By Christina VanGinkel
Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a winter wonderland for those looking for a vacation spot to enjoy snow activities. Opportunities abound for skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, and downhill and cross country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, and any other snow related activity you can think of. While modern day amenities abound in the many small towns scattered across what is affectionately known as the UP, so are there many glimpses into the past for those looking for a quiet escape.
The ski resorts are advanced enough to provide the skiers and snowboarders challenging trails on quality-groomed runs, yet are quaint enough to not feel as if you have to fight the crowds as you do at many of the larger ski resorts out west. Some top ski resorts to check out include:
Norway Mountain, Norway Michigan (My son’s favorite hill, as they have the best terrain park in his opinion, and listen to what the snowboarders using it have to say!)
Pine Mountain, Iron Mountain Michigan (Home to one of the largest artificial man made ski jumps in the world, which hosts a major competition, the Continental Ski Jumping Tournament, every year which draws ski jumpers from all over the world!)
Indianhead Resort, Wakefield Michigan
Big Powderhorn Mountain, Bessemer Michigan
Blackjack Ski Resort, also in Bessemer Michigan
Ski Brule, Iron River Michigan
All offer a wide variety of runs, terrain parks, pipes, cross-country trails, dining, and all around good winter fun!
If snowmobiling is more your idea of fun, there is hardly a hotel in the UP that does not offer trail guides, along with information on where to rent equipment, if you come without your own. Many hotels even offer direct access to the trails, so after arriving and getting your gear stowed, you will not have to get back into your vehicle until it is time to head back home. If watching snowmobiles race is more your thing, be sure to check out the annual International 500 Snowmobile Race, in Sault Ste Marie, or one of several other races that are run across the area throughout the winter months.
Ice fishing and tournaments are a time-honored tradition among Yoopers and long time visitors to this area. Be sure to check with the DNR as to ice conditions before heading out though, no matter the time of year, but as long as the ice conditions are good, be prepared to catch your daily limit on nearly any lake you fish. Many resorts cater to ice fishers, and will not only welcome you, but also provide you with everything from bait, to an ice shack, and even cleaning services for your catch.
Dog sledding is also making a strong comeback in the area in recent years, and if you would like to see what this sport is all about without heading all the way north to Alaska, be sure to check out the U.P. 200 and Midnight Run. It offers a unique look at this centuries old sport and is sure to be a big hit with the young and old alike.
If you are looking for a spot to escape to this winter, be sure to check out what is considered by many to be the Midwest’s best kept secret when it comes to winter wonderlands!