As winter sets in, so does cabin fever. Thankfully, there are plenty of outdoor recreational activities available after the cold temperatures set in. One of the longest-standing winter recreation destinations, Cannonsburg Ski Area, proves just that.

A West Michigan favorite for more than 55 years, Cannonsburg Ski Area offers fun activities all year round for the family, but their most popular activities take place in the winter.

Featuring nine lifts and 21 runs, Cannonsburg offers lessons for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels, including beginners and even the advanced. Cannonsburg also offers separate classes for children aged 6-12 on the weekends beginning in January. All classes are taught by certified Level 1, 2, and 3 ski and snowboard instructors.

My family has taken lessons there before. The instructor gave us a refresher and helpful pointers, after we’d been away from the slopes for a while. Here were our biggest takeaways from the lesson:

Cannonsburg Ski Area offers private and group lessons for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.
Cannonsburg Ski Area

Cannonsburg Ski Area offers private and group lessons for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels.

Photo by Cannonsburg Ski Area

Private Lesson Experience

On the day we booked our lesson, there was no snow on the ground in Grand Rapids. No problem there, though, because Cannonsburg manufactures their own snow as long as temperatures are in the low 20s.

When the lesson began, the ski instructor asked us about our previous ski experience (if any), and what areas we’d like to improve on.

After a quick chat, we took on the beginner “bunny” hill to learn the basics. The ski instructor provided personal one-on-one coaching to all participants. Although we were at different skill levels, we all received great advice and tips for excelling our ski skills and building confidence.

On Cannonsburg’s bunny hill, we used the magic carpet, a conveyor belt that carries riders up the hill; there are also rope tows available. Later, we progressed to the bigger hills.

By the time the lesson wrapped up, our instructor had not only helped us remember things we’d forgotten after a couple of years away from the hills, but also offered new tips that helped us become more confident, nuanced skiers.

Where Is Cannonsburg Ski & Ride Area?

Cannonsburg Ski & Ride Area is conveniently located about 15 miles northeast of downtown Grand Rapids, making it a great destination for locals and visitors who want to experience outdoor fun without a long trek in the car. Bonus: there’s ample free parking!

All Cannonsburg classes are taught by certified Level 1, 2, and 3 ski and snowboard instructors.
Cannonsburg Ski Area

All Cannonsburg classes are taught by certified Level 1, 2, and 3 ski and snowboard instructors.

Photo by Cannonsburg Ski Area

Who Should Go and What to Expect

Because they work with a wide range of ski levels, instructors can get beginners started and help intermediate and advanced skiers hone their skills. Our instructor likened it to riding a bike, assuring us there's a lot of muscle memory involved so it's easy for people who haven't skied in awhile to pick it back up.

With easy chairlifts, the magic carpet, tow ropes, and lots of hills, Cannonsburg is a fantastic local option for skiing and snowboarding. Cannonsburg offers a variety of lessons, and the instructors are friendly, knowledgeable, and good with kids of all ages.

Beginners can expect instruction from the get-go. They’ll help make sure your boots fit correctly and that the straps are right. They’ll also instruct you on how to put skis on in the snow and how to slide the skis along on flat ground. You’ll learn about body position, how to use the magic carpet or tow rope, and then you’ll start learning how to ski down the hill—and stop at the bottom.

More advanced skiers learn more advanced tactics, like how to do dynamic parallel turns—the instructors will customize each lesson based on your skills and interests. There are even a few who teach ski tricks.

Stop by Cannonsburg Ski Area's restaurant for food and drinks.

Stop by Cannonsburg Ski Area's restaurant for food and drinks.

Photo by Cannonsburg Ski Area

Insider Tips

Arrive Early!

Cannonsburg is a popular local ski hill, and lines can be long during peak times and on the weekends.

If you need to rent equipment, consider arriving at least 45-60 minutes early so you have plenty of time to find the ticket counter (it’s at the far left of the building, as you’re facing it), get your skis, put your gear in a locker, and then walk over to the ski school to locate your instructor.

If you already own equipment, arriving 30 minutes early should be sufficient.

Book in Advance

Although it’s possible to walk up and book a lesson, ski lessons are very popular, so you’re not guaranteed that an instructor will be available. It’s preferable to call and schedule a lesson at least a few days in advance.

Call 616-874-6711, and ask for the “ski and ride desk” to reach the ski school. You can also email lessons@cannonsburg.com.

Relax While You Wait

Cannonsburg has a full-service bar, snack bar, and the Cedar Lounge restaurant, which are great places to grab a drink and a bite to eat. They’ve also opened The Sweet Spot, which offers beverages for adults and kids, and Burgie’s food truck is on site, which has plenty of warm and delicious food choices. Indoor bathrooms are open, as are outdoor porta potties.

