When we Midwesterners talk about local skiing, we of course talk about Wilmot Mountain, the closest to Chicago, then Devil's Head gets a nod, and of course Upper Pennicula Michigan (the UP) gets a mention primarily focusing on Indian Head and Big Powederhorn.
Well, I'm going to recommend that you do something crazy. After driving for hours to get to the UP, when you near Indianhead, don't stop. Keep driving, and then drive some more, until you get to a small town on Lake Superior called, unpronounceable, Ontonagon, Mich. Pull over, you're there.
Ontonagon is a dot of a town that is the closest place to stay to ski on Porcupine Mountain, which is the best Midwestern skiing and the most beautiful place to ski in the UP. And it's more than just the skiing--you can snowshoe a dormant volcano, rent snowmobiles, hike trails, cross country ski and also just marvel at the natural, wild beauty of the area.
The slopes at Porcupine Mountain face Lake Superior, so as you carve up the slope, you look at this beautiful, icy lake, reminiscent of Lake Tahoe, without the high cost.
In fact, Porcupine Mountain is quite inexpensive, and Ontonogon is an extremely cheep place to stay. You can get a two bedroom cottage right on Lake Superior for less than most motels outside Milwaukee, and the UP cottage sleeps seven, has a beach view of Lake Superior and includes a full kitchen.
Like many of the best places to go on vacation, Porcupine Mountain's finest attribute is that most people don't know about it. It's generally uncrowded and unoffensive. Of course it will cost you eight to eleven hours (blizzard travel time) in a car to get there from Chicago, but somethings truly are worth the wait.
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