The first sign of winter weather means a variety of wintertime activities for kids and families to enjoy quality time outdoors. One of the most popular and well-known wintertime activities is sledding and snow tubing.
Similar to sledding, snow tubing has grown in popularity over the past few years, with some ski resorts offering slopes and hills specifically for the activity. Imagine yourself flying down a snowy hill, racing your friends or family members to the bottom, and taking in the scenic Michigan winter wonderland on your way back up to the top.
With snow tubing being one of the many activities featured in A Pure Michigan Winter, we compiled a list of just a few places to go tubing in Pure Michigan.
Do you have a favorite sledding or snow tubing hill that you want to share? Tell us in the comment section.
Timberlee Hills Snow Tubing at Timberlee Hills is the perfect way to spend the day in Traverse City this winter. Tubing at Timberlee is all the fun of sledding – without hiking back up the hill! There’s no hassle, huffing or puffing. Snow Tubing is one of the fastest growing winter recreational activities in America – and Timberlee is Michigan’s largest snow tubing hill. For more information visit their website.
Mount Zion Recreational Complex If you’re looking for affordable family tubing head to Mt. Zion in the Upper Peninsula! Mt. Zion is well known for very reasonable rates, their tubing park and learn to ski and snowboard programs. For more information visit their website here.
Gladstone Sports Park Another tubing spot in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is the Gladstone Sports Park. Known for their intermediate downhill ski area Gladstone also boasts a tubing area that includes three runs and the only return lift in the Upper Peninsula. For more information on the park contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Treetops Resort Treetops Resort in Gaylord offers all of the amenities of a full service resort including skiing, snowboarding, a spa, and extreme tubing! Treetop’s extreme tubing run is adjacent to their ski slopes and offers a fun and exhilarating ride down the hills of Northern Michigan. For more information to start planning a family tubing trip see the website here.
Hanson Hills Recreation Area Snowtubing is a main attraction at the Hanson Hill Recreation Area. This 1000 acre winter/summer sports park features family recreation at reasonable rates including a terrain Park, 11 downhill skiing runs, 35 km cross-country skiing, snow tubing, biking, softball field, hiking & walking trails, and rental facilities. More information is available on their website here.
Boyne Highland and Boyne Mountain Boyne has two resorts in Michigan that feature some of the best tubing parks around. Take a break from a day of skiing and snowboarding for the most fun you have on have sitting down riding the tubing lanes! For more information visit the Boyne website.
Michigan’s four Great Lakes, more than 11,000 inland lakes and hundreds of rivers and streams provide anglers with great fresh water fishing. As we head into the winter months and the water freezes ever, Michigan offers the perfect location to ice fish for bluegill, perch, pike and walleye. In fact, some experienced anglers say that winter is the best time to fish, because with the warm weather gone, so are the weeds. An ice fishing excursion can be as simple as drilling a hole in the ice and dropping in a line while perched on an overturned bucket. Or it can be an all-day outing complete with an elaborate ice shanty boasting all the comforts of home. With proper clothing and equipment, knowing the condition of the ice and following safety precautions, ice fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience.
With ice fishing being one of the many activities featured in A Pure Michigan Winter, we asked lifelong Michigan resident and experienced angler Lindy Mueller to tell us what she loves about Michigan ice fishing.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself? A: A country girl at heart, I’m definitely someone who enjoys the simplest pleasures in life and I LOVE the water. You can find me enjoying family time on the weekends, boating and of course, when time permits, fishing. I’m married to a wonderful husband who was born and raised here in Michigan. We live on Lake Orion and have loads of fun with friends, family and our sweet little Bernese mountain dog, Monty. During the week, you’ll find me working in public relations for a Michigan-based work wear manufacturer. Life is good.
Q: What are some of your favorite winter activities? A: In winter, one of my all-time favorite sports is ice fishing. Luckily, there are many fantastic lakes to choose from in this Great Lakes state. When the weather gets cold, I get happy…time to drag out the shanty and play!
