5 Extreme Winter Sports that Michigan Does Best

We’ve teamed up with Expedia Viewfinder to spotlight some of the most adventurous winter sports to try in the Great Lake State this season.

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Cold weather doesn’t bring life in Michigan to a halt. In fact, a whole new array of activities open up during the winter months. Strolling along the chilly beaches of Grand Haven or attending the Motown Winter Blast festival in Detroit can certainly be fun for visitors and locals alike. But those looking for something more rugged, more exhilarating, can push the envelope on adventure.

At Expedia Viewfinder, we love discovering adrenaline-pumping, thrill-inducing activities during our travels, so we joined forces with Pure Michigan to reveal some of the most extreme sports to try in Michigan this winter:

Ice Climbing

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When it’s too cold to scale a mountain, try a frozen waterfall instead. Ice climbing is one of Michigan’s more extreme winter activities, and it’s not for the faint of heart. With ice axes, a belay system, and pure grit, climbers methodically ascend these arctic pillars to reach spectacular snowy summits. Over the past few years, the sport has increased in popularity and Michigan is arguably the best location to ice climb in the U.S. In particular, Lake Superior in Munising is a climber’s utopia, with hundreds of frozen waterfalls ranging from 20 to 200+ feet in height.

Ice Luge

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On the shores of Lake Michigan, the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex offers ice luge for mere mortals who’d like to pretend to be Olympians. Not to be confused with the bobsled, the ice luge is flat with two steel runners; it’s built for riders to recline on their backs and steer with their legs and shoulders. One of only four luge tracks in the U.S., the Sport Complex’s track welcomes the general public and provides a rare opportunity to try this velocious sport. The experience is exhilarating as riders hurtle feet-first down the 850-foot track, reaching speeds up to 30 mph (Olympic athletes reach speeds of 80 to 90 mph).

Ice Diving

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One little-known fact about Michigan is that it offers some of the best shipwreck diving in the world. Thousands of sunken ships rest quietly at the bottom of the Great Lakes, some dating back to the 1600s. And it just so happens that the best time of year to view these wrecks is in winter, when the ice coating Lake Michigan acts a sealant against wind, boats, and people who stir up the lakebed. In other words, visibility is best in winter and that’s when you’ll see formidable ice divers chainsaw their way through the surface to sink into the watery world below. An advanced form of scuba diving, ice diving requires a special suit and equipment (and yes, a dive certification is mandatory). But the gear is well worth the experience of drifting through the water to view an elegant schooner or hulking freighter, eerily peaceful and frozen in time.

Ice Sailing

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Called “wind dancing” by some, ice sailing pairs a wing, kite, or sled with a snowboard, skis, or skates. This adds complexity and speed to some favorite winter sports and makes for an addicting challenge. Ice sailing can be done anywhere there is wind and snow or ice, but Michigan is a paradise due to its many frozen lakes—there’s lots of space to play. Ice sailors describe the feeling as energizing and sublime as they harness the wind’s power to glide across the ice.

Snowmobiling

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In the Great Lakes State, hiking boots are swapped out for snowmobiles during the winter. With over 6,500 groomed, interconnected trails, Michigan takes its motor-powered adventures seriously. One of only three states that offers such an extensive system of trails, snowmobilers can explore miles and miles of picturesque, exciting terrain. Ideal for an extreme winter group activity, visitors can speed over frozen lakes and through national forests to see sights that are often hidden in warmer months.

As the weather cools and the snow falls, Michigan turns into a magnificent playground for the outdoor adventurer. Plan a visit this season to try out (or watch) these extreme winter sports in beautiful Michigan.

Written by Expedia Staff Writer

5 Can’t-Miss Winter Sports to Experience This Season

To love Michigan is to love living in a four-season state.Whether you’re a full-time resident or just visiting the Great Lakes state, coming to Michigan means that for a few months out of the year, you’ll experience the beauty of winter and all of the activities and events that come along with it.

When temperatures falls, so does the snow, giving all a chance to participate in some of their favorite winter activities. From a friendly snowball fight in your backyard to cross-country skiing adventure in the back woods, Michigan offers some great ways to make memories during the winter season.

So, grab your favorite hot drink and take a look at five ways to celebrate the winter season in Michigan:

1. Skiing

Michigan offers many ways for people to enjoy skiing, from the rush of going downhill to witnessing the beauty around them by leisurely traversing a wooded trail.

