Outdoor Winter Activities – 2022 Michigan Guide: Fun Winter Festivals, Ski Resorts, Snow Tubing & More

Outdoor Winter Activities Boyne Highlands Resort's Main Lodge and Heather Express high-speed quad chairlift. Photo courtesy of Boyne Highlands Resort.

Outdoor Winter Activities in Michigan

At the sight of the first falling snowflake, my kids begin shouting for joy and digging out their snow pants, winter hats, boots… all that snow gear!

Winter means cozy family times by the fireplace, sledding with neighbors, lots and lots of hot cocoa, and venturing outside to try new outdoor winter activities.

Keeping the kids busy during the winter takes a bit of creativity and planning but it’s worth the effort.

*Feature Photo Courtesy of Boyne Highlands Resort

Outdoor Winter Activities are the Key to Fun

So, grab some hot chocolate (or coffee) and a warm blanket and snuggle up to plan your next epic family adventure.

This list of Michigan outdoor winter activities chronicles a ton of ideas to get you and your family out of the house and ready to enjoy the winter!

Snowboarding & Skiing in Michigan

Places to Ski & Snowboard – and Get Ski Lessons – in Michigan

Even if you’re not seasoned on the slopes, you can enjoy Michigan’s snowy hilltops. (And the exhilarating ride down!)

Most ski resorts offer lessons from kids to adults, making it even more accessible to winter adventurers.

Read on to see where your family can go skiing and snowboarding in Michigan this winter.

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Where to Learn to Ski in Michigan

The entire month of January is learn to ski month in Michigan and most ski hills offer great deals throughout the month.
In addition, many ski hills and ski resorts have special programming for beginers.

We’ve got a whole article devoted to favorite Michigan places to learn to ski and our newbie tips.

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How Kids Can Ski Free (or for Less) in Michigan

I have been skiing since I was three years old and last year I was able to introduce all three of my kids to the sport. 

We signed them up for ski lessons at Crystal Mountain and we were shocked by the improvements they made in just two days!

This year we purchased them each their first set of skis and we can’t wait to hit the slopes!

In Michigan we have so many choices when it comes to terrific learn to ski programs.

There’s even a Cold is Cool program that lets 4th and 5th graders ski free in Michigan. You pay $25 for a passport that gives you access to three free lift tickets at 29 participating ski areas.

Also, check with your local school or ski club – they often work with a nearby ski hill to get kids easy access to outdoor winter activities.

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Where to Ice Skate in Michigan (Indoors or Out)

Ice skating is one of Michigan’s favorite outdoor winter activities.

Oh, the memories I have of ice skating on the frozen pond behind my house growing up!

Trudging through the fields to the pond, shoveling off the snow, putting on cold ice skates, and whirling around on bumpy, uneven ice.

While it was good old-fashioned fun, it’s a lot nicer to skate on a well-kept rink. Someone else clears the ice and keeps it smooth, and we can just skate.

If you want that same smooth experience, here’s where to ice skate in Michigan.

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Sledding, Toboggan Runs & Luge Tracks Around Michigan

For those who want snowy adventure from a lower vantage point than skis, you’ve got to try the luge! I’d argue that it’s more thrilling than skiing, because you can really fly down some of these area luge tracks.

I don’t think I’m ready for that kind of adrenaline rush yet. For now, I get plenty of kicks out of tubing.

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Muskegon Winter Sports Complex – Luge

Here are the places where you can slide down those snowy slopes, at whatever speed you’re comfortable with.

Whether you’ve got a fancy snow tube or just want to grab a cookie sheet from the cupboard, here are the hills where kids can sled in West Michigan.

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Snow Tubing in Michigan

If you like sledding, you’re going to love snow tubing in Michigan.

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Snow tubing at Cannonsburg

Combine the thrill of speeding down a snow-covered hill on a cushy tube, with the ease of a ride back up to the top and you’ve got a winning combination.

Check with property owners before sledding and tubing and follow all local laws and regulations.

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Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing in Michigan

Snowshoeing in Michigan can be done almost anywhere you can find public property and some snow.

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Snowshoeing at Ski Brule

Most parks will let you snowshoe through the woods or across open fields, blazing your own trail. There are places to snowshoe with dedicated snowshoe trails as well. Snowshoeing on a trail is easier because the trail will already be compacted.

Please note: Snowshoeing open/closed status fluctuates with the weather. 

Advance equipment rental reservations are highly encouraged. 

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Snowmobiling in Michigan

Take in the beauty of the Michigan wilderness as you fly across the snow in a snowmobile. Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula are popular spots for snowmobilers, with thousands of trails crisscrossing the state. You can check out all the Michigan snowmobile maps here.

A big draw for snowmobile fans in Michigan is the International 500 race, touted as the toughest snowmobile race in the world.

International 500 Snowmobile Race

984 W 4th Ave Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783

Monday-Saturday, January 31-February 5, 2022
Professional snowmobilers race at speeds over 100 mph in Sault Ste Marie in this huge yearly event.

