As we parted ways at the tiny airport in the charmingly well-preserved town of Houghton (pronounced HOE-Ton) we just had to nod our heads in satisfaction at what we had just experienced. Four straight days of top to bottom tree skiing mixed with cliff drops, pillow lines and even a bit of convex roll….all in the most unexpected place: The Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Its cliche to call Mount Bohemia a hidden gem but it’s exactly what it is. Inconspicuously located in the northernmost section of the UP, Bohemia draws a hardcore crowd of skiers and snowboarders from across the country looking for lift-accessed terrain with a heli-lodge vibe. We often hear old-timers spinning yarns about what ski towns used to be like back in the day before they started in with cookie-cutter condos on col-du-sacs and Starbucks. It was raw, it was rugged, it was real, it was the time of their lives. Mount Bohemia fosters a vibe not seen for decades in many of the most famous ski towns.
The place gets snow. The snowfall yearly average is 273 inches, which is the most in the midwest and interestingly more than a world-famous resort like Stowe Mountain in Vermont (average 244 inches). The reason for all the accumulation is a little thing called Lake Effect Snow, which is easily understood once you hop on the lift and get above the trees. Riding up the triple at Mount Bohemia you are greeted with incredible views of mighty Lake Superior which is only a few miles away.
While the Unofficial team was on location there were constant flurries, which added up over the trip and led to no joke blower pow slashes. Big thanks to our local guides telemarking/filmer extraordinaire Joey Wallis and badass snowboarder/Mt. Bohemia legend known as Pretty Boy Adam. Those boys graciously showed us exactly why they call Bohemia home (if you buy them a Two Hearted at the bar, they might show you too).
The biggest knock on skiing the midwest is the lack of vert and steepness. Straight up that’s what people complain about and 99% of the time you’re right. However, Bohemia offers a similar experience to what you might find on the upper mountain of many major resorts. Think about it, once you take the gondola up, you end up sessioning smaller lifts all day with comparable vert to Bohemia’s 900ft. Combine that with glades, lake views, and virtually non-existant liftlines and you got yourself a potent ski experience.
What’s the après scene up in remote UP? Here’s my advice, bring your bathing suit. Bohemia offers the perk of all perks to both daily lift ticket purchasers and to season pass holders…free access to their Nordic Spa. Elite athletes have long known you can gain an advantage in recovery time through cold and heat exposure and let me tell you, after cycling through the sauna, steam room, hot tub and cold plunge a few times, any aches and pains had somehow vanished (oh and there’s also bar only steps away which might have helped).
If you’re not into the whole party in your board shorts scene, you are sure to make friends at the Yurt Bar, yep they serve booze in a yurt. Its an intimate enough ambiance that you feel comfortable chatting up just about anyone within earshot. Kinda like, we’re all here to get away, ski our faces off and have a good time so lets cheers to that stranger.
The Best Deal in Skiing
Finally, it’s truly hard to imagine a better deal than a $99 season pass to ski legit terrain with dependable snow which includes daily access to the spa facilities. The affordability was so intriguing that it begged skepticism but this midwestern powder house delivered beyond all expectations.
While other ski hills seem to be concerning themselves with how they can pour more lattes or how they can improve their grooming, Mount Bohemia seems to be concerning themselves with just one thing, how they can make Mount Bohemia the most fun day of skiing possible.