Q: What do you love about the Michigan outdoors in the winter? A: Not only is Michigan just absolutely beautiful after a snowfall, there is so much you can do in it! Michigan has four seasons, so every season has a fun activity. What’s also quite convenient is that you can fish year-round in Michigan. Whether your jigging for walleye in spring, to fly fishing in Northern Michigan’s holy waters in the summer and fall, to ice fishing in the winter, if you love being on the water and enjoying its fruitful benefits, this is a perfect state to live in.
Q: When and how did you first start ice fishing? A: My first ice fishing trip more than 10 years ago really “hooked” me on the sport. I learned many techniques of the trade from a good friend who passed on his childhood knowledge of the sport from years of ice fishing with his grandpa in Northern Michigan. I learned a lot of basics like baiting techniques, rigging, ice hole cutting, shanty set-up, but I also learned some special techniques, like learning how to read the water to find the most appropriate set-up spot, how to catch your first perch to use as a decoy and how to stealthily spear pike and perch that find their way into my ice hole. It can be an exciting sport when the fish are biting, but also very calming when the action is slow.
Q: What is your favorite thing about ice fishing? A: I absolutely love spear fishing. There’s nothing like catching your first decent sized perch during the first part of your day and using it as your decoy to create some natural flash in your spearing hole. Now that you have one line in the water holding your decoy, you have one other hand free to hold a spear. Sometimes when the fish aren’t biting, but are coming in and out of your spearing hole in droves, spearing is a great alternative to making sure you bring home a few for dinner. You must be absolutely quiet when approaching with your spear as even the slightest motion can spook your potential prize out of the hole. I have plenty of techniques that I have learned that work for me when it comes to spearing perch or pike but will only share with those who plan to spend their entire weekend with me perched on a stool over an ice hole in my portable home.
Q: Do you have a favorite place to ice fish? A: Yes. My favorite location is a secret, but I can tell you that Lake St. Clair is one of my favorite lakes to frequent for perch, walleye and pike. If you find a good shelf to sit on just before a drop off, you’re in good shape to set up your shanty shop. Lake St. Clair does allow ice spearing, but not all Michigan lakes allow ice spearing, so be sure to check out the DNR website and read their posted guidelines on the sport. Part of our job as fisherman is to also be conservationists. Always play by the rules and you will have good luck. I also like the idea that this winter now that my husband and I live on Lake Orion, I can drag my shanty out of the garage onto the lake and enjoy some ice fishing right in my backyard. How sweet is that?
Q: What’s your “biggest catch”? A: I’ve speared some decent sized pike in my day who have darted into my ice holes to go nose-to-nose with my decoys, the largest nearing 12 pounds, but I have to say when you’re out on the ice, it’s super exciting when you are able to fool that one rogue jumbo perch to bite the end of your line! What fun!
Q: Does one particular ice fishing trip stand out to you as your favorite? Why? A: Yes. I remember the first time I took my sister Jenny ice fishing. We were actually sitting in a canal in Algonac, MI. I’d been out there all morning and before she arrived, it was pretty slow. Three hours later, my sister arrives, climbs into my shanty and sits down just in time to see a pretty large pike come in and take a whack at my decoy dragging it out under the ice. I had to explain to my sister that this didn’t obviously happen all the time, it was just beginners luck for her. After I reeled the decoy back into the hole, the eager pike returned staring my defenseless decoy down. I asked my sister to quietly hand me the pike spear that was leaning up against the wall of the shanty. I eased the spear into the water slowly tucking it a few inches just behind the pike’s neckline lining up the shot perfectly before giving the instrument a swift jolt into the fish. Of course, the pike spears have barbs on the end of them, so I didn’t forget to “chug” my fish after the initial poke. This action ensures that you pull the body of the fish up above the barbs so there’s no chance you can lose your conquest. This pike thrashed and pretty much ruined the visibility of my ice hole for some time. When the pike weakened, it was time to pull him out of the spearing hole. When I began pulling him out, my sister began to scream. It was so funny because I started screaming too in the moment of all the excitement – he was a big guy! It was a pretty good sized pike, so when I dragged it out of the spearing whole, its mouth brushed past my sister’s knee cap a bit and made her scream even more. Ha! Ha! Ha! Before I know it, we were out of the shanty, chugging the pike off the spear onto the ice and looking around at a few very concerned residents who had come out of their houses to see what the racket was, but quickly smiled when they saw our prize rolling out on the ice. It’s one of my favorite ice fishing memories. My sister was sold on ice fishing from that day forward.
