The Best Season Passes for UP Skiers

Note: Pass information will change between seasons. Check with each hill for updated pricing, partners, etc. Information that has been updated for 2023/2024 has been noted.

2023/2024 Update: I have tried to updated with as much current information as I can find for the 2023/2024 season. With changes, especially around Indy Pass/Ski Cooper, it makes the Indy Pass one of the best values for UP Skiers especially if it’s added on to a partners regular pass. The value of the Ski Cooper pass has dropped immensely. The Mount Bohemia Pass still kills it for value amongst them all and the Legendary Silver Pass is a no-brainer if you ski at those resorts often.

With the recent announcement of pricing for the Legendary Pass from Midwest Family Resorts, covering Snowriver Mountain, Lutsen Mountains, and Granite Peak I decided to go over pass options for the UP and look at what passes are the best for the UP Skier. There is a lot of good skiing in the UP and there are several good pass options too. Many will help you Ski Da UP without breaking your budget.

Of course, each ski area has it’s own pass offering and along with unlimited skiing at that hill most will offer some type of reciprocal deals with other hills. The hot trend in recent years in the ski industry has been the growth of the multi-pass. Thankfully, Vail or Alterra haven’t bought out the UP yet so we won’t be talking Ikon or Epic. But you’ll see that multi-passes are a great option for UP skiers as your yearly pass or add-on to another resort.

Midwest Family Resorts Legendary Silver Pass (Updated for 2023/2024)

The Legendary Pass offers three tiers, Gold (no blackouts), Silver (unlimited at Snowriver, blackouts at Lutsen & Granite), and Bronze (weekday only with Christmas blackout). For the UP skier, the Silver pass is a no-brainer. It comes in at a surprising $475 in the early sale period. As a local to the area, we were definitely worried that our passes would skyrocket in price. In fact, they only went up about $50 over last season. I would say that $50 is worth the price as we are getting a new high-speed 6-pack lift at Jackson Creek Summit next year and this pass also gets us unlimited skiing at Lutsen Mountains and Granite Peak with blackouts during select busy times. This is a pretty decent price for arguably three of the best resorts in the Midwest.

Since Snowriver is a member of the Indy Pass, you can add on the Indy Add-On Pass for access to two days each at over 100 other resorts around the world. It is yet to be known if this will work with the Silver Pass or if you will need to spring for the $575 Gold Pass. For the 2022-2023 season, the add-on pass cost $189. See more about the Indy Pass below.

Legendary Silver Passes now cost $625 until November 15 and then $700 after

Reciprocal Resorts*:

  • Ski at Snowriver, Lutsen, and Granite Peak
  • Add the Indy Pass Add-on for 2 days at 100+ resorts

Other Perks*:

  • 15% off all food & beverage products
  • 15% off all ski-shop products for (non-sale items)
  • 25% off Bring-a-Buddy Discount
  • 25% off summer/fall services
  • 25% off Wedding Facility Fees
  • Lodging Discounts

Get More Info from Snowriver


Mount Bohemia Pass (Updated for 2023/2024)

This is the pass everyone has been talking about for years. The best skiing in the Midwest for only $99! This is probably the deal of deals when it comes to ski passes. First, you have the amazing skiing only found at Mount Bohemia and then you add on a slew of amazing partner resorts, some not a far jaunt away. The $99 pass now excludes Saturdays to temper crowds. $109 gets you all-week access with no blackouts. Two-year and lifetime passes are also available. But, just remember you can only buy this pass during a 10-day period starting on November 23 each year. After that, you won’t be able to get a pass and will have to pay nearly the same price for a day ticket. Oh, and Saturdays are only for passholders now, so you’ll be out of luck.