Chair lifts, tow ropes, and a variety of hills make Cannonsburg Ski Area fun for all ages and skill levels.

Chair lifts, tow ropes, and a variety of hills make Cannonsburg Ski Area fun for all ages and skill levels.

Photo by Cannonsburg Ski Area

How Much Does It Cost?

Lift ticket prices at Cannonsburg vary depending on the day of the week, time of day, and age of the skier or snowboarder.  You can also rent essential equipment, like skis, a snowboard, or a helmet.

Visit Cannonsburg's website to see their fees for lift tickets and equipment rentals.

If interested, Cannonsburg also sells season passes, starting at $379 for an individual.

Punch passes, which can save you 50 percent off the regular lift ticket prices, are also available for ages seven and older. The punch pass allows you to pre-pay and punch your card as you go, for great convenience.

When Is It Open?

Available during winter months (usually December through March), the ski and snowboard hill hours are:

  • Monday to Friday: 12 PM – 9 PM
  • Saturday and Sunday: 9 AM – 9 PM
Cannonsburg's zip line provides summer fun for the whole family.

Cannonsburg's zip line provides summer fun for the whole family.

Photo by Cannonsburg Ski Area

What Happens at Cannonsburg When the Weather Is Warmer?

Come spring, summer, and fall, you can zip through the treetops at Cannonsburg with Cannonsburg’s Zipline Adventure Tour. The tour spans five zip lines, which range from 300 to 600 feet, costs $45, and generally takes between an hour to an hour and a half to complete. You can also rent a GoPro for $35 to capture exciting zipline memories!

You can also access Cannonsburg’s trails for free during the warmer months. People can hike, bike, run, or walk the 11 miles of trails, with varying terrain. You can even bring your dog!

Cannonsburg Ski Area holds frequent events, all year round including ski races, weddings, and group parties.

Cannonsburg Ski Area holds frequent events, all year round including ski races, weddings, and group parties.

Photo by Cannonsburg Ski Area

Special Events

Cannonsburg does allow rentals for weddings and other events. They also offer a variety of fun events for visitors of all ages, including:

  • Ski race teams
  • Mountain Minnies program for girls ages three to five
  • Igloos for rent! For $50/hour, you can rent an igloo with a space heater, where 8-10 people can gather comfortably. You can bring your own food or buy it there. Alcohol must be purchased through Cannonsburg. Call the office for reservations and details.
  • In the past, Cannonsburg has also held events like Align and Wine (yoga and wine), Sipping on the Slopes (wine tasting), and the Cannonsburg Cup fat bike race. Call, email info@cannonsburg.com, or check Cannonsburg’s website for event details and new seasonal events.

What Does Cannonsburg Offer Besides Skiing and Snowboarding?

Tubing

Cannonsburg’s hills are also a great place for tubing during the winter months. Tubing is popular with kids and adults, alike, and the magic carpet makes it convenient for all riders above 42” tall.

Tubing costs $18/person for a two-hour pass during the week and $23/person for a two-hour pass during the weekend.

Wednesday through Friday, tubing is open from 4 PM - 9 PM. On weekends, tubing hours are 10AM – 9PM.

Trails

In addition to their hills, Cannonsburg has a great trail system. During the winter, the groomed trails are perfect for cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, hiking, and snowshoeing. There’s a $5/day usage fee, or you can buy a season trail pass for $35.

Keep in mind that Cannonsburg doesn’t manufacture snow on the trails. Snow is only manufactured on the skiing and snowboarding hills. During the summer, trail use is free.

Cannonsburg also has fat tire bikes available for rent. Bikes can be rented for two hours or for all-day use. Helmet rentals are also available.

Check out Cannonsburg's on-site Summit Sports Shop to purchase skiing and snowboarding equipment.

Check out Cannonsburg's on-site Summit Sports Shop to purchase skiing and snowboarding equipment.

Photo by Cannonsburg Ski Area

Summit Sports Shop at Cannonsburg

If you’re in the market to buy ski or snowboard equipment, check out the Summit Sports Shop on-site. The shop carries a fantastic selection and the staff can help you determine which gear best fits your needs.

For a great deal on used gear, shop Summit Sports’ ski swap, which is typically held in early November. Their Junior Trade-In Program is a great value for parents whose kids ski year after year.

“A lot of people feel like they don’t like winter because it isn’t fun,” says Harrier. “But the important thing is to get out there and find something you like to do. It can change your mind about winter!”

The ski and snowboarding instructors at Cannonsburg are ready to help you embrace the cold!

What’s your favorite winter activity? Let us know in the comments.

Cannonsburg's COVID Guidelines

Face coverings are not currently required. The lodge, Cedar Lounge restaurant, and snack bar are all scheduled to be open this season. However, Cannonsburg will follow any active guidelines regarding COVID. Be sure to call before you and find out the most current status regarding precautions at the ski slopes.