Snowriver, MI, to Install First and Only High-Speed Chairlift in Upper Peninsula

Nick DeRiso | | Industry NewsIndustry News
Snowriver to install the UP's first high speed chairlift
Combined, the three lifts to be replaced are 172 years old. Photo: Snowriver Mountain Resort

Snowriver Mountain Resort, located in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, has just announced its plans to install a new Doppelmayr six-passenger detachable chairlift ahead of the 2023-24 season at the Jackson Creek Summit area of the resort. Replacing three of the ski area’s original chairs installed in the 1960s: the Chippewa Double (installed in 1961), the Leelinaw Triple (1964), and the Voyager Quad (1969), the new six-pack will be the first of its kind and the only high-speed chairlift in Michigan’s UP.

The speedy new six-person chairlift will be named the Voyageur Express and transport guests to the top of Jackson Creek Summit in under four minutes, crushing the current base-to-summit ride time of 8-10 minutes. Equipped with 53 chairs and a travel speed of 1,000 feet per minute, the lift has an initial uphill capacity of 2,800 passengers per hour, which can be increased to an additional capacity of 3,200 if need be.

Snowriver will receive a new high speed 6 pack chair lift next season
Big Snow has transitioned to a new resort brand of Snowriver Mountain Resort, and the Blackjack and Indianhead base areas will be named after the two rivers flowing through the resort, Black River Basin (Blackjack) and Jackson Creek Summit (Indianhead). Photo: Ski Granite Peak

Though it won’t be installed until next season, the new lift line has already been cut and cleared. According to the Storm Skiing Journal, the new lift will start at the bottom of the Leelinaw triple and terminate at the top of the Chippewa double, rising 538 vertical feet in three-and-a-half minutes. The resort aims to provide an enhanced guest experience with easier access to lodging, service facilities, and dining options. 

Charles Skinner and his Midwest Family Ski Resorts acquired Big Snow Resort in August. They quickly renamed it Snowriver Mountain Resort, gave it a fresh new logo, and wasted no time pushing upgrades down the pipeline. In a press release announcing the new lifts, Skinner said:

“High-speed lifts are a perfect fit for our Midwest ski areas…Most skiers need to stop and rest every 500-700 vertical feet, about two-thirds of a mile, which happens to be the length of our runs. So, rather than stopping to rest on the side of the trail as is the case for most skiers on a longer Western slope, skiers at our resorts simply rest on the three-minute ride back up the mountain. High-speed lifts transform the ski experience at our resorts from spending most of the ski day riding the chairlift or waiting in line to enjoying most of the day skiing down the hill.”

Snowriver will be the first ski area in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to install a high-speed lift and will join The Highlands, Boyne Mountain, Bittersweet, Mt. Holly, and Crystal as the sixth ski area in the state to do so. Snowriver Resort is a sister resort to Granite Peak Ski Area, located in Wausau, Wisconsin, as well as Lutsen Mountains, located along the shores of Lake Superior in Minnesota. The ski area’s mission is to provide healthy outdoor recreation of the highest quality to Midwesterners, especially families.

Snowriver resort to get first high speed lift in Michigan's UP
This will be the sixth high-speed chairlift at Midwest Family Ski Resorts’ three properties. The Snowriver Moutain Resort Overall Plan. Courtesy of: Storm Skiing

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