Reciprocal Resorts*:

  • Porcupine Mountains, MI
  • Ski Brule, MI
  • Whitecap Mountains, WI
  • Spirt Mountain, MN
  • Giant’s Ridge, MN
  • Treetops Resort, MI
  • Crystal Mountain, MI
  • Caberfae Peaks, MI
  • Swiss Valley, MI
  • Mt. Spokane, WA
  • Hurricane Ridge, WA
  • Great Divide, MT
  • Bogus Basin, ID
  • Sleeping Giant, WY
  • White Pine, WY
  • Pine Creek, WY
  • Hogadon Basin, WY
  • Eaglecrest, AK
  • Platekill Mountain, NY

Other Perks*:

  • 20% off at Houghton Border Grill
  • Year-round access to the Nordic Spa

Get more info from Mount Bohemia


Indy Pass (Updated for 2023/2024)

The Indy Pass has taken the ski industry by storm the last few years. It offers 2 days of skiing at each of currently over 180 independent resorts around the world. Just recently the pass has added on cross country ski areas as partners and allied resorts where you receive 50% off the lift ticket price. This pass will give you 8 days at UP resorts and many choices for a short trip. Be sure to look into this for your next vacation too. Many amazing resorts are on the Indy Pass around the country (and even in places like Japan!) Best of all, you know you will be supporting independent resorts rather than buying corporate mega-pass like Ikon or Epic. The base Indy pass is $399 for adults and $199 for 12 and under. The Indy+ offers no blackouts and is $499 for adults and $249 for kids. Another great thing, is if you have a pass at any of the parter resorts you can add on the Indy Pass Add-on to that pass for a reduced price.

UP Resorts*:

  • Snowriver Mountain
  • Big Powderhorn Mountain
  • Marquette Mountain
  • Pine Mountain
  • Mont Ripley (Allied Resort 50% off)

Other Nearby Resorts*:

  • Granite Peak, WI
  • Lutsen Mountains, MN
  • Little Switzerland, WI
  • Nordic Mountain, WI
  • The Rock Snowpark, WI
  • Trollhaugen, WI
  • Tyrol Basin, WI
  • Caberfae Peaks, MI
  • Crystal Mountain, MI
  • Nub’s Nob, MI
  • Schuss Mountain at Shanty Creek, MI
  • Swiss Valley, MI
  • Treetops, MI
  • Spirit Mountain, MN
  • Buck Hill, MN
  • Detroit Mountain, MN
  • Mount Kato, MN
  • Powder Ridge, MN
  • Paul Bunyan, WI (Allied Resort 50% off)

Learn more about the Indy Pass


Ski Cooper Pass (Updated for 2023/2024)

Yep, this is a season pass for a ski hill in Leadville, CO. You may be asking, “I live in or near the UP, why the heck would I buy a season pass for a skill hill in Colorado???” Well, this isn’t technically a multi-pass but it kind of works as one offering three days each at several partner resorts!

Previously, the Ski Coooper Pass was hard to beat. However, the Indy Pass gave an ultimatum to many hills resulting in them dropping from partnering with Ski Cooper. Because of this, The Ski Cooper pass no longer is as good of a value for UP skiers. This can be a big value, though, if you are planning a trip west this year. It would then allow you to also ski at Whitecap and Mont Ripley plus a few in Lower Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota

Many of these resorts are in or within a short drive of the UP. You get 12 days at just UP Resort and if you plan a trip out west you can ski and enjoy the beautiful views of Ski Cooper and also hit up nearby resorts Loveland, Monarch, Sunlight, Powderhorn, and Granby Ranch in Colorado as well as tons of other amazing spots around the country. For this past season, the adult pass went on an early sale in July for only $329 and $149 for kids 6-14. Current prices are $579 for adults and $249 for kids.

UP Resorts*:

  • Mont Ripley
  • Whitecap Mountains

Other Nearby Resorts*:

  • Mont Du Lac, WI
  • Nordic Mountain, WI
  • Little Switzerland, WI
  • The Rock Snowpark, WI
  • Caberfae Peaks, MI
  • Crystal Mountain, MI
  • Giant’s Ridge, MN

Get more info from Ski Cooper


Whitecap Cap it Off Card (New for 2023/2024)

Whitecap brings in a new player to the mix to add on to one of your other passes. At $215 until October 31 and $245 after (I believe early pricing was $199), you can get 10 days at Whitecap as long as you have a pass at another hill. You really can’t beat skiing at the amazing terrain that Whitecap offers for under $25/day. This is a recommended addition to any pass if you visit or live near Big Snow Country.


Other Local Passes with Perks

The other UP resorts all have some great benefits with their passes too. Many share reciprocal days with each other so you can do a UP tour. If you live nearby one of these resorts and will ski it often, these may be the passes for you. Resorts and partners are listed below.

