Winter on Mackinac Island

Winter on Mackinac Island is almost spiritual. On an island, no cars or trucks, only horses and snowmobiles for transportation. The tourists have gone, the shops are closed. The island, like mother nature, is fast asleep.

The snow falls and covers the ground with a white blanket. The Christmas lights come on and adorn the houses and stores with their holiday splendor. Those in the know come to Mackinac Island at Christmastime to enjoy the peace and serenity that mirrors the holiday phrase, "Peace on Earth, Goodwill Towards Men." The ferry still runs at Christmas, and a few hotels and boarding houses are open for the holidays.

The holidays pass, and winter covers the island with snow. Lots of snow. Island natives snowmobile to and from their destinations. Depending on how cold the winter is, Lake Huron freezes sometime in February between St. Ignace and the Island. The Ice Bridge is marked with Christmas trees and open for travel. For many islanders, the ice bridge brings civilization closer to home, allowing quick passage by "snow sled" across the five miles of ice.

For snowmobile and cross-country ski enthusiasts, few places offer the distinctive experience of the Island in winter. Traveling on state highways and city streets and woods trails, the entire island awaits the adventurous. You can bring your snowmobile across by ferry before the lake freezes, or ride across the ice (if you're brave). Cross-country skiers can gain access to the Island via ferry or by airplane (Great Lakes Air, St. Ignace, 906-643-7165) and take a horse-drawn carriage from the airport to their destination.

Residents and vacationers can snowmobile around town, parking the sled outside the front door. Sort of reminds one of a mechanical horse hitched to a rail, waiting to take a rider to the next destination. There are restaurants open on the island, providing food and beverage for the hungry and thirsty. They're not hard to find - just look for the snowmobiles parked out front!

The Northern Lights condominiums in the Applewood building at Stonecliffe are available for winter rental at off-season rates. There's nothing like sitting in front of a warm fire after a day of exploring the island and watching the snowflakes waft down. Or the sunset on a crystal clear winter evening, as the snow sparkles with the reflection of the setting sun. St. Ignace and the Mackinac Bridge light up the night sky, with the stars shining brightly overhead. And if you're lucky, the Aurora Borealis will make an appearance.

Yes, there's nothing like Mackinac Island in the winter.