Q: What is your perfect ice fishing trip like? A: Clear day, sunny with a little overcast, NO wind, clear visibility, my husband or sisters, a Stanley filled with dark black coffee, schools of fish by the droves moving in all day long.
Q: What advice do you have for someone who may be interested in starting to ice fish? A: I would suggest going with a knowledgeable friend first who already has gear you can borrow, experience on the ice and knowledge of the sports rules and guidelines. They should also have all the equipment you need to enjoy/understand your first ice fishing experience. If you become fond of the sport, my advice is to do some research online by checking out rules/regulations on the DNR’s website. You can also read local fish reports, but sometimes just getting out there and trying a few different things on your own will help you learn what works best for you. Just enjoy the sport safely, responsibly and legally. Ice fishing can be dangerous, so keep your head about you, but have fun!
Q: Is there equipment, clothing, gear that you recommend?� A: First off, dress for the occasion. Make sure you have some warm layers of clothing on. Start with some base layers that wick moisture, next thermals and then top those layers off with thermal-lined bibs and jacket. I’m a huge fan of Michigan-brand, Carhartt, a company that offers super warm, durable and rugged products that will last forever and will provide great value to your hobby. You want to make sure your warm, because if you are catching fish, you don’t want to leave because you didn’t dress warm enough, you can always peel your layers off if need be. The great thing about the sport of ice fishing is that you can enjoy it on any budget. Regarding gear, it just depends on how much you want to invest into the sport. You can go all out and buy a shanty, gas auger, ice spud, rods and spears, or you can also travel out to the ice light with a small sled containing a bucket to sit on, a manual auger to cut a few small holes and some ice rods with strike indicators baited with minnows. No matter what technique and budget that you decide works best for you, you’ll need to definitely invest in a decent set of filet knives so you can clean your fish at the end of the day!
Q: Any tips for finding the best spot or catching the fish? A: Most of the time, it’s just getting out there and trying all the techniques you have before you come upon the “best spot.” I’m not one to set up in an already congested spot. I tend to drill a few small holes in areas where there is less traffic and throw a few baited lines down to see if anything wants to play. If I’m pulling a few fish out of the same area pretty consistently, I might decide to set up shop with my shanty and call it my spot for the day. You’re going to have good days and bad days, but any day is good when you are fishing and enjoying the wonderful outdoor splendor that Michigan has to offer. Good luck fellow ice fisherman!
Q: To you, what is “Pure Michigan?” A: The people of Michigan make this state “pure” to me. Michiganders are strong and resilient and take great pride in their home. I’m proud to be a part of this community of true conservationists, outdoorsmen and hardworking men and women. Michigan’s natural beauty is pure, but the people who build it and nurture it day-to-day make it “Pure Michigan.”
Michigan’s beautiful winter weather provides premium opportunities for winter sports fans to enjoy the season. Skiers and snowboarders can look forward to an exciting winter with many places to enjoy Michigan’s snow-filled slopes and trails. With 51 ski areas, more than 260 lifts, nearly 1,000 runs, more than 50 terrain parks and hundreds of kilometers of groomed cross-country trails, everyone can find the perfect place to enjoy some Pure Michigan snow.
Michigan’s ski resorts are constantly working to improve and grow to ensure skiers and snowboarders are having the best experience. This includes things like a new tow rope at Mt. Holiday in Traverse City, a larger ski shop at Mont Ripley in Houghton and new snow technology and special events at resorts across the state.
The following is a rundown of other improvements and special offers for the 2012-2013 season:
Big Powderhorn, Bessemer, Mich.