  • Big Powderhorn Mountain* (Updated for 2023/2024)
    • Marquette Mountain
    • Mont Ripley
    • Pine Mountain
    • Mount Ashwabay, WI
    • Powderhorn, CO
    • Mont du Lac, WI (Buy 1, Get 1)
    • Camp 10, WI (50% off)
  • Porcupine Mountains* (Updated for 2023/2024)
    • Mount Bohemia
    • Mont Ripley
    • Marquette Mountain
    • Pine Mountain
    • Mt. Zion
    • Mt. Ashwabay
  • Mont Ripley* (2022/2023)
    • Porcupine Mountains
    • Big Powderhorn Mountain
    • Marquette Mountain
    • Pine Mountain
    • Mt. Zion
    • Ski Cooper, CO
  • Marquette Mountain* (2022/2023)
    • Mont Ripley
    • Big Powderhorn Mountain
    • Porcupine Mountains
    • Pine Mountain
    • Crystal Mountain
  • Pine Mountain* (Updated for 2023/2024)
    • Big Powderhorn Mountain
    • Marquette Mountain
    • Porcupine Mountains
    • Mont Ripley
    • Ski Brule
    • Crystella
    • Mt. Bohemia
    • Whitecap
    • Crystal Mountain, MI
    • Mt. Ashwabay, WI
    • Camp 10, WI (50% off)
    • Mont Du Lac, WI
    • Spirit Mountain, MN
    • Monarch, CO (40% off)
    • Powderhorn, CO
  • Whitecap Mountains* (Updated for 2023/2024)
    • Mount Bohemia
    • Pine Mountain
    • Camp 10, WI
    • Mont du Lac, WI
    • Paul Bunyan, WI
    • Sunburst, WI
    • Ski Cooper, CO
  • Mt. Zion* (2022/2023)
    • Porcupine Mountains
    • Mont Ripley

* Partners and perks are according to 2022/2023 or 2023/2024 season passes as noted and will change year by year.

The Best Breweries Near UP Ski Resorts

After a long day skiing, what is better than sitting back and enjoying a couple beers with friends for your après-ski. And if you are like me, you love microbreweries and trying new beers when you are out. Luckily, over the years many breweries have popped up across the UP giving us all access to a wide range of beer choices.

Where can you go grab a beer at a local brewery when you are skiing the ski resorts across the UP? I’ll take you through the options, including my favorites that are near each ski resort in the UP. This isn’t an all-inclusive article on breweries in the UP, just some that I like and recommend near UP ski resorts. As a note, I have not been compensated by any of the Breweries for this article.


Big Snow Country – Snowriver Mountain, Big Powderhorn, Whitecap Mountains, Porcupine Mountains, and Mt. Zion

Big Snow Country, consisting of six of the most popular ski hills in the Midwest is centered in Ironwood and has been considered one of the top skiing destinations for decades. Along with some of the best skiing, you can also get yourself a pretty good microbrew at two nearby breweries.

Cold Iron Brewing, Ironwood

Source: Cold Iron Brewing Facebook

Cold Iron brewing opened in downtown Ironwood in March of 2017 bringing craft beer to Big Snow Country. The brewery is located on the corner of Ayer and Lowell streets and has become a community hub in Ironwood. The brewery typically has 3-4 beers that are always on tap and features rotating seasonal brews. The taproom is a family-friendly atmosphere and features ping pong, shuffleboard, cornhole, foosball, and other games to play. Dogs are also welcome. No food is served at Cold Iron, but you are welcome to order from a local restaurant and bring it in to enjoy with a cold beer. In full disclosure, I have bartended at Cold Iron in the past and I call the owners of the brewery friends of mine.

Recommended Beers:

  • Drift North IPA – My personal favorite and go-to. I’m an IPA guy, so that’s usually my choice wherever I go.
  • Honey Cream Ale – A cream ale brewed with local honey for those of you have a lighter beer palate.
  • Jack Frost Dopplebock – Usually comes out in December in conjunction with the Jack Frost Festival in Downtown Ironwood. The cool thing about this beer is that the bartender will “Poke the Bock.” A hot metal rod will be poked into the beer prior to serving which gives the beer a distinct carmelized flavor.

