Skiing or snowmobiling, Michigan winters ripe for fun

Snow Conditions

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Snow in Michigan is inevitable, along with the daunting prospect of driving, slipping and shoveling it. So when you ask most folks what their least favorite season is, most reply winter.

It’s my experience with family and friends, if you find a fun activity to pursue in the snow, it makes winter much more enjoyable and go by much quicker.

There are many activities to choose from. Cross-country skiing, ice skating, snowshoeing and fat tire bikes are a few. My family’s favorites are downhill skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling. I laughed this summer when my family and friends were sitting around a bonfire and the conversation drifted (pun intended) to snowmobiling and how we couldn’t wait for snow.

Since I’m familiar with skiing and snowmobiling, I’ll share my experience with both. There are 34 ski resorts in Michigan and most are within an hour or two drive of Grand Rapids, if not closer.

In my opinion, there are few better ways to make gravity work in your favor. The landscape of Michigan is beautiful and even more so when you are in a chairlift going up the slope and you reach the top of the mountain. Granted, our mountains aren’t even close to what you would find out West, but you’ll still be in awe of how beautiful it is after fresh snowfall.

If you are trying to decide between skiing and snowboarding or snowmobiling, there’s a distinct advantage to the former. The entry point to skiing is much less expensive than a snowmobile. You also have the advantage of taking lessons and rental equipment is much cheaper than renting a sled.

There’s no training for riding snowmobiles, though safety classes may be offered.

Another distinct advantage is most ski resorts have snow making machines peppering their slopes. Snowmobiles are machines, so they require maintenance, a trailer, insurance and storage. Though there are 6,500 miles of snowmobile trails in Michigan, they are at the mercy of Mother Nature. That means sometimes you have to chase snow.

Last winter, we had to travel all the way up to the Lake Superior shoreline to find decent snow and trail conditions. Obviously that’s not a day trip and with gas for your tow vehicle and snowmobile at over $3 a gallon, that can add up quickly.

That being said, the journey can be quite fun. What’s so neat about snowmobiling is you can explore so much of Michigan’s beautiful wilderness. Being one of the first sleds down a trail after a night’s snowfall is a slice of nirvana. It’s truly amazing how different a trail looks in the summer versus the winter.

Whatever suits your fancy, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. My weekly Snow Conditions Report will make sure you’re not surprised by the conditions. I’ll research the latest data of where snowfall is most plentiful, how much more is expected (or melt) along with the expected temperatures for the weekend.

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