubers and tobogganers or enjoy the view from the deck. There are no height or age restrictions for any Echo Valley attractions.

Celebrate snow and mustaches at Festivus: The Cardboard Sled Race in Battle Creek. Every year, the Battle Creek Metropolitan Area Moustache Society gives out prizes for the best sleds. Only rule is the sleds have to be made from cardboard and tape. All ages are invited to participate–facial hair not required. Watch the race and warm up in the vendor tent with food and drink. The event takes place at Leila Arboretum on Saturday, February 8th, with 1:00 pm registration and 2:00 pm race. And don’t worry about Michigan’s fickle weather– if there is a warm spell, snow will be trucked in for the sledding hill. 

Sarett Nature Center in Benton Harbor offers five miles of groomed trails for cross-country skiing and designated trails for snowshoeing. Beginners and families can rent equipment and enjoy the mostly flat terrain of Sarett’s forest, prairie, and wetland habitats. After your winter experience, enjoy hot cocoa and a fire in the rustic lodge room in the nature center building. Bring your own skis or snowshoes to enjoy the trails or rent from Sarett for a low cost.

Celebrate the winter season at Ice Fest in downtown Coldwater, Saturday, January 25th. Activities kick off at 10:00 am and continue throughout the day. Dozens of ice carvings will once again line the sidewalks of downtown Coldwater. Watch live ice carvings, enjoy a chili cook-off and pub crawl, and top the day off with a live band at Tibbits Opera House. 

With more than 100 lakes, including two chains of lakes, Coldwater Country offers countless opportunities for anglers. The frozen-over lakes offer an opportunity to get outside and breathe in the cold, clean air. Spend an afternoon outdoors with friends and family in the quest to catch fish or join in the festivities and contests at the Quincy Tip-Up Festival. This February weekend of family fun offers everything from fishing contests to snowmobile races, wood cutting contests, and a corn-hole tournament. Need an incentive to drop a line this winter? Try it as part of the Free Fishing Weekend, February 15th-16th. This annual weekend provides two days where no fishing license is required for residents or non-residents, although all fishing regulations still apply.

Check out our Snow Sports and  Outdoor Recreation ideas to plan your winter adventures.