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.


Dustin Filippini