Website: https://coldironbrewing.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/coldironbrewing

Five Sons Brewing, Marenisco

Source: Five Sons Brewing Facebook

Five Sons Brewing is located just 20 minutes east of Snowriver Mountain Resort in the small town of Marenisco near Lake Gogebic. This is one of the newest breweries in the UP, having opened in 2022. The owner is the retired police chief and his wife is a doctor who operated a clinic in what is now the brewery building. After retiring, he decided to convert the building into a brewery in his hometown so he could share his hobby of craft brewing. And, he sure did a great job as it’s a spot you wouldn’t expect to see in a small town like Marenisco. No food is served, but you can grab a bite and take it in with you from Two Fat Guys Bar & Grill, just two blocks down the road.

Recommended Beers:

  • Bee Sting Honey Jalapeno Wheat – A crisp wheat ale brewed with honey and just a little “sting” of jalapeno.
  • Alligator Eye-PA – I like this one just because of the name. Alligator Eye is a local peak overlooking Lake Gogebic with some nice scenic views.

Website: https://www.fivesonsbrewingmi.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/fivesonsbrewingmarenisco


Marquette Mountain

I graduated from Northern Michigan University in 2005. At that time, there were two breweries in the Marquette area. Now, there are 10 stretching from Ishpeming down to Harvey! To say, that Marquette has a good choice for breweries is an understatement. I’m not going to go through all of them right now, but will give you some info on my favorites.

Blackrocks Brewery, Marquette

Source: Blackrocks Brewing Facebook

Blackrocks has been perhaps my favorite brewery due to their several very good beers, the unique aspects of the taproom itself, and the fact that they have always lended support to local outdoor recreation. Up the hill on Third Street in Marquette is what would first look like an unassuming yellow house which, in 2010, was made into one of the most popular breweries around. Recent additions to the brewery have added a large patio area, a retail shop, and indoor and outdoor music stages. The brewery has been a supporter of several outdoor recreation events such as the Marji Gesick Mountain Bike Race and the Noquemanon Ski Marathon.

Favorite Beers:

  • 51K IPA – This beer is my favorite of them all. It is a very hoppy IPA that drinks nicely. 51K was named from the Noquemanon Ski Marathon, where the 50K event ends at the Superior Dome which is 1K away from Blackrocks.
  • My Kiss IPA – I said I liked IPAs, didn’t I?
  • Barbaric Yawp – This is a strong (11%), heavy, barrel-aged scotch ale. It’s definitely one to warm up with in as a winter seasonal.

Website: https://www.blackrocksbrewery.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BlackrocksBrewery

Ore Dock Brewing, Marquette

Source: Ore Dock Brewing Facebook

In the shadows of the famous Marquette Ore Dock, Ore Dock Brewing is located in downtown Marquette. Ore Dock provides one of the best live music venues in all of the UP and pulls in many great acts each year. The brewery building is a beautiful historic building made mostly of local sandstone and actually includes two taprooms. Downstairs is a brewing facility, taproom, street-side patio and upstairs is the live music venue with stage and dance floor and a large taproom bar.

Favorite Beers:

  • Berserker – A hoppy hazy IPA with citrus flavors and lactoce, plus a pretty cool name.
  • Six Pointer – A dunkel brewed in cooperation with the legendary Stormy Kromer company producers of the UP’s official cap!

Website: https://oredockbrewing.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OreDock

Barrel + Beam, Marquette

Source: Barrel + Beam Facebook

Barrel + Beam may be a bit hard to find, but is worth the search. It’s not located near downtown like the other breweries, but instead out in Marquette Township near the Menard’s and Subaru Dealership. The building was formerly a popular supper club in the area and was fully refurbished into a beautiful brewery and event hall and now also includes a test kitchen. Barrel + Beam is unique in the types of drinks it serves. They serve several different types of specialty beers you may not find as often at more traditional American breweries such as lambics, saisons, and more. They also brew up a range of ciders and meads.

Favorite Beers:

I can’t say I have a favorite beer here, as I have tried something new and interesting every time and they all have been great. I have particularly enjoyed drinking their meads. A mead is made by fermenting honey in the brewing process. Barrel + Beam’s meads are more of a dry mead and not as sweet as other meads I have tried.

