Ski or snowmobile, Michigan’s winters are ripe for fun

GRAND RAPIDS, Michigan (WOOD) – Snow in Michigan is inevitable, as well as the intimidating prospect of driving, sliding and shoveling it. So when you ask most people what their least favorite season is, most say winter.

It’s my experience with family and friends, if you find a fun activity to do in the snow, it makes winter a lot more enjoyable and goes a lot faster.

There are a lot of activities to choose from. Cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing, and fat-tire bikes are just a few. My family’s favorite activities are downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. I laughed this summer when my family and friends were sitting around a bonfire and the conversation drifted (pun intended) to snowmobiling and how we couldn’t wait for snow.

As I know skiing and snowmobiling well, I will share my experience with both. There are 34 ski resorts in Michigan and most are within an hour or two of Grand Rapids, or even closer.

In my opinion, there are few better ways to make gravity work in your favor. The Michigan scenery is beautiful and even more so when you are in a chairlift going up the slope and reaching the top of the mountain. Certainly our mountains are not even close to what you would discover in the West, but you will still be in awe of its beauty after a fresh snowfall.

If you are trying to choose between skiing and snowboarding or snowmobiling, there is a definite advantage to the former. The entry point for skiing is much cheaper than a snowmobile. You also have the advantage of taking lessons and equipment rental is much cheaper than renting a sled.

There is no training to operate snowmobiles, although safety courses may be offered.

Another distinct advantage is that most ski resorts have snow machines dotting their slopes. Snowmobiles are machines, so they require maintenance, a trailer, insurance and storage. Although there are 6,500 miles of snowmobile trails in Michigan, they are at the mercy of Mother Nature. This means that sometimes you have to clear the snow.

Last winter we had to travel to the shore of Lake Superior to find good snow and trail conditions. Obviously this is not a day trip and with gasoline for your tow vehicle and snowmobile over $ 3 a gallon it can add up quickly.

That being said, the trip can be quite fun. What’s so interesting about snowmobiling is that you can explore so much of Michigan’s beautiful wilderness. Being one of the first sleds to come down a track after a night of snow is a slice of nirvana. It’s really amazing how different a trail is in summer and winter.

Whatever your taste, I am sure you will appreciate it. My weekly Snow conditions report will make sure that you are not surprised by the conditions. I’ll be looking for the latest data on where the snowfall is heaviest, how much more is expected (or melted) as well as the temperatures expected for the weekend.

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