Editor’s note: This is part five of a five-part series on Michigan winter activities. Read the introduction to the series here.
Have the winter blues? A great way to get out of that all too familiar rut is by taking a road trip north to Michigan’s UP. There you can enjoy the endless amounts of snow and beautiful frosted scenery by trying winter activities you might not have considered before.
Ice climbing is truly unique to the UP. To get started, visit Down Wind Sports (located in Houghton, Marquette or Munising), which specializes in winter activities, and is ready to initiate first-timers with its guide services.
“We have the Michigan Ice Festival that happens every year in February and this provides an opportunity to give people this fun experience,” said Bill Thompson, co-owner of the Houghton Down Wind Sports location. “During the festival, we have professional climbers that come in from all over the world and teach people how to ice climb. So, I kind of think of it as if you went to a basketball camp and LeBron James and Michael Jordan were your coaches — that’s kind of what our ice climbing festival is for climbers.”
While you might feel intimidated about giving ice climbing a try, Thompson said don’t be, with the right safety precautions it’s relatively safe. He does recommend seeking out instruction, though.
In Munising, ice climbing takes place along the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore shoreline. The ice cascades down the staggering cliffs and into Lake Superior. It is a breathtaking and magical sight to see. The ice can be in shades of iridescent blue, striking white and frosty opal. Every aspect of ice climbing sounds like an invigorating, beautiful and one-of-a-kind experience.
Next stop on your UP road trip — Mount Bohemia.
Mount Bohemia offers extreme skiing for the adrenaline junkies, snowcat skiing for those who love to wander off the beaten trail, and unique accommodations fit for anyone wanting to try something new.
Mount Bohemia features eight skiing sections with two chairlifts and four buses. But for those who love to get outside their comfort zone, Mount Bohemia also has its iconic snowcat skiing experience that takes place on Voodoo Mountain.
Skiing is a fun and thrilling experience as it is — pair that with the chance to ride in a snowcat to the top of Voodoo Mountain, and you are in for an awesome treat. Voodoo Mountain is unscathed compared to Mount Bohemia’s other skiing trails.
Next up on your UP itinerary: snowmobiling. The UP is known for its thrilling rides.
“There are about 3,000 miles of trails — that means there is a lot of opportunity on the trails to see outdoor attractions,” said Tom Nemecheck, director of the Upper Peninsula Travel and Recreation Association. “Waterfalls are frozen and create beautiful formations and there are lakes and streams you can also ice fish in.”
Nemecheck has a few suggestions on how to make the most of your UP snowmobiling adventure.
“Starting in the east — the more well-known snowmobiling towns would be Sault Ste. Marie, Munising, Newberry, Marquette and Houghton. Anything along 40-50 miles off Lake Superior are the perfect snowmobiling areas, and those are cities we see people stay at, too, for lodging overnight,” he said.