Website: http://barrelandbeam.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/barrelandbeam

The Others

  • Drifa Brewing, Marquette
  • The Vierling, Marquette
  • Superior Culture, Marquette
  • Upper Peninsula Brewing, Negaunee
  • Cognition Brewing, Ishpeming
  • Jasper Ridge Brewery, Ishpeming
  • Lake Superior Smokehouse, Harvey

Mount Bohemia & Mont Ripley

The Keweenaw is home to endless natural beauty, amazing mining history, and the best skiing you will find in the Midwest. It also has a rich brewing history as it was home to the Bosch Brewing Company which was founded in 1874 lasting for nearly 100 years into the 1970s.

Keweenaw Brewing Company, Houghton

Source: Keweenaw Brewing Facebook

Keweenaw Brewing Company’s taproom is located in downtown Houghton, but the majority of their brewing is done in the facility south of the city in South Range. The Houghton taproom is located right on the main street in a beautiful old building with a nice patio in back overlooking Portage Lake.

Favorite Beers:

  • Widowmaker Black Ale – This beer is dark and black, but as an ale drinks very smoothly. This is probably their most popular beer and found at stores and bars around the region and is my favorite of the Keweenaw offerings. Mount Bohemia also has a run named Widowmaker after it.
  • Pick Axe Blonde – Another popular beer you will find at establishments around the region, this blonde ale is easy drinking and smooth. Plus, just below the Widowmaker run at Boho, you’ll ski through one called Pick Axe.
  • Point Trail Ale – They call this a multi-hopped rye IPA and part of the proceeds from the sale support the development of the Point Trail of the mountain bike trail system in Copper Harbor.

Website: https://kbc.beer/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/keweenawbrewing

The Others

  • Brickside Brewing, Copper Harbor – Brickside is a must-stop in the summer months but hours are usually sparse or none during the winter
  • The Library Restaurant and Pub, Houghton
  • Michigan House Cafe & Red Jacket Brewing, Calumet

Ski Brule

Iron River is home to Ski Brule and Olympian Nick Baumgartner, but you’ll have to go to a neighboring community to find a local brewery.

Alpha Michigan Brewing Company, Alpha

Source: Alpha Michigan Brewing Facebook

Alpha? Where is Alpha? Located just south of Crystal Falls is the small town of Alpha, dubbed the smallest village in America with a brewery (population 126), is the Alpha Michigan Brewing Company. Alpha has become one of my favorite brewery stops in the UP and it is also home to the amazing Thursday night “Pasty and a Pint” special. The brewery is located next to the Historic Alpha schoolhouse built in the former bus garage and right off of what is probably the first roundabout ever in Michigan, created in 1914. Just don’t drink and do the Alpha 500… 500 laps around the small traffic circle.

Favorite Beers:

  • Naughty School Girl Cream Ale – An easy drinking cream ale, described as a “lawnmower beer.” The beer was named because of the brewery location at the historic school.
  • Brule River Red – Named after the nearby Brule River, this is a tasty Amber Ale.

Website: https://alphamibeer.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/alphamibeer


Pine Mountain

Pine Mountain was initially founded by beer kingpin, Frederick Pabst, so you have to enjoy a beer while you are skiing here. Pabst loved skiing and brought rope tows to Iron Mountain in 1939 to bring skiers from Chicago and Milwaukee. Pabst was instrumental in creating several ski hills across the country. So toast Fredrick Pabst for helping bring skiing to the UP with a cold PBR and then a local craft brew.

51st State Brewing, Kingsford

Source: 51st State Brewing Facebook

Why is it called 51st State? The separation of the Upper Peninsula from the rest of Michigan and the capital in Lansing, at one time, made Yoopers call for it to become it’s own state… the 51st state. The UP does have many cultural differences to the trolls down below the bridge and is only connected by a large bridge, but alas is still a part of Michigan. The brewery adopted this name and serves several great beers but some really good pizza to go with it.

Favorite Beers:

  • Ski Jump IPA – How can’t I pick this one? Obviously named after the Pine Mountain Ski Jump and my favorite style of beer this is the only choice for me.

