Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan: Families Adore this Snowy Ski Resort Packed with Winter Fun


Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan is Perfect for Families in the Winter

Our family’s annual Crystal Mountain ski weekend, a Michigan outdoor winter activity bonanza, lets us kick back in a place that’s become our family’s favorite getaway.

This place has become so special to us that we named our puppy after this destination. Crystal Mountain is our family place.

Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan in Winter

While Crystal doesn’t have snow tubing or sledding, it does have a wonderful ski school, fantastic lifties, and a whole host of other outdoor activities.

Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan
12500 Crystal Mountain Dr, Thompsonville, MI 49683

see also: Crystal Mountain in the Summertime »

Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan Skiing

Crystal Mountain Will Teach You How to Ski

We weren’t always a skiing family, but one of my good friends convinced me to learn how to ski – at the young age of 40 -because it was such a great family activity.

She swears that riding the chairlift is one of the best times to chat with your tweens or teens, hands down.

So, I swallowed my fear, took a few lessons, and crossed the bridge from sitting on the sidelines to being able to ride the chairlift with my kids. I also learned how to pack for a ski trip and layer for winter. (That should be in some Michigan Winters 101 class somewhere.)

crystal mountain resort michigan skiing

Since that time, we’ve been regulars at Crystal Mountain in northern Michigan. We look forward to our time there every year because we know the skiing is good, the staff is friendly and accomodating, and the amenities consistently provide what our family needs to relax and have fun together.

If you’re looking for a Northern Michigan family ski vacation, Crystal Mountain should be on your list.

Read on to learn more about Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan ski vacation accommodations, other things to do at the resort, the food, information on rentals, and more.

Table of Contents

crystal mountain michigan night skiing
Photo Courtesy of Crystal Mountain, MI


Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan

Crystal Mountain Overview

Crystal Mountain Resort is located in Thompsonville, MI.

Thompsonville is in Michigan’s northern lower peninsula in Benzie County.

This golf, ski & spa resort destination is just over a two-hour drive from Grand Rapids, MI, or approximately 30 miles southwest of Traverse City, MI.

Thompsonville Map

The popular Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore and Lake Michigan are just a short drive from Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan.

The resort is comprised of several different areas. In the summer, golf, outdoor swimming, rock climbing, mountain biking, and more are offered. In the winter, the resort switches gears to snow sports, offering downhill skiing, cross country skiing, ice skating, fat tire biking, snowshoeing, and more.

Yearround, you can expect to find onsite restaurants, themed events, the Crystal Spa, an indoor pool, a fitness center, and shopping opportunities in full force. In non-pandemic times, childcare is also available.

Accommodations range from individual cottages to hotel-type rooms and are spread across the resort area.

Lessons are offered for skiing and golf (in season) as well as equipment rentals.

crystal mountain ski lessons

Crystal Mountain’s skiable area covers over 100 acres and has 58 downhill slopes, 27 of which are lighted for night skiing. Plus, you’ll find 3 terrain areas and 8  lifts (2 carpet lifts.)

Another reason Crystal is great for families? The terrain has something for all abilities. With 22% of runs marked easiest, 48% more difficult, and 30% black diamond, families can ride the lift together, ski separate runs, and meet back at the lift for a ride up the mountain.

crystal mountain cross country skiing 1

Crystal Mountain Resort Map

Understanding where things are located at Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan will help you plan your visit.

crystal mountain map 1

BONUS: Crystal Mountain operates a free resort shuttle to destinations on resort property, so you really can arrive, park your car, and leave it.

To schedule a shuttle pick up, call the resort operator at 888-968-7686 ext. 0. For 2020, all shuttle riders must wear a CDC-approved mask to board, and you will ride with your party only.

Crystal Mountain Skiing, Lessons & Rentals

Crystal Mountain Resort is in a Michigan Snowbelt

Proximity to Lake Michigan is one factor that Crystal Mountain has working in its favor.

Lake effect snow is common here, with the resort averaging over 11 feet of snowfall per year. Powder days at Crystal are a treat often enjoyed.

But, snowfall can be unpredictable.

