Powder. Crisp, bluebird skies. No crowds and short lift lines. These are just a few of the many claims to fame that draw skiers from across the world to Montana’s white winter slopes. With over 14,000 acres of designated downhill skiing terrain (that’s more than 10,000 football fields!), it’s easy to see why skiing in Montana is one of the state’s favorite winter pastimes. 65 lifts capable of moving 72,000 people per hour and 548 runs spreading across the state’s 16 ski areas is music to the ears of any snow-sport enthusiast. Although each of Montana’s ski areas is special in their own right, the following five resorts often attract the most attention.
As a longtime, local Montana favorite, situated just twenty minutes from downtown Bozeman, the non-profit Bridger Bowl consistently attracts attention for its big mountain terrain and affordable rates. In fact, Bridger Bowl’s prices are so reasonable that the ski area is frequently ranked as one of the nation’s top skiing values. But that’s not all. Bridger Bowl receives an average 350 inches of snow each year and is renowned for its cold smoke powder, long runs, and big bowls. Featuring 69 trails with the longest run at three miles, the area’s terrain is 25% beginner, 35% intermediate, 40% expert, and 30% of the mountain offers groomed runs. Bridger’s renowned “Ridge” boasts some of the most challenging, expert-only skiing found within any ski area boundary. The Ridge is accessible by a 400 vertical foot hike above the Bridger Lift. Their ski season operates early December through early April from 9 AM - 4PM daily.
Moonlight Basin is one of the newest ski areas to hit the Montana winter scene. It is conveniently located in the Big Sky area, just 45 miles south of Bozeman. Sharing the breathtaking Lone Peak with Big Sky Resort, Moonlight Basin showcases more than 76 runs with an average annual snowfall of 400 inches. They take pride in offering spectacular scenery along with spectacular amenities. In addition to challenging shoots, big bowls, long groomed runs, and a peak elevation of 11,166 feet, Moonlight Basin offers guests ski-in/ski-out lodging and a variety of slopeside dining. Skiers of all abilities are welcomed with 23% of the runs designed for beginners, 41% designated for intermediate skiers, and 36% reserved for those with expert skills. Experts are sure to get a thrill out of “The Headwaters” terrain and access to the North Summit Snowfields via the Lone Peak Tram. Moonlight Basin operates late November through mid April, from 9 AM to 4PM daily.
Big Sky Resort
Located just 45 miles south of Bozeman, you’ll find some of the biggest ski terrain in the nation. Originating under the direction of famous newscaster Chet Huntley, Big Sky Resort has grown into one of Montana’s most beloved and well-known ski areas. With 150 trails, a base elevation of 7,500 feet and peak elevation of 11,166 feet, this ski area offers plenty of room for skiers and snowboarders to imbibe the open air. An average 400 inches of snow greets winter enthusiasts along with a state-of-the-art, high-volume lift system that helps ensure short lift lines and more time on the slopes. The 3,600 acres of exceptional terrain is rated 17% beginner, 25% intermediate, and 58% expert with the longest run at just over 6 miles. Snowboarders and skiers alike will enjoy Big Sky’s terrain park featuring Montana’s first full-sized super pipe. With walls 18-feet tall and measuring 450 feet in length, it is bigger than any other pipe the Big Sky state has ever known. Big jumps, big air, and big pipe. Big Sky’s lodging and dining range from economy to luxury, and visitors will be pleased to find an eclectic mix of nightlife, pampering, and other outdoor adventures. Big Sky Resort operates from Thanksgiving to mid April from 9 AM to 4 PM daily.
Lone Peak Pass
Moonlight Basin and Big Sky Resort have recently teamed up to offer the biggest skiing in North America with the Lone Peak Pass. This joint ticket is your pass to more ski terrain than you’ll know what to do with on your next vacation. This single pass offers access to 5,512 acres of ski-able terrain, 220+ trails, chutes and bowls, and 4,330 vertical feet.
Red Lodge Mountain
Red Lodge Mountain is located outside the quaint town of Red Lodge, about one hour southwest of Billings. This beautiful resort is ranked highly in the skiing world for its exceptional value, customer-oriented attitude, and range of guest services. The newly expanded terrain features 71 trails and is rated 15% beginner, 55% intermediate, and 30% expert with the longest run at 2.5 miles. Receiving an annual snowfall average of 250 inches, Red Lodge is a big mountain that prides itself on offering family-friendly prices. Red Lodge Mountain is also recognized for its terrain park that features an assortment of rails, spines, step-ups, and table-tops. Red Lodge Mountain is open late November through mid-April from 9 AM to 4 PM daily.
Known as the quintessential northwest Montana ski area, Big Mountain is nestled 8 miles north of Whitefish (23 miles north of Kalispell) and is famous for its family-friendly approach that caters to skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels. They have an average annual snowfall of 300 inches and offer 91 runs with the longest run at 3.4 miles. Their terrain is enjoyed by a wide range of abilities with 20% of the mountain available for beginner, 50% intermediate, and 30% expert. Miles of groomed slopes, fresh powder, phenomenal views of nearby Glacier National Park, snow ghosts, and their relaxed atmosphere draw in skiers from across the world. The table-tops, berms, gap jumps, and major hits make their terrain park a snowboarding and twin-tipped enthusiasts’ preferred destination. Ski-in/ski-out lodging and dining are available along with a myriad of other winter recreational activities. Big Mountain is open late November through early May from 9 AM to 4:30 PM daily.
Whether you are planning a trip to one of these fine resorts or one of the other fantastic Montana skiing destinations, you can be sure you’ll enjoy your time in this winter wonderland. This year’s ski season is just around the corner and right now is the perfect time to start planning where you’re going to enjoy your Montana winter. Come experience the mountains and snow the Big Sky state is famed for. See you on the slopes!