Everett Kircher owns five ski resorts in four states, including mountainous Big Sky, Mont., but his office is at Boyne Mountain. From here he's set industry standards that others try to follow: the first triple and quad, America's first high-speed six-pack lift, snowmaking patents, the five-day ski week package and an Austrian/American ski school. One reader calls Boyne Mountain: "The best in the Midwest." For 51 years it has attracted the region's best skiers, a chippy group with serious intentions. Its 49 runs are serviced by 11 lifts, with the six-pack running right up the middle of the steepest part of the mountain. Runs such as Hemlock and McLouth are legendary in Midwest lore, but the complex spreads far to the south, ending in a superb race arena called Super Bowl. To the north of the main mountain, newer terrain on Disciple's Ridge literally constitutes a separate stand-alone ski area, and features Devil's Dive, a double black billed as the steepest run in Michigan. At the base is a small alpine village with accommodations for 600 guests, shops, dining and skier services. Nearby is the resort's own airstrip. "Completely self-contained and well run," comments a reader.
What's New Night skiing is expanded to Wednesday through Saturday with a 9 am to 9 pm lift ticket ($49 weekends/$39 midweek), eight additional runs on Disciple's Ridge, a snowboard halfpipe and a terrain park.
A Good Deal The Platinum Ski Pass allows unlimited alpine, night and Nordic skiing at Boyne Mountain, Boyne Highlands, Big Sky, Mont., Brighton, Utah, and Crystal Mountain, Wash. (Last season's rates: $1,050 for adults, $735 for teens and seniors, $365 for juniors, and children ages 8 and under ski free.)
High/Low Rank Lifts (2), Mountain Food (3), Challenge (4); Off-Hill Activities (8).
Don't Miss Log Jam Ale and Brown Trout Stout from the Boyne River Brewing Company in nearby Boyne City.