[Updated for the 2021/2022 Ski Season]
To say it’s been a year (and a half) is an understatement for many. Amidst the continuation of the COVID-19 pandemic that impacts everyone globally, it was nice to have some normalcy last season and get out and enjoy the beauty that is Michigan winters. The reality is, much of our outdoor recreation here in the state can be done safely. Downhill skiing, snowboarding and XC skiing are all great ways to get outdoors (safely) with friends and family. Restrictions in the state of Michigan are pretty limited, especially for outdoor activities, we do recommend following MDHHS guidelines for COVID-19.
Know Before You Go
Buy Your Lift Tickets in Advance
While restrictions are pretty limited for the 2021/2022 ski season here in Michigan, and changes that were brought on last year continue to evolve, one thing hasn’t changed and that’s buying lift tickets in advance. If not for the pandemic-sake, but for staff shortages. Workers at ski resorts and seasonal jobs are in high-demand, and we anticipate this to be a major bottleneck for snowsports enthusiasts this year. Skip the lines and buy your tickets in advance or stop by a kiosk at your favorite ski area. We anticipate ski areas could favor season pass holders on select dates, especially weekends again, and changes to their rules could happen on the fly. We’re working diligently to make sure all of our resources are updated so you can buy your lift tickets in advance, online, and be prepared to hit the slops with ease this season.
2022: Become a Midweek Skier
In addition to advanced purchasing, Michiganders are going to need to rethink the typical days they hit the slopes. Skiing by nature involves a lot of acreage and plenty of room for social distancing, but that doesn’t mean ski hills are immune to congestion. Even non-holiday weekends this season could be more packed than usual. The solution? Be a Midweek Midwesterner instead of a weekend warrior! Ski areas generally have lighter crowds on Mondays through Thursdays, mountain conditions can be less skied out (think untouched corduroy), and most importantly you’ll be able to spread out in peace.
If you’re one of those skiers who is in it for the 2 hour slope sprint and 5 hour lodge marathon, who are we to judge! But out of necessity, resorts will be making adjustments to traditional food, beverage, and lodge access this season. Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek will offer a new carry-out window at Ivan’s Cafe, along with a heated tent for outdoor grab-and-go eats. They will also have a new food truck at the base of the hill. At Boyne Mountain, five full-menu dining igloos will be available for seating groups of up to 10 people.
Changes & Updates for the 2021/2022 Season
Are Masks Required at Michigan Ski Resorts?
While masks are no longer required for skiing in Michigan, it is recommended. Per MDHHS, face masks are advised through the holidays due to a rise in cases of flu and COVID-19. Masks are not a known requirement for outdoor activities such as base areas at ski resorts, it is recommended by many health professionals. Indoor operations might be the exception and each resort will have different protocols they follow. We do note for the 2021/2022 season, that many of the ski areas throughout the state of Michigan are highly recommending that masks be worn inside their facilities. Plan accordingly.
For those of you who got use to facial coverings outdoors last year, you’re already prepared. Masks help keep your face from freezing, but also can help ward off germs and airborne viruses such as the pesky COVID-19. Again, plan ahead, be prepared and enjoy your time.
Are There Capacity Restrictions at Michigan Ski Areas?
While protocols will certainly change some from one resort to the next, we do not anticipate any capacity restrictions for the 2021/2022 ski season in Michigan. Health professionals and resort management will still likely recommend you stay with your group, we certainly don’t see anyone policing this either. Use your own best judgement, exercise caution, and be kind to your fellow patrons of snow. Top ski resorts in Michigan are updating their Winter Operations guides in accordance with local health officials and what they deem to be safe. Again, our recommendation is to stick with your group when possible, and be courteous to others around you.
Lift Riding Tips during a Pandemic
Keep in mind that while each resort will operate under its own guidelines, we do expect some normalcy to your lift riding experience. Nobody is going to ask you to hike the hill, but how can you be a better lift rider during these times? As mentioned above, most will recommend you stick with your group. If two singles who do not know each other are willing to ride together, there’s nothing wrong with sliding to the opposite sides of the chair from one another. Who wants to sit on their neighbor’s lap anyways?
Ski Well, Be Well
The National Ski Areas Association says it best for the 2021/2022 season: “We are explorers. We are first-timers. We are powder chasers.” If anything, this season will continue to be a blessing by motivating more skiers to take advantage of Michigan’s many winter wonderlands; just as many discovered camping, public trails, and parks for the first time throughout our state this summer. Above all, we can continue to pursue and nurture our winter passions if we “Ski Well, Be Well”—meaning follow resort guidelines, use common sense, and gear up for the occasion.
So grab your gaiters and come along for the ride with Michigan Ski Report: your trusted source for current COVID protocol and the state of skiing in Michigan!
P.S. We promise not to use the cringey phrases “new normal,” “trying times,” or “maskne” (mask acne). Okay, maybe “maskne” once or twice…