Michigan Winter Moments
Pure Michigan winter means plenty of snow and a variety of adventures for everyone to enjoy. Check out these destinations and experiences at the heart of a Michigan winter adventure.
Outdoor Art Parks
Fresh snow at year-round art parks brings a museum-like hush and pristine landscape not unlike white gallery walls.
Michigan Legacy Art Park, Thompsonville
Nearly 50 sculptures tell tales of Michigan’s history along two miles of wooded snowshoe trails through this park adjacent to Crystal Mountain.
Snowmobilers stop to warm hands over a crackling bonfire and see more than 50 scrap-iron sculptures created by self-taught folk artist Tom Lakenen.
Dow Gardens, Midland
Four paths wind through the 110-acre park with a winter sculpture exhibition in addition to permanent pieces like Frank Lloyd Wright’s Water Nymph.
Make hikes more memorable with gear you create in a class at a Michigan state park.
“If you can make a slipknot, you can build a pair of snowshoes,” Craig Kasmer says. He’s the park interpreter at Grayling’s Hartwick Pines State Park and teaches snowshoe-making classes throughout winter. It takes 38 steps (and an entire day) to build the base of both shoes. Craig weaves one in about 15 minutes, but he’s also been teaching classes for more than 10 years. Students build a style known as modified bear-paw, ideal for use in normal winter conditions. Other styles include Michigan (tapered tails), Ojibwe (tapered toes and tails aid in snowdrifts) and Alaskan (long and tapered for massive amounts of snow and hauling heavy loads). Day two brings more weaving, this time on the toes and tails. Upon completion, students apply three coats of varnish to seal the weave before securing the bindings.
Where to Take Snowshoe-Making Classes:
Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, Ontonagon
November 5. Choose to build one of three styles; 12 participants; $165.
Hartwick Pines State Park, Grayling
Classes almost full: November 5–6, December 3–4, January 7–8 and February 4–5. Make modified bear-paw snowshoes; 10 participants; $185.
Sleepy Hollow State Park, Laingsburg
Tentative dates: December 2–3, 9–10, January 6–7, 20–21, February 3–4. Weave traditional wooden shoes; eight participants; $180.
With a well-placed thunk, picks and crampons bite into glassy 100-foot curtains of ice as athletes pull themselves through a bucket-list climb. Formations with names such as Suck It Up and Hi Ho Silver make Munising’s Ice Fest (February 15–19) an ice-climbing mecca. Get inspiration from nationally known climbers, sign up for clinics to learn or refine climbing skills, and test new climbing gear.
Fancy Ice Blocks
Chainsaw-wielding artists sculpt dragons, delicate birds and fairy-tale creatures during Michigan’s ice festival season. Beginning in January, events like the Plymouth Ice Festival and Zehnder’s Snowfest in Frankenmuth celebrate with dogsled and carriage rides, food trucks, and music.
Lake Superior’s icy waves and powerful winds sculpt cavelike formations along Grand Island, north of Munising. Plan on a one-mile hike on ice and snow (weather permitting) to reach them.
The Michigan Department of Natural Resources sponsors a statewide free ice-fishing weekend (February 18–19) to promote awareness of the state’s water resources and fishing opportunities.
Pucks and Sticks
Cheer on the National Hockey League’s Detroit Red Wings (a historic franchise that holds more Stanley Cup championships than any other U.S.-based NHL team) as they play their last season in the Joe Louis Arena. Saginaw and Flint are home to junior Ontario Hockey League teams, where fans watch future NHL talent develop on the ice.