Part of the army's 10th Mountain Division during WWII, Richard Bresnahan trained in Pando, Colorado—and there he fell in love with skiing. Years later, frustrated at the long drive to the ski resorts up north, he and his brothers dropped their septic-tank business and converted a local hill into a small slope named after the town where he gained his downhill skills. An early supporter of snurfing—snowboarding's predecessor—the park claims to have hosted the first snowboard race in 1979. According to legend, when 'boarding founder Jake Burton Carpenter showed up with his prototype for the modern snowboard, the snurfers wouldn’t race against him and he competed alone in an ad-hoc category. Refusing to rest on their laurels, the park's owners later opened one of the first tubing hills in Michigan and a cross-country-skiing trail.
Today, six downhill trails welcome every skill level, each ferrying riders to the top with the aid of its own tow rope. A snowboarding terrain park lets advanced shredders show off their stuff with a wide halfpipe and grindable rails. Tree runs and backwoods areas take patrons off the beaten path, and more than 5 miles of groomed cross-country trails wend their way through the trees. After guests hit the slopes, a cozy lodge warms bodies with short-order snacks and hot drinks to sip or throw at stalking snowmen.
Approaching its 50th anniversary and under new ownership, Cannonsburg Ski and Ride Area livens up winter with plentiful runs that invite skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels to fly safely down the slopes or develop their technique. Roughly 15 miles from Grand Rapids, a network of meticulously designed parks challenges sports folk with half a dozen jumps and more than 50 terrain features, and a newly overhauled snowmaking system keeps the tracks covered in fresh snow from brand-new snow guns along with a brand new ski run.
Guests of all ages can hone their skills under the watchful eyes of instructors before hitting the mountain's 20 runs, which are served by ten lifts, including one magic carpet. After relishing rushes of downhill velocity, visitors can peruse the well-stocked shop or refresh themselves with treats from the Cedar Lounge restaurant.
Modern Skate & Surf’s alternative-sports shop was founded in 1979 and has since hosted events frequented by Olympic and professional athletes—including superstar Tony Hawk—as well as earned a feature as Best Snowboard Shop in 2012 from Real Detroit Weekly. In Modern Skate Park's world-class, 60,000-square-foot Royal Oak skate park—one of the largest facilities of its kind in the US—skateboards grind across rails or glide over jumps, and inline skaters whiz over obstacles and BMX bikes hang in midair. Customers can build on their extreme-sports skills in clinics and lessons or rent out the facility for parties or high-speed chases. Committed to supporting the next generation of extreme athletes, Modern Skate Park offers discounts to students who bring in report cards sporting A’s and B’s.
In addition to the skate park, Modern Skate & Surf also maintains a East Lansing store that stocks snowboarding, skateboarding, wakeboarding, skating, and protective gear to facilitate exciting adventures.
When winter's clouds block out the sun’s rays like a row of bouncers, Hawk Island County Park’s hills come alive. The main draw—the slopes—ranges in grade from gentle and inviting to steep and challenging, allowing family-friendly activities such as tubing as well as more extreme pastimes such as snowboarding over manmade obstacles or writing "homework is dumb" in the freshly fallen powder. A handy tubing lift hauls visitors back to the tops of the hills after their descents, and a 1.5-mile paved trail invites visitors to enjoy leisurely strolls through the riverside park before enjoying snacks at the snack bar.
Timber Ridge caters to winter recreation enthusiasts of all ages and skill levels, boasting sleddable slopes perfect for a variety of low-friction conveyances. Hit the specially reserved tubing lanes for two hours of sliding, coasting on downhilling donuts from a lofty hilltop perch to a naturally powdery landing platform beneath. During the speedy jaunt down the inclined plane, riders can clutch the handles conveniently affixed to their tube to evade snow banks or avoid holding hands with clingy snowmen. Post-plunge, tubers can retire to Timber Ridge's lodge, which offers concessions, picnic areas, and more to refuel and defrost. Check the snow report and tubing hours before heading to the slopes.
On the edge of Lake Michigan, three generations of family members wade out into the water for a paddleboard class. Some seem apprehensive, unsure of how the lesson will unfold, but the mood changes once Susan, the groups' 70-year-old matriarch, stands atop her board and dips her paddle into the water. Encouraged by her bravery, the rest of the boarders stand upright and step out of their comfort zones.
Real experiences like these set the tone for MACkite's classes, which cover kiteboarding, snow kiting, surfing, and standup paddleboarding. Instructors put nervous students at ease, helping them face fears of falling off a board or accidentally pulling the lake’s plug. The experts can also add inventive twists to lessons, such as leading yoga poses on top of paddleboards.
Additionally, MACkite's crew hangs up their wetsuits and waterproof cummerbunds to man the business’s retail shop. Known to sport silly garb such as pink board shorts and fake mustaches, they help visitors peruse Naish equipment as well as one of the largest selections of Cabrinha gear in the Western hemisphere. Their extensive stock boasts individual items such as wetsuits and complete packages.