Big Powderhorn is celebrating the first full winter season for the new Gun Barrel Lodge, which has received high praise for its convenient and modern design features. 1-800-501-SNOW (7669)
Blackjack Resort, Bessemer, Mich.
At Blackjack Resort, there are continued improvements in snowmaking as well as added glade skiing (runs cut through the trees). 906-229-5115
Pine Mountain, Iron Mountain, Mich.
Pine Mountain will partner with the Kiwanis Ski Club to host the Pine Mountain Ski Jump Weekend. The top jumpers in the world will be participating in this event. 906-774-2747
Mount Bohemia, Keweenaw Peninsula, Mich.
This season brings the addition of new runs and a new snocat skiing area. 231-420-5405
Marquette Mountain, Marquette, Mich.
Nine new gladed runs were marked for this year and snowmaking capacity has been increased with the purchase of additional snowmaking guns. In addition, Marquette Mountain is adding more weekday hours by opening at 11 a.m. Monday through Friday. 906-225-1155
Nub’s Nob Ski Area, Harbor Springs, Mich.
Nub’s Nob has added six guns to the Easy Mile Slope bringing the total snowgun arsenal to 282. They increased snowmaking capacity and made some significant changes in distribution infrastructure with the addition of six guns to the Easy Mile Slope, bringing their total snowgun arsenal to 282. New grooming machines were also purchased. Families will be excited about the addition of a “just for kids” trail on the Nub’s Nob South. Additional night lighting was added to sections of Nub’s South and Dorie’s Bowl. 231-526-2131 or 1-800-SKI-NUBS
Boyne Highlands, Harbor Springs, Mich.
Boyne Highlands is featuring a new spa facility available to guests this winter, in addition to upgrades at the Main Lodge. Snowmaking capacity has been increased with the addition of 40 fan guns and the resort has added electronic live-time signage at the base of the slopes providing easy access to the open/close status of trails and chairlifts. Boyne Highlands has partnered with Burton Snowboards to develop Riglet Park for the 2012-2013 season. Riglet Parks offer on-snow play areas with fun terrain and features designed to introduce children ages 3 to 6 to snowboarding. 1-800-GO-BOYNE
Boyne Mountain, Boyne Falls, Mich.
Snowmaking efficiency and capacity has been upgraded with the installation of an additional 1,000 gallons-per-minute water pump and ten fan guns. New live-time signage provides immediate access to the open/close status of trails and chairlifts, and Boyne Mountain’s beginner chairlift, Boyneland, will see increased up-hill capacity this season with the addition of 13 triple chairs on the lift. Boyne Mountain is also introducing a Riglet Park this winter and opening a Burton-exclusive store at the resort. Boyne Mountain’s tubing park is being expanded and the resort is introducing winter fly fishing trips. 1-800-GO-BOYNE
Shanty Creek Resorts, Bellaire, Mich.,
In partnership with Monster Energy, major renovations and expansion of terrain parks have been completed. The ski area is retiring its half pipe and in its place adding Big Air ramps and landings to Elf Shelf. In addition, they are adding a beginner’s terrain park called “Low Rider.” Like many other ski areas, Shanty Creek has made improvements to its snowmaking equipment by adding ten new snow guns. For the cross-country skier, Shanty Creek is doubling the lighting on Moonlite Run. For additional diverse winter activity, they have expanded the tubing park and snowmobile rentals are returning this winter. 1-800-678-4111
Crystal Mountain, Thompsonville, Mich.
Crystal Mountain is adding snow bikes this winter for northern Michigan’s only dedicated snow bike trail system. The resort has also added to their snowmaking capacity this year with new water pipes and more snow guns. More than half of the Wintergreen condominiums units have been upgraded with new kitchens and bathrooms. 1-800-968-7686 or 231-378-2000
Caberfae Peaks, Cadillac, Mich. Thirty-two additional energy-efficient snowmaking fan guns, along with the expansion of the snowmaking reservoir, several snowmaking pipe installations and various electrical upgrades all add up to a major increase in snow making ability. A new Bombardier Snow Groomer will assist with keeping all that snow groomed for skiing. 231-862-3000
Cross Country Ski Headquarters, Roscommon, Mich.
