Skiing at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville, Michigan

One of the finest ski resorts in Michigan—or for that matter, all of the Midwest—is Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa (12500 Crystal Mountain Drive, Thompsonville). Although it's not the steepest or most difficult ski and snowboard area, it's a great place to learn the basics, and the amenities are the height of luxury.

Trail Variety and Difficulty

Crystal Mountain, which has only a 375-foot vertical drop, may be modest in size, but the resort makes up for the lack of height with quality. Indeed, the 45 trails are all very well maintained and diverse—25 percent of them are rated easy, 49 percent intermediate, and 26 percent difficult. I would slightly object to these ratings, and grade them as a bit easier that Crystal Mountain claims. However, this is more of an observation than a complaint.

In fact, the runs are all lots of fun, and there is even lighting on 27 of them for night skiing. And you don't have to wait long to get to the trails, since there are eight lifts, including the ultra-fast Crystal Clipper quad lift.

Pricing and Hours

A standard adult lift ticket is $55, or $85 if it includes a rental package. However, there are lots of ways to save money. For instance, early- and late-season passes are only $25, and kids 15 and under generally get a $10 discount. And best of all, kids 8 and under always ski for free.

The lifts operate from 9 a.m. all the way to 9 p.m. for most of the season. Early and late in the ski season, the starting time remains the same, but the end time gradually becomes earlier.

Luckily, Crystal Mountain has a long season for a Midwest resort. Since the area averages 130 inches of snow and they are equipped with a large arsenal of snow making guns, they usually stay open until the middle of April.

Lessons

While there are lots of different lesson programs offered at Crystal Mountain, they specialize in teaching kids how to ski. I'd recommend signing up your 7- to 12-year old in the Crystal Kids Ski and Snowboard Program. For $82, an experienced pro will spend a full day teaching your kid the basics, and this price includes equipment and even food.

Amenities

The skiing is very good at Crystal Mountain, but their lodging is truly great. They offer 250 units for rental, ranging from small yet nice hotel rooms to full houses.

And when you are taking a break from the slopes, there are tons of amenities to take advantage of. They have a spa, swimming pools, fitness center, and retail shops. It's these great extras that make a visit to Crystal Mountain a memorable experience, and not just a simple ski trip.

Floyd Saunders, a native of snowy Minnesota, has been a downhill and cross-country skier since childhood.

Note: This article was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Sign up here to start publishing your own sports content.

Updated Monday, Mar 12, 2012