Website: https://www.51ststatebrewingco.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/51stStateBrewingCo


There you have it, the official Best Breweries near UP Ski Resorts from Ski Da UP. Where will you be having your next après-ski brew when you visit the UP?

What are the Vertical Drops of UP Ski Hills?

Vertical doesn’t mean everything when it comes to the quality of a ski hill, but it is a statistic that is thrown around a lot when comparing hills and a hot topic of discussion.  Most hills will advertise their vertical on their website and on their trail maps.  Some hills tend to embellish this number a bit, so we asked, what are the real verticals of the ski hills in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan?  I looked at 20 ski hills in the UP (and a few miles from the UP border in Wisconsin) and measured the vertical drop of each hill using Gaia GPS.  If you are wondering, yes! There are 20 ski hills!  You can find them all on the interactive UP Ski Hill Map

Now, on to the list in order from smallest to largest…

Note: All elevation measurements are from Gaia GPS maps and are not official. Accuracy could vary.

#20 – Big Valley Ski & Tube: 46 Feet

Top Elevation: 833 ft
Bottom Elevation: 787 ft
Actual Vertical: 46 ft
Advertised Vertical: N/A

Big Valley Ski & Tube is a small tow rope ski, sledding, and tubing area located near Newberry.  It is easy the smallest hill of the bunch in the UP at only 46′.  Of course, that’s not going to stop local kids from having a blast on the snow!


#19 – Crystella: 69 Feet

Top Elevation: 1480 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1411 ft
Actual Vertical: 69 ft
Advertised Vertical: N/A

Crystella comes in at only 69 feet, but is a huge asset for the town of Crystal Falls. Families pack the hill on weekends and enjoy community events like cardboard box races.


#18 – Gladstone Sports Park: 73 Feet

Top Elevation: 718 ft
Bottom Elevation: 645 ft
Actual Vertical: 73 ft
Advertised Vertical: N/A

Gladstone Sports Park boasts 73 feet of vertical and includes 4 rope tows, snowmaking, and grooming.


#17 – Sault Seal Recreation Area: 76 Feet

Top Elevation: 701 ft
Bottom Elevation: 625 ft
Actual Vertical: 76 ft
Advertised Vertical: N/A

Located in Sault Ste Marie, the Sault Seal Recreation Area includes skiing and tubing hills with a vertical of 76 feet.


#16 – Hiawatha Slopes: 86 Feet

Top Elevation: 947 ft
Bottom Elevation: 861 ft
Actual Vertical: 86 ft
Advertised Vertical: N/A

Hiawatha Slopes also known as Chatham Ski Hill is located in the Hiawatha National Forest near Chatham. The small rope tow ski area has 86 feet of vertical.


#15 – Covington Ski Hill: 115 Feet

Top Elevation: 1667 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1552 ft
Actual Vertical: 115 ft
Advertised Vertical: N/A

Located alongside M-28 in Covington located adjacent to the town municipal building is the Covington Ski Hill. The hill has one tow rope and is mainly used for sledding, however, you will see a skier or snowboarder at times.


#14 – Adventure Mountain: 134 Feet

Top Elevation: 1362 ft
Bottom Elevation: 11228 ft
Actual Vertical: 134 ft
Advertised Vertical: N/A

West of Ontonagon in the small town of Greenland lies Adventure Mountain. The small tow rope area was resurrected in recent years after being dormant for decades. The Adventure Mine which offers tours during the summer is also located nearby.


#13 – Keyes Peak: 216 Feet

Top Elevation: 1520 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1304 ft
Actual Vertical: 216 ft
Advertised Vertical: N/A

Just over the border near Florence, Wisconsin lies Keyes Peak. The small hill boasts and impressive 216 feet of vertical as well as one impressively steep run for a hill of it’s size.


#12 – Ski Brule: 301 Feet

Top Elevation: 1840 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1539 ft
Actual Vertical: 301 ft
Advertised Vertical: 500 ft

We now get to the first of the “big name” ski hills in the UP. Located outside of Iron River, Ski Brule measures up with a 301 foot vertical compared to an advertised 500 feet.


