Mackinac Island in January

If there were 3 words to describe Mackinac Island in January they would be quiet, peaceful, and snowy. While the new year starts off with a bang and features the Great Turtle Drop and New Year’s fun, it quickly transitions into serenity and stillness.

Like most of November-April, almost all of the businesses are closed on Mackinac Island, there are no attractions open, and the only public restrooms are at the Mackinac Island Ferry Company dock when the ferry is running. Speaking of the ferry, it runs as long as it can before the ice becomes too thick and then flying to Mackinac Island is recommended.

READ MORE: Things to Know About Mackinac Island in the Winter

Yes, you can still get to Mackinac Island in the winter to enjoy xc skiing trails, Chad’s Wonderful Winter Walking Tours, and the few restaurants that remain open year-round. January is a chance to enjoy the simplicity of Mackinac Island and see it in a totally different way than the summer season!

A Mackinac Island ferry boat with a Christmas tree in the bow pulls into the dock on a snowy winter day

If you’re not planning a trip to Mackinac Island in January, it’s a great time to begin planning for the upcoming year. With a finite number of rooms, availability can fill up quickly! We recommend booking a place to stay as soon as possible.

Mackinac Island Vacation Planning FAQs

WEATHER ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN JANUARY

January is one of the coldest and snowiest months of the year on Mackinac Island. Temperatures range from an average high of 26 degrees to a low of 12 degrees with an average of 26 inches of snow during the month.

Be sure to bring warm clothes such as thermals, winter jackets, snowpants, boots, hats, and gloves.

READ MORE: Winter weather on Mackinac Island

The sun sets on a snow-covered Mackinac Island bluff high above downtown shops and restaurants

GETTING TO MACKINAC ISLAND IN JANUARY

You can get to Mackinac Island in the winter by ferry or by airplane. Mackinac Island Ferry Company operates the winter ferry out of St. Ignace in the Upper Peninsula. It’s the “slow boat,” the Mighty Huron, and generally takes 45 minutes without ice and can take longer if there is ice on the water.

The ferry runs as long as it can continue to break through the ice in the winter season. January is also the time of the year when the schedule changes to 3 ferry trips a day, 6 days a week. For an updated ferry schedule visit the Mackinac Island Ferry Company website or call them at 1-800-638-9892

Keep in mind that winter weather is unpredictable and sometimes the ferry cannot run because of high winds or too much ice.

Passengers board an airplane at Mackinac Island airport on a snowy winter day

Another way to get to Mackinac Island in the winter is by flying. Fresh Air Aviation offers taxi flights from the St. Ignace Airport to Mackinac Island Airport that take about 7 minutes total. Flights are determined on an as-needed basis, so call to schedule your flight ahead of time at 906-285-6727. North Country Aviation offers another way to get to Mackinac Island with chartered flights. Visit their website for more information.

Similar to the ferry, weather is a big factor for flying, meaning flights can be cancelled unexpectedly. If you fly in, we highly recommend arranging a horse-drawn Mackinac Island taxi to take you downtown as the airport is 2 miles from winter hotels. Call the Mackinac Island Taxi Service at 906-847-3323.

Tips for flying to Mackinac Island

In addition to taking the ferry or flying, you may have heard about getting to Mackinac Island using the ice bridge in the winter. Like many city organizations and businesses, we will not provide updates nor information on the status, location, or details about the ice bridge because of how unsafe it is. Using the ice bridge is “riding at your own risk” and should be considered with extreme caution. Snowmobiles on Mackinac Island require a DNR trail permit that can be ordered online or purchased at mainland gas stations. Mackinac Island does not have designated snowmobile trails as snowmobiles are used for transportation and not leisure by locals.

A horse-drawn taxi moves down a snow-covered Mackinac Island street in winter

WHAT’S OPEN ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN JANUARY

Aside from New Year’s weekend, Mackinac Island is pretty quiet in January. While most businesses are closed until the end of April, there are a select few that stay open throughout the winter season. Typically, there are…

Mackinac Island State Park is also open year-round and features groomed XC skiing trails and snowshoeing during the winter including the Twilight Turtle Trek.

If your favorite Mackinac Island stores are closed, you can still shop local by visiting them online!

GET THE LATEST INFORMATION ON WHAT’S OPEN ON MACKINAC ISLAND DURING THE WINTER

ACTIVITIES ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN JANUARY

Like any small town, there are a variety of activities that take place on Mackinac Island in the winter. Weekly trivia at the local bar, bingo at community hall, bread making classes, basketball games at the high school, and more! These activities are generally attended by locals and not widely promoted. If you’d like more information on activities in the winter season, call our office at 906-847-3783.

READ MORE: What it’s like to live on Mackinac Island year round

EVENTS ON MACKINAC ISLAND IN JANUARY

The big event is the Great Turtle Drop, similar to the ball drop, on New Year’s Eve. While this event is technically at the end of December, we thought we should include it here because families and friends often make a long weekend out of the New Year’s events.

Also in January, the first Great Turtle Twilight Trek usually takes place. Sponsored by Mackinac State Historic Parks, the Mackinac Island Community Foundation, and the Mackinac Island Ski Club, the event features 2-miles of lantern lit groomed trails for XC skiing and snowshoeing as well as a bonfire and hot chocolate.

Snowmobiles line Mackinac Island's downtown as a hockey game is played in the middle of the street

ADDITIONAL THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT MACKINAC ISLAND IN JANUARY

  • Unfortunately, there is not a place to rent XC skis or snowshoes on Mackinac Island. You’ll have to bring your own or rent them from the mainland
  • While snowmobiles are allowed on Mackinac Island, they are meant for transportation and not recreation. If you are coming to Mackinac Island with a snowmobile, you will need a DNR snowmobile pass that can be obtained in St. Ignace. If you have questions about the ice bridge, please see the information listed above under “Getting to Mackinac Island in January.”
  • You can get stuck on Mackinac Island due to weather. It doesn’t happen often, but it’s happened before. If the ferry can’t break through the ice and the weather is too bad to fly, you could spend an extra day (or two) on the Island. Just keep this in mind when planning a “quick trip.”
  • There are no public restrooms in the winter season. Mackinac Island Ferry Company has a restroom available at their dock as long as the ferry is running. There are restrooms in the restaurants but we recommend grabbing a bite to eat or a drink if you are going to use those.
  • Being a May-October destination, Mackinac Island is very different in the winter season than the summer season. Please thoroughly check our Mackinac Island winter page to find out what’s open and for up to date details.
  • January is a great time to start planning for the upcoming season. Booking a place to stay as early as possible is always recommended because there is a finite number of rooms on Mackinac Island.
  • Most storefronts are closed and businesses are in their “off” season. If you call or email, you might experience a delay of businesses getting back to you if you have urgent questions.

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