They named it Glacier National Park for a reason. Skewering the clear blue sky along the U.S.-Canadian border in Northwest Montana, the mountains of the picturesque park typically get buried in so much winter powder that many of them remain white-capped all year-round. This is America’s true winter wonderland — even in the months when most parts of the country are basking in the warmth of spring and early summer.
As anyone who has been here knows, the marvels for which Glacier National Park is celebrated don’t suddenly stop at the park’s borders. The rugged Bob Marshall Wilderness Area, the world-class ski resort at Whitefish Mountain and the scenic Flathead Valley — home to Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi River — all sit at the threshold of the park, providing visitors with endless recreation, sightseeing and cultural opportunities through every season.
To the north, visible from downtown Kalispell, the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort beckon skiers and snowboarders of every skill level and interest. Formerly known as Big Mountain (and for good reason), the resort features 2,353 feet of vertical drop spread out over more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain served by nine chairlifts and three surface lifts. A two-time host of the U.S. Alpine Championships, Whitefish Mountain is celebrated for its scenic vistas, seemingly endless terrain and haunting stands of “snow ghosts.”
For a more low-key atmosphere, powder hounds can turn to the region’s two smaller ski areas, Blacktail Mountain and Turner Mountain. Nestled in the mountains a short drive from Kalispell, Blacktail features more than 1,000 acres of mostly intermediate runs, all served by four lifts. Blacktail also offers several miles of groomed Nordic skiing … perfect for a winter skiing biathlon of sorts. Turner Mountain, located just outside the blue-collar community of Libby, is a true mom-and-pop operation where the lifties are sure to remember your name. And how’s this for getting away from it all: You can even rent out the area midweek (it’s only open to the public Thursdays through Sundays) for your own private ski mountain!