Snow Bowl – Houghton Lake

In a Consumers Power brochure from about 1959, this area is described as being 4 miles south of the intersection of M-55 and US-27 and 1.5 miles west of US-27. It had 16 runs, 9 rope tows, instruction, snowmaking and a lodge with rentals, ski shop and snack bar. On Dec. 24, 1959, The Luddington Daily News listed the Houghton Lake Snow Bowl with a 4 to 6″ base and fair to good skiing. On Feb. 10, 1961, the same paper had them with 3″ fresh powder over a 4″ base with good skiing. On Jan. 4, 1968, The Cass City Chronicle printed the AAA Guide to Winter Sports Fun in Michigan which listed  Snow Bowl with 27 runs, 13 tows, and snowmaking. Later that year, the Detroit Free Press on October 27, 1968 listed Snow Bowl among 7 ski areas that would cease operation that year.

Memorialized by Snow Bowl Road, which crosses US-27 south of Houghton Lake, the area seems to have been on a ridge of small hills at the south end of Barney Lake, about a mile west of US-127. There is a Snow Bowl Rd. exit. On the satellite, you can identify the remains of the trails.

On June 12, 2012, Ralph Matheson sent us a scan of a brochure from Snow Bowl he says he found years ago in the 70’s on a trip to the area for hill-climbing. He says the resort was still there, but trashed. I assume he means the structures were still standing. I’m not sure of the date of the brochure, so if you know, please help us out.

Snow Bowl Brochure

Snow Bowl Brochure-reverse

If you have any information about skiing at Snow Bowl, please post it or follow the instructions on the About page to send it to us.

18 Responses to Snow Bowl – Houghton Lake

  1. CK says:

    Here are the coords for Snow Bowl – Houghton Lake
    44°16’18.01″N, 84°50’3.84″W notice how the surrounding roads are Bowlin &
    Snowbowl Rd. on Google Earth. I have other coords for ski areas & old brochures on
    some of the ski areas you have listed, I’ll be glad to share those later!!
    Really nice website, happy to see someone else interested in Midwest Lost ski areas.
    I have worked at some of those midwest ski areas – very fond memories!!

  2. mark says:

    I know the area very well; we had a cabin on the Muskegon River back in the 60’s thru 2008. I grew up there as a kid and it was a great area for dirt biking and the the ski lodge was abandoned. It was an awesome place for hill climbing and riding. The place was packed on weekends and especially holiday weekends I know the place is all fenced off now, looks like it’s been sold off. I have a lot of great memories spendind time there with my dad.

  3. Brad "Hoser" Miller says:

    Spent most of my Summers at my grandparents cabin in Prudenville. In the mid to later 60s, long before I knew what skiing was, my Dad got a gig painting the outside of the Snow Bowl lodge. Although pretty young I remember my grandpa coming down his ladder like a rabid raccoon covered in Yellow Jackets.

    Skiing had a pretty big competitor just hitting stride at Houghton Lake, Snow Mobiles ruled the frozen waves of Michigans big inland lake for years to come.

    Brad”Hoser” Miller
    PSIA-C alpine ed staff
    Coach TC Central

  4. Clark Harder says:

    I can remember driving out to Snow Bowl with my father when I was a young boy in the early 1960s. We would go to our summer cottage at Houghton Lake during the local Tip Up Town festival on the ice, just for a day. A time or two we drove out to Snow Bowl and it was a very busy place in those days. The lodge building was painted a bright yellow with brown trim. I never realized it had as many runs as advertised in the information above. I believe the place went bankrupt in the late 1960s, probably due to a lack of good snowfall that far inland as this was just a bit south and east of the northern Michigan “snow belt.” The other problem, I think, is that larger and better ski resorts opened to the northwest of Houghton Lake. I am pretty sure the place was closed prior to the early 1970s when I began driving and exploring the area surrounding Snow Bowl for myself. I do recall seeing the No Trespassing signs and the buildings boarded up in the early to mid 70s and there were still some tow lines and equilpment visible for many years. Today the area has become more developed with homesites sold around Barney Lake and the surrounding woods. I will have to search and see if I have any old photos taken when the resort was operating. I may.

  5. David Stewart says:

    Our family rented a small cabin on the lake shore,but now I ‘m not sure where it was.It was’nt as chrowded like it is now. I rememered going to the general store had a totem pole in front, we still have photos of it. Maybe it was’nt to far from the ski lodge.

  6. Mark says:

    I have an old original film during theconstruction of Snow Bowl. My father, from Cadillac, helped design the ski runs and was the acting manager it’s first year of operation. Professionally he was a full-time petroleum geologist but was very active in Michigans Ski Scene. The film is in my library and I believe it’s an 8 mm film. I should mention my dad is 86 and still skis!

  7. Mark says:

    My father believes it was 1959-1960 when the trails were cut out through the woods.

  8. Paul says:

    We found some old 8mm film of my grandparents skiing at snow bowl. It’s one of those family memories that we had put on DVD.

  9. Chuck Chaltron says:

    I have an original “road” sign from the Houghton Lake Snow Bowl ski resort. I’m sure that if you skied the resort, you would remember the road sign. White background with floresent orange paint.
    I got it while hunting on the property in 1971. The place was closed by then, but the area was open for hunting. I shot my first and only deer that November opening day 1971. A 9 pointer.

  10. Gustave Walter Rayl says:

    Fond memories of grade school friends gathering on evening ski nights and skiing the Barney Lake run and the long rope tows ( two) to get back to the top. Day trips on the lodge side were thrilling to a small novice skier. In the ’70’s long after the park had been closed, teens would hike and toboggan the “old Baldy” hill.

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