Snowy Escapes Close to Home

Skiing and Snowboarding in Southeast Michigan

Jump into your ski boots or grab your snowboard – it’s time to spice up winter – the ski resorts are NOW open. Snow sports are a wonderful way to help us get through a chilly Michigan winter. Alpine skiing, or downhill skiing, is more popular than snowboarding nationally; however, it seems to be going in the other direction here in the Midwest. Gail Winterhalter, operations manager from Alpine Valley, says “about 60% are snowboarders” at her resort; and Rob Bruhn, operations manager at Mt. Brighton, suggests his resort is “nearly 80% snowboarders.”

Southeast Michigan is fortunate to have four ski and snowboard resorts:  Alpine Valley in White Lake, Mt. Brighton in Brighton, Mt. Holly in Holly and Pine Knob in Clarkston. While these resorts are smaller than the resorts up-north, they are close to home, have good ski schools, and offer local high school teams a place to train and race. Top notch snow-making capabilities allow them to open sooner. Snowboarders will love the terrain parks with plenty of jumps and snow-features to practice their latest tricks.

All four offer day and evening sessions, ski and snowboard rentals, lessons, and a lodge. In the lodge you will find food & drink, a ski shop, and a chance to warm up and make new friends. Also, each resort has adult race leagues, race camps, and special events (such as a winter carnival).

Start by Taking a Lesson

Learning to ski or snowboard can be fun and is best done by taking lessons. All the local ski hills have different programs and clubs, including private, semi-private, and group lessons.

“Teaching young kids to ski or snowboard is a process.” states Patrick Deibel, Ski School Director at Pine Knob. “Children can be introduced to the sport of skiing at three-years-old or even younger. Snowboarding is a little more difficult and takes a little longer for children to pick it up. It is more physically demanding and has a higher frustration level. Young children should first be introduced to the resort by letting them walk around the resort and becoming familiar with all the activities that take place. They should visit the cafeteria … the rental department … and look around the beginner area. Young children should walk around the resort with their ski or snowboard boots on so that they get used to the unfamiliar sensations and extra weight of the equipment. Walking in the snow with their boots on can be a challenge and is part of the learning process. When children are walking heel to toe and able to go up and down stairs and playing in the snow, then it is time to introduce them to the slopes.”

Whether you are young or not so young, you can still learn to ski or snowboard. Basically, skiing is easier to learn than snowboarding, but harder to master.  “Every student is different and a good instructor must communicate with the student,” Explains Jack Pippin, Director of Snowsports at Mt Brighton, “and work toward what they need.”

Go Carve Some Turns

Layer up, dress warm and protect your skin from wind and sun. You should rent equipment your first time out and ask your instructor for advice when it’s time to purchase.

In the early season, it is best to check the web site or call the “snow line” before you go to see what lifts and runs are open. Be safe, have fun, and enjoy winter!



Southeast Michigan Ski & Snowboard Resorts

Alpine Valley Ski Area
6775 East Highland Road, White Lake, MI 48383
25 Runs/14 Lifts
Vertical Drop:  300 feet
Longest Run:  2000 feet
Mt. Brighton Ski Resort
4141 Bauer Road, Brighton, MI 48116
26 Runs/18 Lifts
Vertical Drop:  230 feet
Longest Run:  1500 feet
Mt. Holly
13536 South Dixie Highway
Holly, MI 48442
17 Runs/14 Lifts
Vertical Drop:  350 feet
Longest Run:  2100 feet
Pine Knob Ski & Snowboard Resort
7778 Sashabaw Road, Clarkson, MI 48348
17 Runs/12 Lifts
Vertical Drop:  300 feet
Longest Run:  1620 feet
Don’t Forget …
Snow pants and winter coat
Warm hat and gloves
Goggles or sun glasses
Sun screen
Neckwear – such as a fleece turtle
One pair of winter socks – wool works well
Credit card and ID to rent equipment

Fun Fact

Downhill Skiing first became an Olympic sport in 1936 followed by Snowboarding in 1994.

Michael Dwyer is a freelance writer and travel columnist. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

About Michael Dwyer

Michael Dwyer is a freelance content provider. Michael writes about happenings in the Rochester area, travels across Michigan and destinations around the world. Contact him at

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