Jesse Land of the travel site “Things to do in the U.P.” is a native Yooper who’s always willing to jump at the chance to explore Michigan’s great outdoors. Today, he fills us in on a recent ski trip he took to Indianhead Mountain Resort.
As a good friend of mine observed last year before our annual western U.P. ski trip, when you mention you’re going skiing in the Western U.P., most people assume you’re heading to Big Powderhorn.
While Big Powderhorn may be the most well-known ski resort of the area, there are two others right nearby that deserve much more than an honorable mention. Namely, Indianhead and Blackjack. For this post we’ll take a look at Indianhead.
You Start Out On Top
One cool thing about Indianhead is that the lodge and parking area are at the top of the mountain, so your first trip of the day is down the mountain, not uphill on a ski lift. It’s a nice way to start things off!
As you might expect, the lodge at Indianhead is equipped with plenty of space for those who want to pack their own lunch, but it’s also got a pretty sweet restaurant / bar called “The Sky Bar Mountaintop Grill.” And the name is well deserved. The view from most tables in the place is fantastic. (They also make a great Bloody Mary.)
And it’s a Long Way Down
Indianhead’s 638 foot vertical drop is one of the largest in the Midwest, and whoever planned the hill did a great job carving out some nice long runs. My wife and I actually stuck to the same two runs all day long.
She’s a beginning skier and I’m an intermediate, but we both had a blast skiing Voyager’s Highway (a beginner run) and Chippewa (an intermediate run) repeatedly. Each run was easy enough for her to practice her skiing, but long enough (and with enough ups and downs) for me to really enjoy them too.
As a side note, I have skied every run at Indianhead and while these two are a couple of my favorites, every run is well worth exploring.
Then There’s the Tough Stuff
Of course, if double black diamonds and moguls are your thing, check out “Hiawatha” and “Crazy Horse” on the east side of the mountain. These steep runs are a challenge for even experienced skiers and snowboarders.
“Some Folks Just Make One Run Each Day… to the Red Dog”
My first time at Indianhead, I was talking to the elderly lady at the ticket counter as she chuckled “some people only make one run of the day… to the Red Dog.”
You see, in addition to the Sky Bar at the top of the hill, there’s a pretty substantial outpost called “The Red Dog Saloon” at the bottom of the mountain. Apparently some people like to ski, and then some people just like to ski their way to the bar.
My wife and stopped in the Red Dog for a Bloody Mary and a coffee late the first morning of our trip, and by Noon we were heading back to the hill and the place was packed, much more so than the Sky Bar. And it didn’t seem like any of the patrons planned to leave anytime soon.
All in all, everyone in our group of around fifteen people was pleasantly surprised by how much we all enjoyed Indianhead.
There were definitely plenty of families on the hill, but I got the impression that this hill tends to cater toward a slightly more adult crowd (compared to Powderhorn). That could also be because I wasn’t there on a family excursion, but suffice to say if you head to Indianhead with a group of friends you’re bound to have a great time, both on and off the hill.