With some of the best downhill skiing in the Midwest, Michigan’s pitch and vertical drops are are some of the most thrilling in the nation. The state is home to 51 ski destinations, ranking it second in the country in number of ski areas. For a slightly slower, but no less of a fun time, consider cross country skiing.  Enthusiasts and newcomers to the sport can enjoy the tranquility of more than 3,000 miles of snow-covered trails with beautiful winter landscapes serving as the backdrop. And don’t forget the snowboarding!

Photo Courtesy of Treetops Resort

Photo Courtesy of Treetops Resort

2. Sledding

Probably one of the easiest and the most fun you can have on a Michigan winter day is spending time just being a kid. Want some thrills and know of a big hill in the area? Grab your sled and go have some fun. Another great way to have fun that is also growing in popularity is snow tubing. Check out one of Michigan’s state or your local county parks for facilities set up especially for sledding and snow tubing, where you can feel the sting of the cold air on your face as your sled careens down a hill.

3. Snowmobiling

Feel the rev of an engine as you race through snow-covered trails and frozen lakes on a snowmobile during a Michigan winter. With more than 6,500 groomed snowmobiling trails, Michigan has one of the most extensive systems of interconnected trails in the nation. From state and national forests, to 11,000 frozen lakes, snowmobilers can experience a great adventure each time they head out for a ride.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @AndyPeninger

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @AndyPeninger

4. Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing in Michigan is a great way to see the tranquil beauty of the winter season.Not all of Michigan’s wildlife scurries off for warmer climates or hibernation as you might get a chance to see rabbits, deer and fox as you trek along the state’s thousands of miles of trails. Snowshoe through the woods, breathing air filled with smells of the forest, hearing nothing but the sound of your own footsteps. Snowshoeing in Michigan offers outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers a respite among picturesque trails and terrains.

5. Pond Hockey

Michigan has a strong tradition when it comes to hockey, and winter weather provides the perfect chance to lace up your skates and have a blast. With more than 11,000 frozen inland lakes, there’s an opportunity to drop the puck anywhere you turn. Whether you’re just learning how to skate or are dreaming of one day playing at Joe Louis Area, all you need is some thick ice, skates, a hockey stick and some friends, and you’re ready to spend an afternoon enjoying the outdoors. Be sure to check out the Labatt Blue U.P. Pond Hockey Championship in St. Ignace this February!

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What are your favorite winter activities? Share with us below!

10 Fun Facts About Michigan International Speedway

Photo courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Photo courtesy of Craig Gardiner Photography

Pure Michigan 400 race weekend is here! More than 100,000 fans will be at Michigan International Speedway to cheer on their favorite drivers as they race around NASCAR’s fastest track on August 16th.

Think you know NASCAR? Test your knowledge with these lesser known facts about Michigan International Speedway

  • The 40 trams used at MIS that bring fans from the parking lots to the track were the same trams used at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta.
  • Six-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson is the honorary president of the MIS Kids Club! He even holds special events at the track.
  • There are 9,000 campsites at MIS – making it the largest registered campground in the State of Michigan.
  • Jeff Gordon currently holds the track qualifying record at MIS, being recorded at 206.558 mph in 2014.
  • Cale Yarborough is the driver who has led the most laps at MIS in the track’s history. In his career, Yarborough led for an astounding 1308 laps when racing at MIS.
  • Parking is always free! Guests can also bring in their own food and beverages, and parking lots open two hours before the grandstand so there is plenty of time for tailgating.
  • MIS is NASCAR’s fastest racetrack! MIS is superfast due to the repave in 2012 and long straightaways on the track that let drivers reach their highest speeds.
  • People have gotten married at the track before, but did you know that Roger Curtis presided over the wedding? It’s true! Roger Curtis, the president of MIS is an ordained minister and married a happy couple in Gatorade Victory Lane on June 17, 2012.
  • David Pearson has won the most Cup poles at MIS with 10. Who will take the pole this year?
  • MIS is the only racetrack where a fan awards a special trophy to the winning driver and team. It’s part of MIS’s Fan Appreciation Program.

Plan a visit to MIS and other Michigan automotive attractions at michigan.org. Follow the race on Twitter at #PureMichigan400.