Michigan’s Surprising Ski Legacy

Here in Michigan, we've got some claims to ski fame that will surprise you! Check out how the Great Lakes State continues to groom the way for spectacular skiing every winter.

A ski jumper in the air over a ski run
Kiwanis Ski Jump Championship | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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For starters, Michigan has the second-highest number of ski areas in the country, following New York and beating out Wisconsin, Colorado and California.

The city of Ishpeming in Marquette County is known as the birthplace of organized skiing in America. What’s now known as the Ishpeming Ski Club formed in 1887 as the Norden Ski Club. Its first tournament was held on Feb. 25, 1888 – making it the longest continually running ski club in the country.

For over 135 years, Marquette County has been the gathering spot for the Annual Ski Jumping Tournament. Ski jumpers from all over the globe arrive in Marquette County to tackle an area with five epic ski jumps, including the 90-meter (almost 300 feet) behemoth called Suicide Hill.

Ski pioneers and visionaries are celebrated at the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame and Museum in Ishpeming. From the earliest ski jumpers to today’s snowboarding legends, browse the Hall of Fame and learn more about the history of Michigan’s role in shaping these events at the Museum.

skier coming down the hill on a sunny day
Boyne Mountain Resort | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

For over 75 years, Boyne Mountain Resort in Boyne Falls has been a premier Midwestern ski resort, and its Hemlock Lift was the first chair lift of its kind in the region. Near Gaylord, Otsego Club and Resort was founded in 1939 and operated as a private club until 2017, when it opened to the public. Experts flock to the rugged Mt. Bohemia on the Keweenaw Peninsula for the state’s highest vertical drop (900 feet) and the longest run. Family-friendly Ski Brule in Iron River not only has 150 skiable acres, but also a variety of terrain parks, expert wooded trails and snow tubing.

Experts skiers are eagerly anticipating the reopening of Copper Peak in Ironwood, the only ski flying hill outside of Europe. Sitting atop Chippewa Hill, the 469-foot ski jumping hill is undergoing renovations and will reopen in the future for thrill-seekers to experience exhilarating ski flying all year round.

Which mountain will you conquer first? Check out our Comprehensive Guide to Ski Resorts in Michigan to find the perfect place for you to hit the slopes this winter.