Since 1969, hundreds of thousands of diehard snowmobile and winter enthusiasts have journeyed to Sault Ste. Marie, MI to enjoy the frozen, snowy spectacle of the I-500, and be a part of the Upper Peninsula’s most astonishing snowmobile action.

The first Saturday of February every year is when the best snowmobile racers in the world go 500 laps/500 miles in the most demanding and grueling Snowmobile Race in the world!

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Michigan Snowmobile Trails


Here’s where you can take that picturesque snowmobile ride on snowy trails in Michigan. The trails are endless.

Snowmobile - Upper Peninsula

Over 70 miles of maintained trails in the Gogebic Range Trail Authority system

Big Snow Resort's Indianhead and Blackjack Mountains are on Trail 2 between Bessemer and Wakefield, Michigan.

Rentals available

Snowmobile - Upper Peninsula

3,000 miles in the Upper Peninsula for snowmobiling Michigan.

Direct access to the trail system of the Upper Peninsula and Northern Wisconsin is accessible from Ski Brule.

The groomed trails wind through the forests offering scenic overlooks, railroad grades, bridges, hills, lakes, cedar swamps and logging roads.

Ample trailer parking is available at Ski Brule with onsite dining, saloon and the array of activities for families.

No rentals on-site.

Snowmobile - Northern Lower Peninsula

You can ride in & ride out from Treetops, just 3 miles from the trail system, and we offer trailer parking, heated indoor pools, hot tubs, and multiple restaurants.

No rentals available

Snowmobile - Northern Lower Peninsula

Perhaps you are unfamiliar with the Traverse City snowmobile trails, or perhaps you want to snowmobile off the trails in less congested, unmapped areas. Blue Sky Rentals, Inc. is pleased to offer guided tours in and around the Traverse City area. Guided tours can be customized to fit your needs, and rates are determined by your request. Please reserve your guided tour in advance, trail guide schedules book out early!

GUIDED TOURS ON THE BOARDMAN TRAIL SYSTEM

$150 guide fee for 4 hours, $250 guide fee for 8 hours. Guided tours for up to 5 snowmobiles. 6 or more snowmobiles a second guide will be required. Most guided tours are private tours, just you and your group.

Custom tours available. Groups larger than 5 snowmobiles require 2 guides. Second guide fee is $25 per hour. Times are estimated and will vary depending on your snowmobiling experience.

Single and double rentals available.

Snowmobile - Northern Lower Peninsula

Crystal Mountain is surrounded by miles of northern Michigan snowmobile trails. Snowmobilers visiting Crystal Mountain have direct access to Michigan DNR Trail 391, which leads to a groomed network of Michigan DNR Designated Snowmobile Trails.

There are no on-site snowmobile trails at Crystal Mountain.

Snowmobile - Northern Lower Peninsula

Private Guided tours are available Monday – Thursday by appointment only and Group tours on weekends are based on availability.

Snowmobile - Northern Lower Peninsula

Guests of Shanty Creek Resort looking for trails of another variety are often very pleased to learn the Jordan Valley Trail System is just a few miles from Schuss Village, and from there Pure Michigan awaits.

If you don't have your own, several outfitters can hook you up including Snowblitz and Blue Sky Rentals.

Snowmobile - Northern Lower Peninsula

With 140″ to 180″ of annual snowfall and direct access to nearly 750 miles of groomed, connected and marked snowmobile trails, winter is a great time to visit us. You can ride your snowmobile right from your room, weather permitting.

Dog Sledding in Michigan

 If you are looking for something a little different this year, we have created a list for you, with a variety of different dog sledding experiences.  If you are just wanting a simple ride, we have you covered, and we have two locations listed in the Lower Peninsula for your family to enjoy.

 If you’re unsure your family will enjoy a dog sled ride, but think they may enjoy watching a sled dog race, check out the links to some races.

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Husky Haven Dog Sledding
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World of Winter

Head to downtown Grand Rapids for the annual World of Winter event in January and February.

Sleigh Rides in Michigan

It doesn’t have to be Christmas to dash through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. Michigan horse-drawn sleigh rides are around all winter!

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Horse drawn sleigh rides at Fruitridge Farms

High energy Michigan winter sports are pretty exciting, but some of us prefer a more leisurely winter escapade.

Michigan winter enthusiasts can swap downhill skis for cross country, opt to tube downhill instead of luge, or trade that high-speed snowmobile ride for a nice, low-key sleigh ride over the snow.

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More Outdoor Winter Activities

Looking for more? Michigan has some crazy winter activities across the state. Explore frozen waterfalls, sled our gigantic sand dunes or climb ice towers. If you can dream it, it’s probably already being done somewhere in Michigan – we never say no to thrills!

3 thoughts on “Outdoor Winter Activities – 2022 Michigan Guide: Fun Winter Festivals, Ski Resorts, Snow Tubing & More”

  1. This was very helpful for creating a list of things to do and ways to connect with people when everything is closed thank you Mary!

  2. Zion Christian School

    Please do not use Zion Christian School’s sledding hill anymore. We have had construction over the summer and our hill now has a brick wall with a 4 foot drop to a cement walkway at the bottom.

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