To that end, Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan has invested heavily in snowmaking technology over the past decade, giving it one of the area’s more reliable snow-skiing experiences. Indeed, they have snowmaking on 98% of their terrain.

crystal mountain michigan skiing

Buy Lift Tickets & Book Rentals In Advance Year

Crystal has great rental equipment.

When we started skiing, we rented everything from skis to poles to helmets. As we’ve gotten into the sport more, we’ve acquired our own gear but from time to time we will rent items for a fast-growing child. We’ve found the rental process to be smooth, but it does take time.

If you are able to secure your gear the night before you start skiing, that will help you get out on the slopes faster.

crystal mountain ski rentals

Buy your lift tickets and book your ski and snowboard equipment rentals in advance online to avoid disappointment.

crystal mountain ski rentals 1

Crystal Mountain Ski & Snowboard Lessons

Snowsport lessons at Crystal Mountain are spectacular. Having someone else teach my kids how to ski was such a relief for me. When I first showed up on the slopes, I had no clue how to ski myself – how was I supposed to manage a bunch of little kids out there?

The teaching staff at Crystal is patient and they know how to teach ski school.

My kids were whizzing by me in no time, and they even took me – a person terrified of chairlifts and afraid of heights – to being able to go down easy blue runs my first year. Private adult lessons were the key to me unlocking this mystery.

To book lessons, don’t wait until you show up on site. These things should be scheduled in advance, especially during the 2021/2021 season.

Call 888-968-7686 ext. 2000 at least 48 hours in advance to make a lesson reservation.

An online waiver and payment are required at the time of reservation.

crystal mountain ski lessons

Where to Stay at Crystal Mountain

There are many ways to experience a Crystal Mountain Resort vacation.

Start by choosing your lodging depending on location preferences. Do you want ski-in ski-out privileges? Or do you want the secluded, tucked in the woods experience? Maybe you’d prefer to stay offsite and drive in for skiing. That’s possible, too.

Ski In, Ski Out Lodging

As I’ve mentioned, we’ve vacationed at Crystal for a few years now, and we’ve experienced different family accommodations with each trip. As many skiers know, it’s hard to beat a ski-in, ski-out location.

And, if you stay onsite, you can get a lodging ski package that includes your lift tickets. This can be an economical way to vacation at Crystal, especially if you can go midweek.

The lodging + ski package include lift tickets for the day you check-in. Arrive early, get your lift tickets from the hotel check-in desk, and ski til your room is ready.

These accommodations vary by size and number of bedrooms, but they all have kitchens, which makes staying onsite a wonder. If you’re skiing with another family, sharing meals at your home base is a wonderful way to divide up meal prep, enjoy each other’s company, and save a few dollars.

(Of course, there are many more lodging options available at Crystal Mountain – these are just a list of those we’ve experienced.)

Bungalows – larger homes at the base of the mountain. These are ski in/ski out and often have 3 bedrooms, making them great for a multi-family ski vacation.

Mountaintop Townhomes – as implied by the name, these townhomes are at the top of the ski hill. We easily shared a three-bedroom between two families with 9 people total.

Kinlochen – this is a condo/hotel-style slopeside accommodation with an onsite restaurant.

Our family of 5 recently stayed in a one-bedroom unit at Kinlochen. We were surprised at how spacious it felt and really enjoyed the full kitchen, as well as the proximity to the Buck chairlift.

crystal mountain michigan kinlochen lodging

A Short Walk

Cottages at Water’s Edge – The Cottages are just a short walk away from the base of the mountain.

Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan Cottages

We’ve stayed here in the past and this is where we’re booked again this year. We love the size of the cottages and the charming cabin decor.

crystal mountain cottages

The three-bedroom cottages often have bunk beds, which the kids find very fun.

crystal mountain cottages 1

Kids Staying at Crystal in the Winter

  • Kids 17 and under Sleep FREE ANYTIME
  • Kids 7-17 Ski FREE SUNDAY-THURSDAY* on a Ski Package
  • Kids 6 and under Sleep, Ski and Eat Breakfast FREE ANYTIME (up to two kids eat free, per paying adult)

*Two kids ages 7-17 ski free per paying adult under a ski package. There is a charge for additional children ages 7-17. All children ages 6 & under ski free. Free skiing is only valid if you are on a Ski Package and excludes peak season dates.

