The Chairlift Awaits – Winter Adventures at Shanty Creek

There’s nothing quite like winter in Pure Michigan. The snow and ice turns the state into a winter wonderland, creating an ideal destination for skiers and snowboarders alike. As we anxiously await another snowfall, guest blogger Chris Hale of Shanty Creek shares some reasons to head north.

Life in Michigan delivers the best of all four seasons—from the blooms of spring to the sandy shores of summer to the brilliant colors of fall and the wonderlands of winter. For travelers and residents alike, embracing winter in Michigan means getting outside and playing in the snow.

At Shanty Creek Resorts in Bellaire, located in the northwest Lower Peninsula, the snow is plentiful and we love to celebrate winter. Smack dab in the middle of Antrim County, receiving on average the most lake effect snow of all counties in the lower peninsula, Shanty Creek is a winter wonderland with two ski mountains, a six-lane alpine tubing park, terrain parks, dogsledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, 30km of cross country ski trails, 5km of snow shoe and fat biking trails, and more! Plus four ski-in/ski-out dining options, and hundreds of lodging options.

Family Skiing in Shanty Creek

Photo Courtesy of Shanty Creek

This January, Shanty Creek is supporting National Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month with a variety of promotions designed for families to hit the slopes affordably. For children, newbie skiers 8 and under who take a lesson from SCR’s Ski School will receive a free season pass valid for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.

Need more reasons to head to Shanty Creek?

Shanty Creek is proud of the ski experience they provide guests.  This season, they’re inviting skiers and riders who have season passes to any other Michigan-based ski area to come TEST RIDE Schuss Mountain for free. That’s right, just present your valid 2015-16 season pass and get a free one day lift ticket.

Alpine tubing in Shanty Creek

Photo Courtesy of Shanty Creek

The fun doesn’t end there. Shanty Creek has partnered with Domino’s and Pure Michigan to create box-top coupons for discounted lodging, lift tickets and alpine tubing this season.

There are always Hooky Specials where guests can get deeply discounted lodging starting at just $69 for Thursday or Sunday nights (to ski the following day when everyone else is at school or work!).

And finally, don’t miss Shanty Creek’s Sardine Specials where guests squeeze and stuff as many friends and family into a car and everyone skis or rides for one price—just $59. Sardine Specials happen on the 18th of each month of the ski season: December-March. Enjoy a Pure Michigan Snow Day this winter and go outside and play.

What are your favorite memories from Shanty Creek?

Chris Hale is the Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Shanty Creek Resorts. For the latest on Shanty Creek Resorts, including snow conditions, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. For more information, visit the website.

Celebrate 100 years of the National Park Service in Michigan

The National Park Service, which oversees more than 450 park sites throughout the United States, is turning 100! Discover a little history behind Michigan’s seven parks and how you can celebrate this incredible milestone without traveling far from home.

In 2016, a major milestone will be marked across the country as the National Park Service celebrates its 100th anniversary.

Indeed, the birthday party has already started across the more than 400 National Park sites in the U.S., seven of which are in Michigan. There are countless activities and programs available for the whole family all with the hope of inspiring the next generation of park stewards.

The NPS is widely celebrated by Michiganders and out-of-towners alike, with dazzling natural beauty such as the mineral-laden colors that adorn 200-foot tall cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore or miles of picturesque sandy beachfront at Sleeping Bear Dunes.

As the 2016 NPS Centennial draws closer, residents across the country are being encouraged to experience a National Park and then share their impressions by tagging #FindYourPark via social media.

So for those seeking a truly unique Michigan experience while basking in the celebration of the NPS Centennial, here are some ideas to jumpstart your journey:

Find Your Park

Day trip with your 4th-grader as part of Every Kid in a Park

In honor of the NPS Centennial, all 4th-graders now have access to their very own Every Kid in a Park passport which grants free admission to all federally owned natural lands such as national park sites, national forests, wildlife refuges and more from now until the end of 2016.

For 4th-grade students in southeast Michigan, the National Park Foundation is supporting two sets of Fourth Grade Discovery days to be held at Historic Fort Wayne in June 2016 and September 2016. The goal is to reach 4,000 of the Detroit Public School’s fourth-graders during the NPS Centennial.  Students visiting the fort during the Discovery Days program will take part in demonstrations and activities that enhance their grade level social studies and natural science curriculum, as well as have an opportunity to have fun in the park.

Get away from it all at Isle Royale

Crossing the icy, deep waters of Lake Superior from Copper Harbor and entering the unscathed wilderness of Isle Royal National Park – visitors truly feel that they have entered a different world.

The isolated, stunning vistas are truly a way for visitors to explore wilderness, slow down the pace of life and relax the soul. As an island park, there are many ways to enjoy Isle Royale from the water, land or air.

