Porcupine Mountains Winter Sports Complex opens for season with management changes
ONTONAGON, Mich. (WLUC) - Under cloudy skies and mild weather, the Porcupine Mountains Winter Sports Complex opened for the season on Friday.
This is the first year that the Michigan Department of Natural Resources (MDNR) is in charge of managing the complex’s operations. Starting in 2012, it was operated through a partnership between both the MDNR and Gogebic Community College.
“The park ran the hill from 1950 until 2003, and then it went private for a while,” said Porcupine Mountains Park Manager Michael Kanck. “The park’s staff is primarily running all the outside operations now, overseeing the day-to-day management of the hill. We did partner with a concessionaire, Simple Adventures, and they are doing all the inside operations. They’re running the kitchen, the grill, the rental, and the gift shop inside as well.”
Last week’s winter storm also impacted the hill, resulting in snow across all 14 runs.
“The snow had a lot of air in it, so it’s a little thinner than we’d like it to be, but all the runs are open,” continued Kanck. “We had a great turnout, we got a lot of skiers to show up today, all three parking lots are full and long lines at the ticket window.”
According to the MDNR, the turnout of customers is bigger than anticipated, with holiday traffic to the U.P. a contributor.
Some of these visitors are from further across the country.
“I’m skiing here, and my family’s over there,” said customer Connor Mackenzie. “We are here for a family trip from Texas, actually.”
Others are planning on spending time to ski with their families.
“I’m going to be hanging out with my family,” said customer Maia Prete. “And having fun skiing since this is my first time this season.”
And still others are enjoying the hill with the new year in mind.
“Me and some of my friends wanted to do a ski trip for New Year’s,” said customer Emma Wilbur. “So, we came and are staying in a cabin around here and are going to ski today and tomorrow.”
The complex is also offering a lantern snowshoe walk on weekends starting in January.
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