It took awhile to get there, but welcome to fall. With many regions across the state seeing sub-freezing temperatures, heavier frost and even accumulating snow amounts we can’t help but get geared up for the season. It’s time to knock the dust of your gear and get ready because the resorts have not sat idle all summer long. Improvements and changes have been happening at Michigan ski areas, with the most common changes being increased snowmaking capacity and efficiency that allows resorts to open faster and produce better snow, to amenity upgrades and skier/rider services.
The crew at Caberfae Peaks outside of Cadillac just gave the Mackenzie Lodge a completely different look with the addition of new balconies on hotel rooms and more timber trusses to round out the feel of the entire lodge. Continued improvements to snowmaking capacity can be seen atop North Peak with a much larger 6″ delivery pipe. More volume, less friction, more efficient snow production at the top. A slew of SMI Super Polecats have been added to their arsenal as well. Don’t forget the season pass sale at Caberfae.
Crystal Mountain broke ground on their latest lodging venture last year and put the wraps on its 31,200 square-foot Inn at the Mountain, an $11 million expansion that ads 25 new suites to help with lodging demands. These suites are unlike others on the property, perhaps a bit more swankier (yes we said swankier) than you have come to know of Crystal’s accommodations. The new facility includes a rooftop bar area with a pretty solid view overlooking the main Crystal Clipper and Loki runs. In addition to the bar, visitors can check out the Mountain Market and Bru Bar on the main level for grab-and-go options, staple food items from Michigan-based brands and coffee at Bru Bar.
Fans of the famed Waffle Cabin that can be found at Boyne Mountain will be able to indulge on-site at Crystal this winter as well. There will be a Waffle Cabin serving up fresh waffles and coffee daily near the Mountain Adventure Zone. Crystal also joins the ranks of resorts in Michigan who have gotten behind the Burton Learn-to-Ride program with an increased inventory of boots and snowboards that encourage new riders to get into the sport. Expanded terrain will be had in the form of terrain parks. This possibly is a known area that Crystal has lacked in previous seasons and it appears as if they’re doing something about it. Tuck’s Terrain Park and Little Vincent are swapping spots. All the features in Tuck’s are moving over to Little Vincent, with Tuck’s turning into more skills-oriented run with banks, rollers and moguls. No solid talk of a jump line yet.
Up in Bellaire, Shanty Creek Resorts rolls out the red carpet celebrating 50 years. Their first chair was December18, 1967. Shanty also is in the long list of areas adding to their snowmaking equipment. More snow guns, bigger pumps and a new cold water source that brings major improvements to their snowmaking infrastructure. Plus a brand new Prinoth Bison X. Off the Red Lift, visitors who want to duck into the trees will be pleased to find a new gladed run, Sally’s Alley. For the nordic skiers and snowshoers, they have created a new up/down trail that goes around Schuss.
Boyne Resorts are coming into the season with a fully improved snowmaking system with what is being dubbed as the most energy efficient marginal temperature snowmaking system in the world. Boyne’s famed Low-E fan guns drop energy usage by over 50% while pumping out a serious amount of snow. Boyne states the energy saved “would be equivalent of powering 30,000 100-watt lightbulbs.” For the snow geek in all of us, Boyne has been testing a new nozzle design for the past two seasons, and the results are so positive its rolled the new design out across 460+ snowguns.
For the first time ever, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands patrons can have their own pass to their favorite resort. In years past, guests have purchased a season pass that covered both Mountain and Highlands, at no doubt a potential premium cost to some. This move certainly brings the season pass down in a more manageable range for many who might only want to ski/ride at one resort.
In addition to the snowmaking capacity being increased, equipment updates in the form of a new PistenBully 400 Park Pro for solid shaping of Boyne Mountain’s park scene. Park riders will get the benefit of night riding with the Ramshead Park going under the lights this season.
The once exclusive and private ski area, Otsego Club, is going wide open to the public this season. A great announcement to many in the snowsports community. We had an opportunity to check out the property back in 2009/2010 after their huge improvements from the Osprey Group. The terrain there is solid and certainly a hidden gem for those exploring the Gaylord region or even nearby Treetops Resort. Details to follow on their public opening, amenities and features for the 2017/2018 season.
Rounding out activity in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula the team at Mount Bohemia and Voodoo Mountain have been active all summer long with improvements. A new cabana located next to the massive outdoor hot tub has been built and will be serving up wood fired pizzas all winter long. Three new runs have also been added as terrain expansion continues at Boho’s Middle Earth section. Of course the famed Mount Bohemia Season Pass Sale is on now until December 2nd.
With snowmaking in full effect as of this writing, this season should not disappoint. Get out and enjoy what Michigan’s winter months have to offer.