Great Lakes Air operates
out of a small modern building where they also provide service to other
aircraft passing through the Straits area. When I arrived at the Mackinac
County Airport about 25 minutes before the 10AM flight, a couple of men
were already waiting for the flight. I paid for a round trip ($44 that
winter). Great Lakes Air never asked for my name and identification or
said anything about restrictions on what items could be transported on
Island is visited by hundreds of thousands of people a year, far fewer
than 1% of Mackinac Island's tourists visit Mackinac Island in Winter.
Arnold Transit offers limited scheduled ferry service until the ice stops
them from running (usually sometime in early to mid January).
There may be a few
weeks during the winter when it is possible to get to Mackinac Island from
St. Ignace by crossing the ice on cross country skis or snowmobile. But
the St. Ignace "ice bridge" is not sanctioned by the Coast Guard or the
Mackinac County Sheriff's Department. Every few years someone dies while
attempting to cross the ice bridge.
The best way to get
to Mackinac Island in the winter is flying with Great Lakes Air,
which operates out of the Mackinac County Airport in St. Ignace,
Michigan. Great Lakes Air has three 5 passenger airplanes that are available
for charter ($28 per adult, with two person minimum), or by 5 daily scheduled
flights (only during the weeks when ferries are not running) for $25 each
way. Children under 13 are half fare. No reservations are necessary for
the scheduled flights, but you better arrive early, because Great Lakes
Air's plane may be in the air by the time they are officially scheduled
Lakes Air 2014 Winter Schedule
Effective January 2, 2014
Departures are from
Mackinac County Airport in St. Ignace at 8AM, 10AM, 12:30PM, 3PM and 4:45PM
daily (no 8AM fight on Sunday). Return flights from Mackinac Island are
10 minutes later.
The following trip
report and photos are from Keith Stokes' winter day trip to Mackinac Island
on March 29, 2008. Keith's other trips in the United States and occasionally
around the world are available here.
Saturday, March 29
was forecast to be sunny with a high of about 37 degrees and light winds
- just about perfect for this time of year. I drove over the Mackinac Bridge
from Mackinaw City about 9:30 AM. The Straits of Mackinac was beautiful
with blue skies, ice cover and bright sunlight. As I approached the Mackinac
County Airport, I called the taxi service operated by Mackinac Island Carriage
Tours, to arrange for a taxi to meet my flight.
The phone number for
the Mackinac Island taxi is (906) 847-3323.
'09 Mackinaw City winter trip report
Mackinac Island Summer Day Trip
Tahquamenon Falls Trip Report
Mackinaw in winter
One more person arrived
for the flight, and we were led out to the single engine Piper Cherokee
Six. It took only a couple of minutes for us to board, and we were in the
air before 10AM. The flight to Mackinac Island is very short. If you know
where to look, the end of one runway can be seen from the end of the other.
But I did have time to snap a few quick pictures of the Mackinac Bridge
in the distance.
Great Lakes Air's Piper airplane at the Mackinac Island Airport terminal.
Mackinac Island airport parking lot.
At the smaller Mackinac Island airport, it was
about 10 minutes before the horse drawn taxi arrived. I was the only passenger,
and sat next to the driver. I had never met the driver before, but he had
lived on Mackinac Island all of his life, and I enjoyed talking about Mackinac
Island, Mackinaw City, and people that we both knew. He was the only taxi
driver operating on this day.
Horse drawn taxi.
The taxi ride into the Village of Mackinac Island was
on snow and ice packed roads that we shared with snowmobiles. The horses
were obviously very used to the snowmobiles and didn't shy from them. The
road is starting to get sloppy with the spring thaw and would only get
worse over the next few weeks. The fare between the airport and downtown
Mackinac Island is $6.50 with a 2 fare minimum, so I had to pay $13. It
took about 10 minutes to travel the mile and a half to the downtown.
Passing the Grand Hotel on the way to downtown Mackinac Island. (prints
& cards of this photo)
Getting out of the taxi, I immediately fell on the slippery
ice and my legs started to slide under the carriage. After picking my self
up, I made my way to a step where I could sit down and pull rubbers on
over my shoes. Even with the much better traction of the slip-ons, I fell
a couple of more times during my visit.
Mackinac Island's Market Street with Fort Mackinac in the distance
Turtle sculpture on a fence post at the French Outpost
The Little Stone Church is a Congregational Church which was built
in 1904. It is closed in the winter.
Keith Stokes travel reports
Copyright 2001 - 2014 by Keith
Stokes. These photos may not be reproduced without
written permission. .