#11 – Mt. Zion Ski Hill: 304 Feet

Top Elevation: 1722 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1418 ft
Actual Vertical: 304 ft
Advertised Vertical: 300 ft

Mt. Zion is located in Ironwood on the campus of Gogebic Community College and run by the school’s Ski Area Management Program. The hill is rather impressive at 304 feet and features one chair and two two ropes. The hill is where many local kids learn to ski, including yours truly.


#10 – Whitecap Mountains: 321 Feet

Top Elevation: 1768 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1418 ft
Actual Vertical: 321 ft
Advertised Vertical: 400 ft

It’s hard to believe that Whitecap Mountains only measures 321 feet of vertical as the mountain skis much bigger than that. It is located just over the border in Wisconsin minutes west of Ironwood and Hurley.


#9 – Pine Mountain: 363 Feet

Top Elevation: 1518 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1155 ft
Actual Vertical: 363 ft
Advertised Vertical: 500 ft

Located in Iron Mountain, Pine Mountain is a popular family resort and also home to a world class ski jump yearly competitions. The downhill ski are comes in with a 363 foot vertical, well below their advertised 500 feet.


#8 – Big Powderhorn Mountain: 419 Feet

Top Elevation: 1630 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1211 ft
Actual Vertical: 419 ft
Advertised Vertical: 622 ft

Big Powderhorn Mountain not only embellishes with having “Big” in their name (compared to the much larger Powderhorn Mountain in Colorado), but also overestimates their vertical by a lot. With that being said, it is still one of the most fun and popular family resorts in the UP.


#7 – Snowriver Mountain – Black River Basin: 426 Feet

Top Elevation: 1627 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1201 ft
Actual Vertical: 426 ft
Advertised Vertical: 490 ft

One half of the resort called Snowriver Mountain, Black River Basin (formerly Blackjack Mountain) measures up at 426 feet. This hill, popular amongst locals, offers varied terrain and no-groom powder Thursdays.


#6 – Mont Ripley: 440 Feet

Top Elevation: 1079 ft
Bottom Elevation: 639 ft
Actual Vertical: 440 ft
Advertised Vertical: 440 ft

Mont Ripley hits it right on the head with their advertised vertical of 440 feet. The hill is located in Hancock and is operated by Michigan Tech University. Many people will drive past this gem of a hill on their way to the larger Mount Bohemia, but don’t sleep on this underrated spot.


#5 – Marquette Mountain: 510 Feet

Top Elevation: 1276 ft
Bottom Elevation: 766 ft
Actual Vertical: 510 ft
Advertised Vertical: 500 ft

Located in the UP’s biggest city, Marquette, Marquette Mountain is popular with travelers, locals, and Northern Michigan University Students. 510 feet of vertical and an amazing outdoor city make this a top destination.


#4 – Jackson Creek Summit – Snowriver Mountain: 550 Feet

Top Elevation: 1748 ft
Bottom Elevation: 1198 ft
Actual Vertical: 550 ft
Advertised Vertical: 638 ft

Perhaps the most popular ski resort in the UP and the second half of Snowriver Mountain Resort, Jackson Creek Summit (formerly known as Indianhead Mountain) boasts one of the top verticals in the state with 550 feet, yet still well below their advertised number.


#3 – Voodoo Mountain: 608 Feet

Top Elevation: 1312 ft
Bottom Elevation: 704 ft
Actual Vertical: 608 ft
Advertised Vertical: 700 ft

The cat skiing operated by Mount Bohemia is located north of the main mountain and west of Copper Harbor. Known as Voodoo Mountain, snowcats operate twice a week during the season to bring skiers to 608 feet of fresh runs.


#2 – The Porkies (Porcupine Mountains Ski Area): 640 Feet

Top Elevation: 1372 ft
Bottom Elevation: 732 ft
Actual Vertical: 640 ft
Advertised Vertical: 670 ft

The Porkies, located in the Porcupine Mountains State Park, pairs 640 feet of vertical with some very impressive Lake Superior views. If you want to go even higher you can hike up to the tower, where the former cat skiing operation went, to ski down glades from about 780 feet of vertical.


