Boyne’s Mountain Empire Built on Midwestern Roots

by Dan Giesin | February 21, 2024

A little more than 75 years ago, Everett Kircher went from selling cars to selling lift tickets when he carved out a little ski hill in the northern part of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula and dubbed it Boyne Mountain.

From that simple beginning, Kirchner and his family and heirs have built the third largest mountain resort company in North America, with 11 Alpine ski resorts in six states and one Canadian province. All told, Boyne Resorts operates 137 lifts providing access to more than 13,000 acres of skiable terrain from Maine to Washington.

Along the way Kirchner and Co. have made their mark on the international ski scene in several ways, including the installation of the world’s first triple chair (at The Highlands) and quad chair (at Boyne Mountain), both in 1964, and America’s first high-speed 6 pack (at Boyne) in 1992. The company was instrumental in bringing Swedish Olympic gold medalist Stein Ericksen and Austrian ski guru Othman Schneider to the United States in the 1950s to run its ski school at Boyne and Highlands.

And now Boyne Resorts is trying to mitigate its effect on the climate and environment with its Forever Project, which calls for moving to 100 percent renewable electric energy and reducing a significant portion of its carbon footprint to become carbon neutral by 2030.

Where the Goods Are

Here’s a closer look at the Boyne family of alpine resorts:

Boyne Mountain

Located near the northeastern shore of Lake Michigan, Boyne has gone from its original single chair (bought from Sun Valley in 1948 and, with regular upgrades, is still in use) to 10 lifts providing transportation up its 500 feet of vertical and over its 450 acres of skiable terrain. The base area is the site of Michigan’s largest water park, Avalanche Bay.

The Highlands

A few miles up the road from Boyne lies the company’s first ski hill acquisition, which also goes by the moniker the Highlands at Harbor Springs. The resort is a bit smaller (8 lifts over 435 acres) and a bit taller (552 vertical feet), but has the same family resort vibe as its neighbor.

Out West

Big Sky

One of the largest Alpine resorts in the country, covering 5,800 acres of Montana Rocky Mountains, Big Sky has a well-deserved reputation as a big-mountain skier and snowboarder kind of place. With 36 lifts, including a new 75-passenger tram that replaced the iconic 15-person conveyance to the top of Lone Peak this winter, its pretty easy to access most of the resort’s 4,350 feet of vertical playground.


Proud to be known as a “no frills” resort, you’ll find some of Utah’s best Wasatch powder at Brighton without a lot of hoopla. The mid-size ski hill at the east end of Big Cottonwood Canyon has six lifts proving riders access to 1,050 acres and 1,750 feet of vertical.

Cypress Mountain

About a half-hour north of Vancouver, British Columbia, sits one of the sites for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics as Cypress hosted the skicross and snowboardcross events. The ski hill has pretty good vertical (2,010 feet) for its modest size (600 acres) and its nine lifts make it easy to navigate the two-peak resort. 

The Summit at Snoqualmie

Located less than 90 minutes of Seattle, The Summit is comprised of four former small resorts that were sprinkled around the top of Snoqualmie Pass: Alpental, Snoqualmie Summit, Ski Acres and Hyak. Combined the Summit of Snoqualmie offers 1,914 skiable acres with 2,280 feet of vertical accessed by 19 lifts.

Back East

Loon Mountain

A recent addition to the Boyne family (it was purchased in 2018), Loon is spread over three peaks and 403 forested acres of New Hampshire’s White Mountains: North Peak, Loon Peak and South Peak. The drop from the top of North Peak to Loon’s base area is where you’ll find the most vertical, 2,190 feet.

Pleasant Mountain

One of three resorts in Maine owned by Boyne Resorts, it also the newest member of the family, having been purchased in 2022, when it was known, since 1988, as Shawnee Peak. Pleasant Mountain, which has the distinction of being Maine’s oldest ski hill, dating back to 1938, is a smallish area (5 lifts, 245 acres) with decent vertical (1,300 feet).


The giant, if you will, of Maine ski areas, Sugarloaf’s 1,360 acres of skiable terrain is the second largest of any ski resort west of the Mississippi. And it’s 2,820 foot of vertical is the second most in New England. All this is accessed by 12 lifts.

Sunday River

The second largest resort (870 acres) in Maine, Sunday River also has the second greatest vertical drop (2,340 feet) in the state, and its 135 trails across eight interconnect “peaks” is serviced by a network of 18 lifts.

Featured Resorts

More from the Blog