Visitors can enjoy these life experiences during the 2016 Centennial and beyond. Please note: The park is officially closed to visitors until April, 2016.

Discover Keweenaw’s copper story through a scavenger hunt

The Keweenaw National Historic Park is not only known for its radiant, natural beauty but also for its copper mining heritage which dates back 7,000 years ago. Discover the Keweenaw copper and 21 Heritage Sites throughout the region during 2016 by going on the Copper Country Scavenger Hunt.

What did miners put in their lunch pails to keep their pasties warm? Who rescued 24 people and a dog from the shipwreck L.C. Waldo in 1913? Children of all ages have a chance to win a prize by finding the answers to questions like these by completing the hunt. The booklet is free and available at each of the staffed Keweenaw Heritage Sites as well as the NPS’s Calumet Visitor Center.

Other Centennial program at Keweenaw will include a “History Smackdown” competition among local high school teams, a 1916 fashion show featuring park rangers, a monthly history speaker series focusing on the NPS Centennial and much more!

‘Find Your Road Trip’ within the MotorCities National Heritage Area

Southeast Michigan has the largest concentration of historical sites related to the evolution of the automotive industry in the entire world. Indeed, there are many twists and turns one can take while traveling from The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn to the Gilmore Car Museum in bucolic Hickory Corners, and coming in early 2016 the MotorCities National Heritage Area will be encouraging auto enthusiasts to “Find Your Road Trip,” with a one-of-a-kind tourism booklet exploring the vast automotive heritage of the region.

Travelers will be able to have their road trip booklet stamped with an exclusive 2016 NPS Centennial stamp at historical sites across the National Heritage Area and fellow National Park Service sites.

So blaze your own trail, chart your own journey and experience something great using our free publication! It will be available at National Heritage Area partner sites, Michigan Welcome Centers and more.

Photo Courtesy of Austen Smith

Photo Courtesy of Austen Smith

North Country Trail

Headquartered in Lowell, The North Country National Scenic Trail (North Country Trail) is a unit of the network of scenic, historic and recreation trails created by the National Trails System Act of 1968 and is administered by the National Park Service.

Traversing seven states along its 4,600 mile route, it is the longest national scenic trail in the United States. While the North Country Trail is managed primarily for hiking and backpacking, some portions of the trail may also permit other non-motorized uses. Of primary importance is protecting the trail experience—providing opportunities for recreation, education, inspiration, solitude, and enjoyment; and ensuring user safety and resource protection.

The wide variety of terrain, flora and fauna offers everything from a leisurely afternoon stroll to a multiday, rigorous long-distance hiking challenge. In every locale, opportunities abound for bird watching, botany, photography, and wildlife study, either alone or as an experience shared with others seeking the respite of the outdoors.

Photo Courtesy of Chris Loudenslager

Photo Courtesy of Chris Loudenslager

Take a cruise around Pictured Rocks 

At Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, the park and partner Pictured Rocks Cruises have combined forces to offer a free cruise ticket to every 4th-grader in Michigan.

Following a successful test in 2015 with enthusiastic response, about 100,000 tickets will be distributed in Michigan schools in December. Kids can redeem their free ride by bringing their family/guardian/adults to the Munising City Docks Pictured Rocks Cruises booking office and choose their tour.

Tours include Spray Falls, the round trip tour to Chapel Rock or the popular sunset trip. Super thanks to Pictured Rocks Cruises for making it possible for every Michigan 4th grader to Find their (Great Lake) Park.

Photo Courtesy of Laura Rotegard

Photo Courtesy of Laura Rotegard

Discover Michigan’s role in the War of 1812 at River Raisin

Over a century before the founding of the National Park Service, the War of 1812 raged in southeast Michigan, Ohio and Canada. The River Raisin National Battlefield Park – located in Monroe, about 40 miles southwest of Detroit – preserves, commemorates, and interprets the January 1813 battles of the War of 1812 and their aftermath in Monroe and Wayne counties in southeast Michigan.

Artifacts and exhibits pertaining to the battles at the River Raisin are displayed in the visitor’s center museum. Be sure to watch a 14-minute fiber optic map presentation in which the conflict in the Old Northwest Territory is unfolded.

In the west wing, a collection of original military firearms and accoutrements, and an additional diorama, accompany the fiber optic map. In the east wing, handcrafted miniature dioramas depict scenes from the River Raisin, the battles of Lake Erie, and the battle of the Thames. In the main gallery, full-scale vignettes bring to life the American and British troops as they might have appeared at dawn on January 22, 1813, just before the second battle.

Step back in time at Sleeping Bear Dunes

At Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, visitors will be able to step back in time and experience the year 1916, when the National Park Service was founded, as part of Glen Haven Days on May 28. Visit an historic Great Lakes village and United States Life Saving Station/Maritime Museum as part of the day-long program. Visitors can also stroll through the Port Oneida Fair happening Aug. 12 and 13, 2016 and experience life as it was in Port Oneida in 1916!

