Ski areas across Michigan are always looking for ways to increase enjoyment for skiers and snowboarders. Through the years, slope maintenance and snowmaking capabilities have improved dramatically, so much so that even if there is no snow at home, the ski slopes can be covered when the weather turns cold.
Nearly all ski areas made improvements over the summer to their snowmaking and snow grooming equipment. The following is a rundown of improvements and special offers for the 2011-2012 season. It is important to note that early discounts abound. Most ski areas offer discounts on their season ski passes if they are purchased before the snow flies. For more information, visit goskimichigan.com, which has quick links to Michigan ski area websites.
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula slopes are busy getting ready for winter. The largest ski area construction project in the Midwest is underway at Big Powderhorn in Bessemer. A fire destroyed the main lodge building on January 13, 2011, but a brand new lodge is scheduled to open for this winter season. 1-800-501-SNOW (7669) bigpowderhorn.net
A few miles away at The New Blackjack Resort, also in Bessemer, discounts abound. This season kids 12 and under ski free with a paying adult. Show a valid military or college ID and your lift ticket is $30 anytime. In addition, the first two weeks in January are College Days, where lift tickets are $20 and rental equipment is just $15. For those who can ski midweek, a five-day midweek ticket is $75 after January 1, 2012. Blackjack has also added two new glade runs (skiing in the trees). One is their first double black diamond (expert) run and the other is less steep, a favorite for kids. Blackjack also added new features to their terrain parks. (906)229-5115, skiblackjack.com
New this season at Pine Mountain in Iron Mountain is a Resort Rewards Program, allowing customers to accumulate points for every dollar they spend at one of the Resort facilities. It’s free to sign up. (906) 774-2747 or 1-877-553-PINE, pinemountainresort.com
Heading over to Ironwood, Mt. Zion offers free skiing to all Gogebic Community College students and to anyone 62 years and older! Located on the campus of Gogebic Community College, Mt. Zion is the oldest winter recreation complex in “Big Snow Country”. Owned and operated by GCC, Mt. Zion is open to the public and also serves as a laboratory for the college’s nationally recognized Ski Area Management Program. (906) 932-4231, gogebic.edu/aboutGCC/mtzion.shtm
For those who like a challenge and a great discount, on December 3, 2011, for one day only, season passes for Mount Bohemia in the Keweenaw Peninsula are just $99. Or, for variety, ski all season long at Mount Bohemia and Porcupine Mountain for just $124. Passes can be purchased online, by phone or in person on December 3 at either Porcupine Mountain or Mount Bohemia. Skiers at Mount Bohemia will be pleasantly surprised with the addition of five new glade runs, which are spread throughout the mountain. Porcupine Mountain: (906) 289-4105, skitheporkies.com; Mount Bohemia: (231) 420-5405, mtbohemia.com
The folks at Marquette Mountain in Marquette, have been very busy over the summer, moving terrain on the slopes. They have widened Weasel Gulch, Whoop Dee, Upper Rocket and Shaker, added a new Women’s FIS Slalom ramp on Cliffs Ridge, created a new terrain park layout with 10 new rails, cut through from Twilight Zone to Supreme Trails, and increased snowmaking capacity. In addition, Marquette Mountain is extending their lift hours until 8:30 p.m. nightly, from December 19 through March 11. (906) 225-1155 or 1-800-944-SNOW, marquettemountain.com