#1 – Mount Bohemia: 838 Feet

Top Elevation: 1465 ft [link](1450 ft measured on Gaia GPS)*
Bottom Elevation: 627 ft
Actual Vertical: 838 ft
Advertised Vertical: 900 ft

To nobody’s surprise, Mount Bohemia with 822 838 feet has the highest vertical in the UP as well as the highest in all of the Midwest. Mount Bohemia may be the most unique ski hill in all of the country with yurts as the lodge, a large outdoor hot tub and Nordic Spa, and expert only skiing on all ungroomed and gladed terrain.

*We revised this listing to use the geological peak elevation over the measurement on Gaia. Mt. Bohemia is listed with a peak elevation of 1465 ft. The lowest spot to ski to was found (on both Gaia and CalTopo) to be 627 ft on the road east of the mailboxes.


The Ultimate Guide to Skiing in Big Snow Country – Ironwood, MI

Growing up in Bessemer, Michigan in the Western UP when I was younger I often took for granted how great the skiing was right here in my hometown, an area known as Big Snow Country. Having multiple ski hills within minutes of my house was just the norm and I didn’t think twice. When I was younger, I learned to ski at Mt. Zion and Indianhead.  To me, this was just what everyone had.  It wasn’t until after going to college at Northern Michigan University and moving away for jobs in the Green Bay and Milwaukee areas that I started to realize how great it really was in the UP.  After a little more than a decade away from home, I moved back to the Western UP realizing what a gem it really was.

Having lived in Big Snow Country for most of my life, I often get asked about what activities there are to do, where to eat, where to get a drink, and where to shop as well as what ski hills are the best and what to expect there.  The last few years, I have been a part of multiple Facebook groups related to Midwest skiing and usually try to help people out when they are traveling to ski in the Upper Peninsula.  It seemed that I was repeating myself over and over in these Facebook groups with tips, recommendations, and suggestions. Also, as I was learning even more about these and other hills throughout the Midwest I started getting very interested in skiing in the area. I would find information on ski hills I didn’t know existed, ski hills that used to be around in the past, new facts about places I’ve been to, and the history and people involved in this sport we all love.

Because of this, I decided to start this website called Ski Da UP where I can share what I find about skiing in (and outside of) the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  To kick this off, I decided to create a guide to skiing in my hometown since that’s the place I know best.  Right here in the Ironwood/Bessemer/Wakefield/Hurley area there are six of the best ski hills in the Midwest:

With this level of ski hills plus the amount of lake effect snow that our giant snow gun called Lake Superior produces, you may want to call Big Snow Country the Skiing Mecca of the Midwest.  Whether you are a long time visitor, a newbie to UP skiing, or someone who lives here or nearby I am her to help you navigate your Western UP ski journey with The Ultimate Guide to Skiing in Big Snow Country!

The Ultimate Guide to Skiing in Big Snow Country will be a series of blog posts outlining many different things you need to know about the area.  I’ll be releasing these posts over time as I am able to.  I still have my day job to worry about, but you can also support me here by buying some Ski Da UP, Eh! swag (coming soon). If you have anything else you’d like to see in this guide, feel free to contact me.  I know things change over time, so the plan is to keep this guide updated yearly with the latest information.

Now, on to the guide!

The Ultimate Guide to Skiing in Big Snow Country

  1. A brief history of skiing in Big Snow Country
  2. Ski Hill Guides
    1. The Ultimate Guide to Skiing at Snowriver Mountain Resort – Jackson Creek Summit (Indianhead)
    2. The Ultimate Guide to Skiing at Snowriver Mountain Resort – Black River Basin (Blackjack)
    3. The Ultimate Guide to Skiing at Big Powderhorn Resort
    4. The Ultimate Guide to Skiing at Whitecap Mountains Resort
    5. The Ultimate Guide to Skiing at the Porkies (Porcupine Mountains Ski Area)
    6. The Ultimate Guide to Skiing at Mt. Zion Ski Hill
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Ski Shops and Rentals While Skiing in Big Snow Country
  4. The Ultimate Guide to Dining While Skiing in Big Snow Country
  5. The Ultimate Guide to Après Ski and Drinks While Skiing in Big Snow Country
  6. The Ultimate Guide to Lodging While Skiing in Big Snow Country
  7. The Ultimate Guide on What to Do While Not Skiing in Big Snow Country
  8. The Ultimate Guide to Shopping While Skiing in Big Snow Country
  9. The Ultimate Guide to Transportation to and Around Big Snow Country