From hitting the snowy slopes, to warming up by the fire with friends, local skiers share their perfect day (and night) at four Northern Michigan ski resorts.
To keep staff and guests safe, masks are required indoors, in lift lines and while riding chairlifts, and visitors must maintain 6 feet of distance between other groups/pods. Please check online before visiting for current COVID-19 safety precautions at each resort.
Treetops Resort // Gaylord
Text and photos by Ashley Johnson
My friends and I plan trips to Treetops every year, but this time it was just for the girls! We started our excursion by renting cross-country skis. The staff was so helpful in getting everyone fitted and ready for the trails. Once we were all geared up, we took off. It was a gorgeous day and the sun was shining, taking the edge off the chill from the wind. The more we skied, the more we warmed up. The hilly landscape kept us moving and provided us with beautiful scenery that we won’t soon forget. The trails had signage throughout that kept us on the right track and led us back to the lodge, where we ended up hanging out by the bonfire to warm up a bit. (Nothing like a few snacks and refreshments after a long day of skiing!)
The staff at Treetops was beyond accommodating, and although we didn’t have time to enjoy it, there is an awesome pool and hot tub, which would have been a perfect way to end our unique experience. It was really great getting the girls together for a fun-filled day—we can’t wait to do it all again next year!
Crystal Mountain // Thompsonville
Text and Photos by Kara Jarvis
Although we hadn’t been skiing since I was a junior in high school and my brother was in 8th grade, we volunteered to take a group of our younger brothers’ middle school friends to Crystal Mountain for an evening of nighttime skiing. Our hesitation to hit the slopes after nearly a decade without strapping on skis was eased by some of our favorite wintertime memories growing up in Northern Michigan: Crystal Mountain every Friday after school. In no time and with little convincing needed, we were on our way to Thompsonville!
When we arrived, the nostalgic smell of hot chocolate and fresh snow paired with the buzz of the chairlift fueled our adrenaline. We rented our skis, gave each other a pep talk and, admittedly, hit the bunny hill for one run to reacclimatize. Our first trip up the chairlift re-introduced me to the beauty of the grounds at Crystal Mountain. A fresh blanket of white snow dotted with twinkly white lights across the picturesque village and families skiing together made for a storybook view. My brother and I compromised on which hills we would hit first and found ourselves exploring each of the chairlifts along with the new runs (and views!) each of them led us to. We ended the night with hot chocolate and local brews at the Vista Lounge, where we found one of our favorite local artists, Drew Hale, serenading an audience dressed in sweaters, ski boots and snow pants. On our drive home to Traverse City, we all agreed: Let’s not allow another decade to pass before our next Friday night ski trip.
Mount Bohemia // Mohawk, Keweenaw Peninsula
Text and Photos by Lexie Cerk
Four hundred miles north of Traverse City you’ll find the home of some of the longest runs and deepest powder in the Midwest. After hearing about Mount Bohemia for years—and eyeing the new pair of skis I received for Christmas—this was the year my husband and I finally made the trek north to the Upper Peninsula.
We snowshoed a mile to a remote cabin not far from Mount Bohemia, pulling our gear by sled. Our home away from home was a 30-minute hike in, completely off-grid, with a wood stove and sauna to keep us warm in the single-digit weather.
After an hour of getting the cabin organized, we once again geared up and ventured out, trading the now-comfortable cabin temperatures for a day on the slopes. Riding the chairlift at Mount Bohemia was incredible, with Lake Superior coming into view the higher up we went. The runs that maneuvered through the woods on backcountry trails were my favorite part, not just for their names—Mordor, Gandalf, The Shire (shoutout to my fellow “Lord of the Rings” fans). As if the day were not perfect enough, we ended it with a cup of hot chocolate and a soak in the Nordic Spa—the largest outdoor hot tub in the U.P.
Mount Bohemia’s “no beginners allowed” slogan is not to be taken lightly. Trails are primarily black and double black diamond, but if you are equipped, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are already planning our trip back!
The Homestead // Glen Arbor
Text and Photos by Claire Houser
The Homestead is an awesome place to ski for the day. Aside from the beautiful northwest drive from Traverse City to Glen Arbor, the top of the resort offers a gorgeous view of Lake Michigan that you just can’t beat. We drove out on a warm, sunny day at the end of the season, hoping to get a little more time on the slopes, and ended up having more than a great time enjoying all that the resort had to offer.
The sun was shining full force, and upon our arrival, there was no denying that everyone was stoked. The snow had begun to turn into slush from the rising temperature and sunny day, but it didn’t stop us from having a blast. It was the kind of day when you decide to hang up your winter jacket and spend the rest of the day on the hill in a T-shirt. After hours of skiing, working up an appetite, we stopped by Whiskers, a resort eatery. The food was amazing, and we even got the chance to meet the head chef. Whiskers serves traditional bites as well as gluten-free options, perfect for our group. Not only was the menu on point, but the full bar wasn’t too shabby either. It was a fantastic way to end the ski season, and we all went home tired but with memories of a day that would get us through to the next snowy season!
Find this article and more in the January 2021 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine; or subscribe and get Traverse delivered to your door each month.