The resort has extended the Rolling Hills Trail and installed a big outdoor bonfire pit on the sun deck of the Stone Turtle Day Lodge. Every full moon during the ski season (snow permitting) Cross Country Ski Headquarters will light the Trapper’s Cabin ski trail with torches, creating a truly unique and memorable nighttime experience. 989-821-6661
Snow Snake Ski & Golf, Harrison, Mich.
The beginner terrain park, introduced mid-season last year, is now a permanent fixture, in addition to the main terrain park. The Zip Line, which will be open this winter, received new, upgraded landings. 989-539-6583
Mt. Holly, Holly, Mich.
The snowmaking system was expanded by adding a pump and piping which will increase water output by approximately 20 percent. More water means more snow when temperatures dip below 28 degrees this winter. 248-634-8269
Learn more about skiing in Michigan in the video below, from the Pure Michigan winter video series:
For more on skiing and snowboarding across Michigan, visit michigan.org.
Where in Michigan will you be hitting the slopes this winter? Share with us below!
Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself? A. I am originally from Grand Rapids, and have lived happily in the U.P. for 7 years. My husband and I own a house in the middle of nowhere, where we enjoy the peace and quiet of the surrounding forest and nearby Lake Superior with our two dogs in tow.
Q. How did you get into snowshoeing? A. I began snowshoeing when I worked at a nature center in Holland, taking school groups for guided hikes during the winter. I made my first pair of snowshoes at a workshop taught by Alan Wernette at Ludington State Park, and he encouraged me to begin conducting my own workshops at Tahquamenon Falls.
Q. What is your favorite thing about snowshoeing? A. Snowshoes allow you to explore areas that are not accessible during other times of the year, such as wetlands and peatlands. Once these areas are covered with snow, it’s easy to “walk on water” and check out what is on the other side. Snowshoeing is also a great way to stay active during the winter and burn off those holiday calories!
Q. What makes snowshoeing so unique compared to other winter activities?
A. Snowshoeing can be a quiet activity, giving you the ability to hear birds calling nearby or wildlife rustling through the brush. It allows you to move about without disturbing the wildlife that lives in the area. It is also nearly impossible to get lost while snowshoeing, because you can always follow your tracks back to where you started!
Q. Do you have some favorite places to go snowshoeing? A. My favorite place to snowshoe is the Clark Lake Natural Area, in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, north of the Lower Falls entrance. That area typically has deep snow, and it’s easy to find places where no one else has hiked, so you can go off in search of animal tracks.
Q. What advice do you have for someone who may be interested in starting to snowshoe? A. Try out different types of snowshoes to see what kind works best for you. Many of our state park visitor centers offer guided snowshoe hikes and have a variety of styles that you can try free of charge. Porcupine Mountains, Tahquamenon Falls, Hartwick Pines and Ludington all have snowshoes that visitors can check out and staff that can answer questions about snowshoeing.
Q. What equipment is needed to start snowshoeing? A. Winter boots and snowshoes are the only two requirements. It can be helpful to use cross country ski poles as walking sticks, both for balance and to provide an upper body workout. People get pretty warm while snowshoeing, so dressing in layers is recommended. A good rule of thumb is to dress so you start your snowshoe hike a little cold; you’ll warm up in no time!
Q. What is your favorite thing to do after a long snowshoe trip? A. Take a nice hot sauna to loosen my muscles.
Q. What are some of your favorite winter activities when you aren’t snowshoeing? A. I enjoy cross country skiing, especially along Lake Superior around the Whitefish Point area, where I can blaze my own trail through wind-swept snowdrifts! I also like fishing through the ice, particularly for smelt and walleye.
Q. To you, what is “Pure Michigan”? A. Pure Michigan is taking a walk through the woods, breathing air filled with smells of the forest, and hearing nothing but the sound of your own footsteps.
