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Ski Resort Life

High Schoolers Dreamed Up This Ski Area in the ’50s; Today, It’s Still a Community Hill

How Crystal Mountain Resort came to be says a lot about the vibe of the place.

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Most of Michigan’s ski areas are steeped in rich skiing history, but it’s hard to beat Crystal Mountain’s Cinderella story. This 102-acre resort just outside of Thompsonville, Mich., is the product of a 1955 high school class project turned community-run ski area formerly known as the Buck Hills Ski Club.

Now family-owned, Crystal Mountain is a four-season resort 28 miles southwest of Traverse City, Mich., that draws locals and tourists alike thanks to its laundry list of base area amenities, including a variety of slopeside lodging and award-winning spa. What’s more: It’s now part of the Indy Pass resort family.

Powder skiing at Crystal Mountain Resort, Michigan
Virtually on the shores of Lake Michigan, Crystal Mountain Resort often sees the benefit of lake effect storms. Photo: Courtesy of Crystal Mountain Resort

Crystal Mountain can’t claim the most terrain or vertical among Michigan’s ski hills, but it does make use of every square inch of its hill. Snow guns cover 98 percent of the terrain, ensuring that the ski area’s 58 trails are accessible from early season to closing day; and lights line 27 of its slopes so that skiers can squeeze in a few laps on work and school nights.

Related: Inner-City Kids Hit the Michigan Slopes Thanks to An Innovative After-School Program

While Crystal Mountain has come a long way since its beginning as a community-run hill, the spirit of community remains today and the resort is known first and foremost as a family-friendly ski destination.

Crystal Mountain At A Glance

  • Vertical: 375′
  • Lifts: 8
  • Trails: 58
  • Skiable acres: 102
  • Average snowfall: 132″+
  • Lift ticket: $65-$99 adult day ticket ($65 midweek; $89 on weekends; $99 on holidays); $229 adult season pass (midweek); $399 adult premier season pass (unrestricted); also accepts the Indy Pass

Related: A Late-Season Indy Pass Could Make Your Spring Road Trip Way Cheaper

Trip Planning Details

Crystal Mountain Resort covered in snow
Founded as the Buck Hills Ski Club in the 1950s, Crystal Mountain Resort is now family-owned and operated.

Lodging: Crystal Mountain Lodging

Whether you’re looking for budget-friendly hotel rooms or slopeside condos with enough room for the whole family, you’ll find something that suits among Crystal Mountain’s generous offerings. The Inn at the Mountain, located in the heart of the village, features traditional hotel rooms and one-bedroom condos, the Mountain Market for convenient grocery shopping, and the resort’s newly opened Bru Bar. For a true ski-in/ski-out option, book a MountainTop town home which sleeps eight to 12. Indy Pass holders save on Crystal Mountain lodging.

Insider’s Tip: Crystal Spa

If your ideal ski getaway includes equal parts skiing and relaxation, then you’ve come to the right place. Crystal Mountain is home to the award-winning Crystal Spa, a 18,500-square-foot, LEED-Certified facility at the center of the resort base area. Spa services will look a little different this season due to the pandemic (day passes are not currently available), but guests will still be able to book everything from manicures and pedicures to facials and massages, as well as access the Spa’s fitness center and indoor pool. Pro tip: Crystal Mountain houseguests receive $20 off for every $100 spent on spa services.

COVID-19 Policies

Masks are required in all public spaces. Be prepared to use your car as your locker room and base area camp. Picnic Park will be closed for the 2020-’21 season, but the resort is introducing food trucks for grab-and-go food options. Book tickets, lessons, and rentals online at least 48 hours in advance to ensure availability; same-day tickets may not be available due to capacity restrictions.

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