Find Nearby Ski Cabins and Homes to Rent

Of course, you can rent a nearby cabin and drive over to Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan as well!

There are numerous northern Michigan cabin rentals in the vicinity, including a TREEHOUSE RESORT!

Tree House Ridge Michigan Treehouse Rental
Tree House Ridge, Thompsonville MI

Crystal Pulls Out the Stops for Winter Fun

A change of pace is nice from time to time, and that’s another area Crystal Mountain excels.

Horse Drawn Surrey Rides are a lovely way to spend an evening.

On select dates between December 19, 2020 through April 3, 2021 (weather permitting) be whisked away through a winter wonderland by a team of gentle Belgian horses.

crystal mountain carriage rides

Complimentary hot chocolate and a warming campfire conclude the ride. Advance reservations required.

crystal mountain wagon ride
crystal mountain smore bonfire

Fat Tire Snow Biking & Rentals

If your legs will let you, pedal your way through the 12 miles of winter bike trails at Crystal.  You may rent bikes from Crystal or bring your own fat tire bike.

Or, sign up for a 1-hour long fat tire tour. Ages 12 and up.

crystal mountain michigan fat tire biking

Michigan Legacy Art Park

This densely wooded, 30-acre preserve has 1.6 miles of hiking trails. The Art Park features over 50 sculptures, poetry stones, and an outdoor amphitheater. Each of the sculptures interprets, in its own way, a piece of Michigan’s history.

The Art Park is open year-round from dawn to dusk and is accessible by foot, cross-country skis, or even snowshoes. Admission is $5 per adult. Kids ages 17 and under are free.

crystal mountain michigan snowshoeing

Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing Rentals

Cross-country ski rentals and snowshoe rentals are available at Crystal Mountain.

Snowshoeing is permitted on all Crystal Mountain property except the downhill slopes and cross-country trails.

A guided snowshoe hike is available as well.

crystal mountain cross country skiing

Outdoor Winter Laser Tag

People ages 6 and older are invited to play a game of outdoor laser tag. The outdoor pool & water playground area converts to a snowy laser tag course with obstacles and hidden routes for maximum fun.

Outdoor Winter Archery

New this year, the outdoor archer range at Crystal Mountain will let you test yourself against target distances of 30 feet. Ages 7 and older.

Outdoor Hot Tub

Change in the lockerrooms (near the summertime water playground and rock wall) and scurry the short distance to the outdoor hot tub. It’s downright magical in the evenings, especially when it’s snowing.

Crystal Mountain Resort Michigan Outdoor Hot Tub 1

Indoor Pool and Fitness Center

The Peak Fitness and our Indoor Pool are open, although the hot tub is closed.

New safety rules are in place for social distancing and occupancy.

Access to the Indoor Pool is FREE to houseguests.

All guests and employees of Peak Fitness must wear CDC-approved masks or face coverings, except while in the swimming pool.

crystal mountain pool

Crystal Spa

The Crystal Spa is open. It’s a great place to unwind with a massage, facial, or mani/pedi.

All guests and employees of Crystal Spa must wear CDC-approved masks or face coverings except during a facial or when face down in massage service.

crystal mountain spa

Crystal Mountain Restaurants

Finding something to eat at Crystal Mountain isn’t hard. If you opt to eat outside of your accomodations, here are your choices

  • Thistle Pub and Grille in Kinlochen is a Scottish-themed sit down restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. Takeout is available. Children’s menu.
  • Betsie River Pizza & Subs: Get pizza, breadsticks, subs, wings, and salads delivered straight to your room or pick it up in the Lodge. We can vouch for this pizza, it’s delicious.
  • Wild Tomato Restaurant in the Lodge is open for dinner. Kid-friendly. Full service bar.

For 2020, Crystal has also added outdoor dining and seating options and will have food trucks during busy times.

For a slopeside snack, don’t forget to bring a few dollars for the Waffle Cabin. It’s always a hit with our family.

crystal mountain waffle cabin

If you venture out to Crystal Mountain this winter let us know how it goes. Drop us a comment and tell us about your family vacation. We’d love to hear your tips and tricks, as well!

crystal mountain resort michigan pinterest

More Things to Do in Michigan in Winter

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