Did you know that you can zipline in Michigan year-round? Yes, it’s true! Not only can you glide through Michigan’s forests in the summer, but also in the winter. Chris Coole, one of the producers of the Michigan winter video series, A Pure Michigan Winter, shares with us how winter offers a scenic backdrop to glide 50 feet above the air and take in the sights and sounds of Pure Michigan.
Q. Can you tell us a little about yourself?
A. I work as a senior producer/production manager with the team that produced the Pure Michigan Winter Video Series. We had a great time traveling across the state to capture all of the winter stories. I have also lived in Michigan for pretty much my entire life, except for a few years in Indiana a little while back. I have always loved this state and have a lot of great memories from my childhood of going “Up North” to our cabin in Elk Rapids, Michigan.
Q. What are some of your favorite winter activities?
A. I actually don’t do a ton of recreational activities outdoors in the winter. I have always loved sledding though and have gone skiing and snowboarding in previous years. And amazingly, I actually enjoy shoveling snow in the evening when you get that purple sky and light snowfall.
Q. Do you have favorite places or recommendations for those activities?
A. Our family always goes up to Frankenmuth around the holidays each year and have taken part in some of the indoor water parks across the state. After doing this video series, I would highly recommend the Boyne resort where we shot some of the skiing footage. It was a great time up there.
Q. What do you love about the Michigan outdoors in the winter?
A. I love fresh snow. I love waking up on the weekend and seeing a blanket of white snow outside. I also love the holiday lights and decorations in all of the towns around our area. It puts you a good mood when you drive or walk through those areas.
Q. Why do you think it’s important to get outdoors in the winter?
A. I think you can go a little stir crazy if you don’t get outside and enjoy the weather. We have a trail by our house and sometimes we’ll go for a winter stroll just to soak up the scenery and breathe in some fresh air. That always seems to relax me and I feel like a new man when I walk back inside the house.
Q. To you, what is “Pure Michigan”?
A. I think to me Pure Michigan is going “Up North.” Our trips to our cabin in Elk Rapids are some of my fondest memories as a kid and I always get a special feeling when my family jumps on I-75 on our way up north. I can remember the anticipation of reaching our destination and how fun it was to vacation near Traverse City on Elk Lake.
Q. What do you like about ziplining?
A. Well this was my first time ziplining so my experience is from a newbie’s perspective. But I really, really liked it. It was a whole lot of fun. The instructors were really great to work with and were cracking jokes the entire time. The only time I was a bit nervous was right before that first run. It was awesome and I couldn’t wait to get to the next run. I had two highlights during my experience: the instructors encouraged us to try and lock our legs together above our harness in order to zipline upside down, it took a couple of tries but I was able to master it, and then at one point we were encouraged to try a front flip because the platform was more than high enough. I thought “How many times in your life do you get to try and do a front flip off a platform in the middle of the woods” I thought I would have about a 50 percent chance of success, but I did it and afterward I kind of felt like a ninja. It was also cool to capture all my jumps with a GroPro cam strapped to my helmet.
Q. How is ziplining different in the winter months? Describe the experience, sights and sounds.
A. I would imagine scenery is the biggest difference between ziplining during the different seasons. Ziplining is similar to other winter sports in the fact that, once you get going you don’t even notice the cold because you are having so much fun.
Q. Is ziplining an activity that everyone can do? Who do you think would enjoy ziplining?
A. I think anyone can zipline. The instructors are great and teach you everything you need to know. You are hooked after just one jump. Our group included zipliners from all age groups and everyone had a blast. As for who would enjoy it, I think anyone who is looking for an adventure and gets a kick out of trying new things. I really hadn’t ever thought about even trying this before this video project— but I will totally do it again if I get the chance.
Q. Ziplining is one of many things you can do in Michigan in the winter – do you have any other suggestions on things that people should consider doing?
A. I think all of the outdoor sports are a great way to relax and enjoy our great state. While shooting these videos I got the ski and snowboard bug, even though I haven’t participated in those activities in years. Anything that gets you outdoors for a few hours and gives you a chance to get your mind off the daily grind is a great way to experience Pure Michigan.