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Great Lakes skiing

Skiing at Mt. Holly, Michigan
Skiing at Mt. Holly, Michigan
Jessica Honard

When it comes to winter sports, like skiing, the western Rockies are often the undeniable victor in the competition for best locale. But for many people, Colorado and its daunting slopes are a distant dream. Luckily, this isn’t as restrictive as it seems. The rest of the U.S. has some fantastic skiing opportunities and, in fact, Great Lakes skiing can be some of the best skiing.

Check out a few reasons why you should consider the Great Lakes region for your next ski or snowboard trip:

Shorter lift lines

No one likes waiting in line, especially if it’s a cold, crowded lift line. Luckily, Great Lakes skiing can offer some relief from the sometimes neverending queue that forms at the bottom of a mountain. While every resort has its busy time, most hardcore skiers and vacationers head west to the Rockies or north to New England during ski season, leaving these resorts a bit less crowded. This is especially true in the evenings and non-holiday weekends, when it’s not uncommon to hop right back onto a lift after reaching the bottom of the hill. Which is good, because the slopes themselves are quite a bit shorter than those out west. Which leads us to the next advantage of Great Lakes skiing.

Manageable runs

Holiday Valley, a ski resort in New York, boasts a single run that is a mile long. Travelers won’t find much of anything in the area longer than that, and it’s dwarfed compared to the mammoth runs out west. However, this can be a blessing in disguise. Shorter runs allow visitors to explore more of the mountain while giving skiier legs a bit of a rest as they go up the lift. These runs also make it easier to keep with a large group and are less intimidating to beginners. As an added bonus, if the lodge suddenly seems like a better alternative to the slopes, the trek back usually requires no more than two or three full runs.

Lake effect snow

The Great Lakes is well known for its snow. Lake effect snow will frequently dump foot upon foot of fresh powder on the slopes, making Great Lakes skiing incredibly reliable. There are snow makers, of course, for the leaner years, but usually the snow that falls naturally is more than enough to provide great ground cover. The snow is typically of a good consistency for skiing, too, without too much ice or slush mixed in.


It’s no secret that a trip to Vail is expensive. Sure, flights into Denver might be reasonable. But then there's the trip to the ski resort, lodging, lift tickets, meals, etc. to factor in. Often times, mountain ski towns are far away from main cities and towns, forcing visitors to rely on whatever is available locally.

Ski resorts in the Great Lakes region are often relatively near main towns, making it easy to find familiar, cost-effective stores. Additionally, lift tickets are often much cheaper here than out west, making a full day (or several days) of skiing much more cost effective. Check out Groupon and other discount sites for deals that package lift tickets with lodging.

The region is dotted with adorable ski towns that offer a unique, adrenaline-filled respite from the day-to-day grind. There are a number of really fantastic resorts throughout the Great Lakes region. Some of these include Holiday Valley (NY), Peek n’ Peak (NY), Boston Mills/Brandywine (OH), and Boyne Mountain (MI).

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