Other Centennial programming at Sleeping Bear will include the monthly Research Rendezvous Series of public discussions held throughout 2015 and 2016. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and highlight the value of national parks as our nation’s “living laboratories,” Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is hosting a monthly series of public talks by park researchers called “Research Rendezvous.” This program will provide an opportunity to learn about the diversity of scientific investigations occurring in or near the National Lakeshore.

Photo Courtesy of the National Parks Service

Photo Courtesy of the National Parks Service

For more information on these parks, visit their respective websites and social media channels. Which of Michigan’s National Parks is your favorite?

Isle Royale: Facebook

Keweenaw National Historic Park: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram 

MotorCities National Heritage Area: Facebook, TwitterInstagram

North County Trail: Facebook, Twitter

River Raisin National Battlefield Park: Facebook

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore: Facebook, Twitter

Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter

One Dune – Three Great Activities!

The Silver Lake Sand Dunes are a breathtaking sight in West Michigan. Check out three activities you will want to put on your summer bucket list, courtesy of the Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The first time you get to the Silver Lake area, you might think you’re in another country or on another planet with nothing but vistas of dunes and water as far as the eye can see. But when the moment of realization occurs and you discover that you are actually in West Michigan, you wonder why you haven’t been here sooner.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

Welcome to the Silver Lake State Park. Home to rolling dunes and dense hardwood forests, the Silver Lake State Park and its 2,936 acres of rolling terrain is the only State Park east of the Mississippi River that allows the use of motorized vehicles on dunes. This unique attribute is one of the major reasons why so many make the return trip to the dunes every year.

The physical dune area is separated into three distinct areas. The southern most section of the dunes, or the lower third, is reserved for Mac Wood’s Dune Rides and their 7-mile guided dune trips aboard one of their many open air dune cruisers. In 1930, Mac Wood’s began with a 4-passenger Model A Ford that carried visitors around the dunes. Today, they now have a fleet of 4-wheel drive dune cruisers with modified aircraft tires for the perfect dune experience. If you are interested in some of the origins of Mac Wood’s you can see their original vehicle at their onsite museum.

All together, this 40-minute trip is a great option for those looking to experience a more mild taste of the dunes as opposed to the fast-paced ORV experience to the north.

Making your way north to the central part of the dunes, you will find an area for pedestrians only which flanks Silver Lake to the east and runs to Lake Michigan on the west. Here you will see many sand boarders, hikers and nature enthusiasts taking in the natural beauty of the dunes. There are no ORVs allowed on this portion of the dunes. Its appeal lies in the peaceful views of the rolling dunes that change with the winds. As the terrain changes year to year, people return to hike and explore the new sand formations that make up the dunes.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The outdoor recreational vehicle (ORV) dune section is located on the northern third of the dunes where people can bring their own vehicles and ride the dunes (ORV permits required), or they may rent from any one of the great vendors in the Silver Lake Area. Here you will experience the true culture that is associated with “duning.”

The ORV section of the dunes is fast paced, where vehicles are allowed to freely roam across the Silver Lake Sand Dunes. Here you will find a little bit of everything in terms of vehicles. From high-end dune buggies, fully equipped in the latest and greatest gear and technology associated with off roading, to the fresh-off-the-lot Jeep Sierra with the top down and kids laughing.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

The ORV section is also home to a host of four wheelers and motor bikes, rooster tailing sand as they zip across the open terrain.

No matter what part of the dunes you are drawn to, each section has a common bond in that everyone is smiling, laughing and enjoy time with friends and family as they are unplugged from work and the everyday grind enjoying all 2,936 acres of fun in the sun that is the Silver Lake State Park.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes - Hart Visitors Bureau.

Photo Courtesy of Silver Lake Sand Dunes – Hart Visitors Bureau.

FUN DUNE FACTS:

- Park Started in 1919 with the donation of 25 acres of land for park purposes by Carrie E. Mears, in 1964 the official masterplan was dedicated with 2936 acres

- 450 acres – private off road dune riding area – only dunes east of THE MISSISSIPPI to allow this.

- There are three distinct areas – 1. hiking and dune climbing, 2. orv area, 3. tour area for mac wood’s dune rides

- The dunes open for the summer on April 1 and the last day the park is open is on October 31.

- The dunes are home to fulgurites or commonly known as petrified lighting.  These natural forms are created during lighting strikes on the dunes and vary in size and shape and can be as large as a small shrub.

- The central section of the dunes, or the non-motorized section, plays host to many sand boarding enthusiasts throughout the season.

 What is your  favorite activity to partake on this unique Pure Michigan attraction?