Welcome to a Wide-Open Winter

Gaylord not only embraces winter, we OWN it!  When you’re lucky enough to sit smack dab in the middle of lower Michigan’s snowbelt, you know flurries mean only one thing – endless opportunities for frosty fun.  We know we’re lucky here, but more than that, we’re welcoming – to you, to yours, and to the roughly 152 inches of annual snow that make Gaylord a winter-lover’s dream come true.  Don’t just walk in our winter wonderland. Ski it, float it, fish it, sled it and sail downhill on it.

Here’s our ultimate winter checklist:


1.  Hit the slopes!  Downhill skiers and snowboarders will find powder-perfect conditions all winter at our two premier ski destinations – Treetops Resort and the Otsego Resort.  Built into the scenic Pigeon River Valley and Sturgeon River Valley, each resort offers variable terrain for skiers of all levels.  Not sure about your downhill skills but looking for an adrenaline rush?  Nab a pass for tubing at either resort and feel the effortless rush of the winter wind in your hair!  

2.  Float the not-so-frozen Sturgeon River in a guided raft trip. No winter trip to Gaylord is complete without experiencing one of our hidden gems, rafting the scenic and serene Sturgeon.  With Sturgeon River Paddlesports in Wolverine and Big Bear Adventures in Indian River, a quick jaunt north will be well worth the hours of fun and entertainment provided!  Read here to take a quick course in Winter Rafting 101


3.  Check in with winter wildlife at Aspen Park. Thanks to the white background, photographing the elk and scenic Scott’s Pond is never better. With almost 2-miles of groomed and 5 miles of ungroomed trails, this little oasis is a haven for cross-country skiers and snowshoers alike.  The best part?  Your adventure doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down.  Solar powered lights will guide you along approximately 1.5 miles of powdery bliss. 

4.  Rent a snowmobile or trailer your own and check out some of the 500 miles of groomed trails branching throughout 8 northern Michigan counties from our central location. Riders can jump on Trail #7 that runs straight up the middle of our beautiful state, connecting into the Upper Peninsula with a quick transfer from Bridge Authority.  Not feeling quite that adventurous?  Maybe Trail #4 is more your style – head west and meander through the quaint communities of East Jordan and Mancelona.  If you’re up for it, point your compass east and follow trails through Johannesburg and Lewiston that zigzag north into Millersburg and Onaway.  And don’t forget about our friends in untamed forests surrounding Frederic and Grayling to the south. Of course, we’ve got maps and they are FREE to our snowmobiling friends!

5.  Dine in an igloo. Hungry but not ready to give up your love for being outdoors in winter?  You can still dine outside with all the warmth and comfort of being inside, thanks to the recent surge in igloo dining!  Our Alpine Village is keeping up with this trend and igloos have popped up at the Alpine Tavern & Eatery and Treetops Resort. Enjoy your favorite eats with your favorite peeps as you gaze up at a million stars.  Reservations may be needed, so plan ahead!       

6.  Tune in to the Snowman Cam. Snow junkies can scope out the fluffy stuff in Gaylord 24 hours a day on snowmancam.com, a live feed from a snowbelt backyard. The weatherman is a snowman and often dons seasonal attire. The measurement tools are a dial thermometer and decorative snow ruler.  The real stars of the show are the local black bear, deer, porcupines, raccoons, wild turkey, squirrels and birds that make regular guest appearances. 


7.  Snowshoe in the Pigeon River Country State Forest.  If you’re in search of serenity and solitude, then Gaylord‘s “Big Wild” is the ultimate snowshoe destination.  Endless miles of ungroomed trails will take you along rolling hills and cascading rivers, affording glimpses of wildlife and untamed forestland. A few of our favorites are the Shingle Mill Pathway, Towerman’s Watch Trail and Green Timbers Trail

8.  Find a winter event to remember. Maybe your ideas for winter recreation are boundless…or maybe you’d like someone else to do the planning for you.  If you’re not sure how to spend your days outdoors, follow our event calendar for ideas!  Browse through wine and walk snowshoe trips, full gourmet skiable feasts, dog sled rides and frosty 5K’s to find winter experiences unique to our area. 

9.  Are you an angler that can’t get enough? Cut a hole in the hard stuff and start a great Gaylord winter tradition — drop a line and do some ice fishing on one of the 90+ lakes in Otsego County. For the most ambitious anglers, head to Otsego Lake where the elusive lake sturgeon can be found.   

10.  Ride the old fashioned way, in a horse-drawn open sleigh at Cook Family Farm.  Afterward, follow the delicious aroma of fresh-baked cookies and hot cocoa inside, complimentary with your sleigh ride. Or, bundle up and head for Treetops Resort where a magical sleigh ride awaits, followed by a four-course gourmet meal.  Reservations required at both venues. 


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