The Rustic (& Affordable) Northern Michigan Skiing Experience You Need in Your Life

 The peaks, the peaks are calling...

The peaks, the peaks are calling...

Michigan might not exactly be known for its skiing and snowboarding, but you can bet there are still a few options around the state for those looking to hit the slopes in wintertime. Some of the better options, like Hancock's Mont Ripley and Ontonagon's Porcupine Mountains, are found in the Upper Peninsula, of course, but for a relatively-affordable and down-home kind of experience in Northern Michigan, you can't do much better than Caberfae Peaks.

Situated along highway M-55 between Manistee and Cadillac, Caberfae, which is celebrating 80 years this winter season, boasts some of the biggest vertical drops and longest ski runs in the Midwest, according to Michigan Skier. And though that fact is news to me, I can certainly attest to the steepness of some of the resort's slopes. The first time I ventured there, while a mere lad in the sixth grade, I remember thinking I was going to die going down some of those runs.

Of course, I'm being melodramatic, though the icy conditions that day did put a little bit of a scare in me as a young, inexperienced skier. In reality, there isn't too much to worry about — this isn't Colorado after all. Thirty-nine percent of the runs are rated as novice, 29 percent as intermediate, and 32 percent as expert, so there is a fairly even distribution.

Six lifts help you traverse the North and South peaks, which feature 34 runs in total, and the largest day lodge in Northern Michigan has you covered when you're looking for a break. Dining options at Caberfae include Beatie's Bar & Grill, with its ever-rotating selection of Michigan micro brews on tap; the Blackmer Cafe, where you can grab a cup of coffee and then grab a seat by the two-story stone fireplace; and R Dubs Pub, which features a selection of sandwiches and burgers.

 Caberfae from afar (Image:  Wikimedia Commons )

Caberfae from afar (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

I called Caberfae "down-home" above, but there is perhaps no adjective more fitting for the resort than "rustic." Cathedral ceilings with exposed timber construction in the Blackmer Lodge, plus that enormous stone fireplace I mentioned a second ago, really give off that whole cabin-in-the-woods kind of vibe (minus the ax murderers and such).

Where the resort is located, in Michigan's primarily-rural Wexford County — and within the Huron-Manistee National Forest, to boot —  adds to that vibe, as well.

But let's get to what you are really here for: information about Caberfae's wallet-friendly lift ticket, rental, and lodging prices. Midweek (Monday-Friday), you can nab an adult all-day lift ticket for $39, while weekend tickets are $49 and the holiday rate, which only applies Dec. 27-30, Jan. 13 -14, and Feb. 17 & 18 this season, comes in at $59.

Equipment rentals, on their own, are listed at $36 for adults, but you can't really take that, or the lift ticket prices I just mentioned, at face value, because if you purchase these things online ahead of time, you're probably going to find an even better deal.

Speaking of good deals, Family Fun-Day Sundays in January, February, and March, when a family of three can get lift tickets, ski or snowboard rentals, and a beginner group lesson for $59 (you are reading that correctly) and College Night on every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday during the season (no exclusions whatsoever), when you can present your valid student ID and pay some amazingly-inexpensive prices for lift tickets and rentals, are very real things at Caberfae.

The Mackenzie Lodge will provide overnight accommodations should you require them, and rates for the lodge's 36 rooms are pretty darn affordable, too — especially if you're going for the sleep & ski package. Those packages include one-night stays at the lodge and two lift tickets per person and range in price from $69 to $169 per adult, depending on which day of the week it is and whether or not holiday rates are in effect (for reference: Caberfae's lodging calendar).

Overall, whether you're just hitting the slopes for the day or planning to stay a night or two in the process, take care of things in advance and you pretty much guarantee you're going to get one of the sweetest skiing/snowboarding deals in Northern Michigan. So what are you waiting for?

-LTH