Significant snowfall boosts business for Caberfae

Historic ski resort was the brainchild of a group of enthusiasts from Grand Rapids
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A historic glance at skiers Caberfae Peaks. Courtesy photo.

One of the country’s oldest destination ski resorts located in lower Michigan just announced eight inches of new snow.

“The snow conditions are the best they have been all winter, night skiing starts tonight, snowmaking on South Peak starts tomorrow, the Backcountry is open, and we are skiing and riding on 15 trails,” an announcement from Caberfae Peaks on Jan. 11 stated.

Photo courtesy of Caberfae Peaks.

The closest destination ski resort to Grand Rapids, now in its 86th season, Caberfae Peaks is one of the country’s oldest. The popular Cadillac area attraction was the first ski area in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula, and it’s the third oldest destination ski resort in the Midwest.

It also boast the highest elevation in the Lower Peninsula. From atop its 1,561-foot North Peak one can take in a view that is truly a sight to behold, as if all of creation is laid out before you.

The idea for the ski area was spearheaded in the 1930s by a group of volunteers from Grand Rapids and Indiana. Like many major building projects of Great Depression era, it was made possible, in part, by FDR’s New Deal. The Civilian Conservation Corps provided the manpower to build the lodge at Caberfae and its first ski run opened in 1937 and operated as a nonprofit venture. A rope tow powered by a Ford Model A car engine pulled skiers up the first of many runs.

Caberfae was off to a good start!

During WWII, the ski area halted operations for the requisite number of years. When it reopened, a postwar economic boom and increased interest in skiing helped propel it to the status as Michigan’s largest winter sports area and Midwest Ski Capital.

Enthusiasts would arrive by the train load. As many as 4,000 skiers on any given day took part in schussing, zigzagging, and snow plowing down the slopes. Caberfae would enjoy as many as 35,000 skiers each season over its next chapter, until a couple of back-to-back winters that did not produce an adequate supply of snow sent the resort into financial ruin.

It was sold to a private stock company in 1967, which breathed new life into the 30-year-old nonprofit. Over the next decade or so, there would be ups and downs (pun intended) until a 1983 rebranding as Caberfae Peaks set the resort on its current upward trajectory.

Today, the historic ski resort boasts five chairlifts, dozens of runs– including a double black diamond from the top of the highest lift-served peak in lower Michigan.

An easy one-and-a-half-hour drive up U.S. 131 from Grand Rapids the resort offers alpine skiing (groomed trails and backcountry slopes), 10 miles of cross-country skiing, equipment rental, a pro shop, a 39-room lodge with an outdoor heated pool, and several on-site dining and snack options. In the summertime, it doubles as a golf resort with some of the most competitive pricing and best views around. Well worth the trip.

Lift hours for the upcoming weekend are the following:
Friday, Jan. 12 10 a.m. – 9 p.m., with karaoke in Beatie’s from 6:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 13 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., with live “apres ski” music on Arlo’s Deck from 4 – 6 p.m.
Sunday, Jan. 14, 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Monday, Jan. 15, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

See the resort’s SNOW REPORT for more info.

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