It’s no surprise that snowboarding is a popular sport in the Upper Peninsula — after all, the upper part of Michigan gets some of the best snow conditions each winter, with over 200 inches of fresh powder reported in certain areas.
In fact, snowboarding was first developed in Muskegon, Michigan (only six hours south of the U.P.) in 1965, by an engineer named Sherman Poppen. He reportedly invented the first prototype of a snowboard called a “snurfer,” which was just two snow skis bolted together with a rope attached for steering so his daughters could try their hand at the newfound sport.
But the sport wasn’t immediately accepted by those within the skiing community. Even up until the 1980s, many ski resorts banned snowboarding on their public runs, and snowboarding enthusiasts were forced to stealthily climb these mountains on foot at night or find an area in the backcountry to explore.
And yet, by the mid-1990s snowboarding was quickly becoming the fastest growing winter sport on earth, with more than six million people of all ages trying their hand at riding goofy or regular. Today, snowboarding has more participation than both skiing and cross-country skiing across all generations.
If you’re looking for a new challenge, there’s no better place to bring your board than Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Here are some of the best U.P.-based winter resorts to add to your boarding bucket list.
Pine Mountain Ski & Golf Resort | Iron Mountain
As one of the few ski-in/ski-out lodging resorts in the Upper Peninsula, Pine Mountain Resort is home to 35 open runs across 220 acres of magnificently well-groomed trails that are ready for snowboarders of all ages and skill levels. Since its conception in 1939 by Fred Pabst of the Pabst Brewing Company, the Pine Mountain Resort has become the first in the region to possess 100% snow-making ability, extremely well-groomed runs and aerial lifts.
The four-star, all-season destination also recently completed a multi-million dollar renovation project on all lodging and resort facilities, so whether you’re looking for a family-friendly vacation getaway or an opportunity to spend quality time on the slopes with friends, you’ll find it here.
Not sure you’re ready to venture out on the trails alone just yet? Don’t worry — just schedule a private, semi-private or group snowboarding lesson with Pine Mountain’s PSIA professional, certified instructors on staff.
Check out the snow report for the most up-to-date information on current run conditions.
Mt. Zion Ski Hill | Ironwood
The Mt. Zion Recreational Complex isn’t just unique because it’s the oldest winter recreation complex in the area — it’s particularly interesting because it sits right on the Gogebic Community College’s campus! That means GCC students (and those over the age of 62) are able to ski or snowboard for free, but Mt. Zion is also well-known for its reasonable rates for all.
The public ski hill offers 10 slopes and trails with a 300-foot vertical and power-tilled slope, a snow tubing park, downhill and snowboard racing programs for children and convenient ski and snowboard rentals. It also serves the college’s nationally recognized Ski Area Management program.
Find out real-time snow conditions via the Mt. Zion webcam during the season.
Marquette Mountain Resort | Marquette
Located just a few minutes from the downtown area of the U.P.'s largest city, Marquette Mountain Resort is the lucky recipient of lake effect snow from nearby Lake Superior. You can expect this mountain to get an annual average of 150 to 210 inches of fresh powder depending on the year!
Marquette Mountain has a summit elevation of 1,275 feet with a 500-foot vertical drop (don’t worry — there are three chairlifts and a surface lift available), and is spread across 330 total acres. With 29 ski trails and eight glades, the mountain’s longest run goes on for a leisurely 1.25 miles!
Whether you’re looking to go for a day or for an entire season, the resort offers a variety of amenities such as ski and snowboard rentals, group and private lessons and some jaw-dropping views of Lake Superior.
Check out their live snow and winter trail report for closures or special announcements.
Mont Ripley Ski Area | Hancock
Looking for a true alpine town experience? Mont Ripley boasts the oldest ski area in Michigan while simultaneously being located in the snowiest city in the Midwest region, making it the perfect place to make your ultimate snowboarding dreams come true.
Owned by and located just a mile from Michigan Technological University’s campus, this park supplies a 440-foot vertical drop across 112 acres paired with a stunning, scenic overlook of the Keweenaw Waterway. Curious about what that actually looks like? Thanks to Trail Genius, you can get a quick peek at what to expect out on the trails.
Known for its challenging terrain, this hidden gem offers a little something for everyone — night skiing, glade runs, tubing, powder bowl, and more. Plus, Mont Ripley is also home to the U.P.’s biggest terrain park, with a variety of big air jumps and challenging slides for the daredevils of the world!
Check out their website for more information on current snow and trail conditions.
Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort | Bessemer
If you’re looking for a variety of trail options for your next snowboarding excursion, Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort is the perfect solution. Its 45 different trail runs stretch across 253 snow-filled acres, with nine double chairlifts conveniently dotted all across the resort. And if you’re looking to try something different, there are two unique terrain parks at your disposal.
Plus, you can rent a ski-in, ski-out (or snowboard-in, snowboard-out) on-hill day-use cabins charmingly referred to as “Wine Huts”. These private trailside cabins come fully equipped with a wood stove or fireplace, grill and large outdoor wraparound deck that’s perfect for grabbing a snack or drink with friends while enjoying the slopes.
Be sure to check on the area’s current trail conditions and weather forecast to ensure there’s that precious lake effect snow on the ground before planning your trip.
SnowRiver Mountain Resort | Bessemer/Wakefield
SnowRiver Mountain Resort offers double the fun, with two different base areas all for the price of just one ticket. The Jackson Creek Summit area is where you’ll find the resort’s lodging facilities, while the nearby Black River Basin has one huge lodge and direct access to all of the slopes your heart may desire. That means 56 trails spread over 400 acres, with a vertical drop of 638 feet and a top elevation of 1,935 feet!
Plus, SnowRiver Mountain resort is also home to eight tree-terrain runs, three terrain parks and five different mogul runs. Thanks to Mother Nature’s work combined with that lovely lake effect snow off of nearby Lake Superior, the area gets upwards of 17 feet of snow every season, so there’s never a bad time to plan your trip once winter hits.
Ready to head north? Be sure to look at SnowRiver’s latest snow report to find out what trails are ready to cruise.
“The Porkies” Winter Sports Complex | Ontonagon
If your group varies in skill level, the Porcupine Mountains Ski Area is the perfect destination for you. With 20 total downhill runs, you’ll find three beginner, eight intermediate and nine expert runs just inside the entrance to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. .
Glades cut between each run, so there’s plenty of untouched powder to explore on the way down the mountain. It’s got a whopping 670-foot vertical and more than 250 snowboardable acres in the area. The Porkies are also home to a natural terrain park, with huge boulders, small to medium cliffs and tree trunk rails all ready to jump and grind.
Check in with the snow totals and weather updates as you begin to plan your visit.
Ski Brule | Iron River
If you want to know what it takes to win a gold medal for snowboarding in the Winter Olympics, why not check out Nick Baumgartner’s hometown hill? Ski Brule is 150 acres of terrain spread across a 3,000 acre span, leaving plenty of room for 17 runs, 11 chair and tow lifts, three terrain parks and a snow tubing area.
Described as being “artfully designed to provide diversity,” Ski Brule promises uncrowded slopes and luxurious lodging options at an affordable rate. It’s also one of the only snow resorts to stay open late into the spring — its record is remaining open until May 15!
Find out the snow conditions and happenings around Ski Brule via their updated snow report.
Mount Bohemia Resort | Lac La Belle
Known for having the highest vertical (900 feet!), deepest snow, longest runs across 585 acres and the most expert terrain throughout the Midwest, Mount Bohemia Ski Resort is one of the best kept secrets for avid backcountry skiers and snowboarders. It's been rated as one of the best places to snowboard in the U.S., not just one of the best Michigan snowboarding resorts!
Mount Bohemia is famous for its steep slopes, cliff bands, exposed rock formations, off-piste terrain and a variety of snow conditions. But that also means that this terrain only calls for advanced riders who don’t mind wearing a helmet. After all, the entire mountain is ungroomed and offers only a variety of double or triple black diamond trails.
If you need a little R&R after riding down the mountain, check out the Nordic Spa’s outdoor pool, Finnish sauna and massive hot tub.
It’s also Voodoo Mountain’s inaugural season, the latest addition to Mount Bohemia just south of Copper Harbor. In its first year, this mountain already boasts a vertical drop of 700 feet and 100 acres of open and tree-filled runs that are only accessible via Snowcat. When it is fully built, Voodoo Mountain will stretch almost 2.5 miles wide, with four peaks on two sides of the mountain and more than 1,400 acres of intermediate skiable terrain.
Don’t forget to see what fell from the sky within the last 24 hours — check out Mount Bohemia’s current conditions.
Other Winter Activities to do in Michigan’s U.P.
If hurtling down a picturesque mountain on a freshly-waxed snowboard isn’t exactly the type of winter activity you had in mind, have no fear! The Upper Peninsula is full of fun adventures and activities during even the coldest months of the year. Whether you’re looking to explore a new snowmobile trail, try your hand at cross-country skiing or bundle up for an ice fishing adventure, the U.P. has it all. It’s time to start planning your next winter getaway?