There’s something about Western Montana that has a way of inspiring you to get outside and explore. It’s almost like the mountains are calling, quietly enticing you to play in their 300+ inches of annual snowfall, marvel at their majestic valleys and breathe in the crisp mountain air.
Western Montana’s Glacier Country is home to six well-rounded, full-service ski areas, ranging from a world-class resort to undiscovered, off-the-beaten path destinations, each with their own personality and offerings. And with plenty of light powder across nearly 7,000 acres of terrain, the skiing options in Big Sky Country are as vast as Montana’s big blue sky.
Anchoring the region is Whitefish Mountain Resort—home to 3,000 acres of skiable terrain, iconic snowghosts, incredible views of Glacier National Park and on-mountain lodging, dining and shopping. After a day making turns, round out the evening by kicking up your heels in downtown Whitefish—Montana’s premier mountain town.
For more downhill action, check out Montana Snowbowl. A short drive north of Missoula, Snowbowl is known for its deep powdery bowls, expert terrain and world-famous Bloody Marys and wood-fired pizza.
Hit terrain in both Montana and Idaho at Lookout Pass. Located just off I-90, this family friendly ski area is known for its 400+ inches of snowfall. Or if you’re looking for one of Montana’s best-kept secrets, visit Lost Trail Powder Mountain. Deep in the heart of the Bitterroot Valley, Lost Trail offers skiing on two mountains, complete with diverse terrain and light powder.
The wilds of wintered Montana are the perfect place to sled. It’s here—along groomed trails, snow-covered roads, frozen lakes and backcountry trails—that you can make high marks or simply play in a powdery meadow. And with 22,000 square miles to choose from, Glacier Country has plentiful terrain for varying skill levels.
A mixed blend of intermediate and expert trails can be found in the northern tier of Glacier Country, with riding destinations including Marias Pass Trail Complex, Flathead Valley and Kootenai Country. Recommended trails include Canyon Creek, Upper Whitefish Lake, Crane Mountain, Desert Mountain and Stryker Peak.
The southern tier offers thousands of miles of groomed trails, secondary trails and off-trail opportunities that practically beg to be ridden. Notable areas include Haugan, Lolo Pass and Seeley Lake, while popular trails include Big Creek, Lolo Trail System, Garnet Trail System, Double Arrow Lookout and Skalkaho Road.
Snowmobile rentals can be found throughout Western Montana, while Swan Mountain Snowmobiling and Rich Ranch offer snowmobiling tours led by experienced guides.
With trails and mountains galore, Glacier Country is a skate and cross-country skiing lover’s dream destination. This healthy, heart-friendly activity offers skiers a diverse selection of destinations that range from groomed trails at ski centers to ungroomed trails and backcountry treasures in national forests.
The northern tier of Western Montana welcomes skiers to established areas like Whitefish Mountain Nordic Center, Glacier Nordic Center, Izaak Walton Inn and Stillwater Mountain Lodge, while the Flathead National Forest provides plenty of options for intermittently groomed trails. Another not-to-be-missed destination: Glacier National Park. While it’s open year-round, winter in Glacier National Park is something few visitors see. Take advantage of the tranquility and glide along the Going-to-the-Sun Road or strap on snowshoes and trek along the shoreline at Lake McDonald.
In Glacier Country’s southern tier, skiers will find abundant cross-country and skate skiing options in the Bitterroot, Swan and Mission mountains. For established ski trails, head to Double Arrow Lodge and Seeley Creek Nordic Ski Trials in Seeley Lake or try your hand on the trails at Lolo Pass and Pattee Canyon National Recreation Area.
Small Town Charm
While outdoor recreation and jaw-dropping views take center stage during winter in Montana, Glacier Country is more than just a pretty face. For a proper helping of arts and culture, visit Missoula, Kalispell, Hamilton and Whitefish and peruse their local downtown areas. Each community is home to locally owned shops, galleries, boutiques, delectable dining and watering holes. Time it right and you’ll likely catch one of the area’s winter festivals or events.
After a day spent in the outdoors or picking out the perfect piece of art at a local gallery, lay your head at a cozy bed and breakfast, snuggle up at a mountain cabin or unwind at a hotel or luxury resort. Or if you’re looking to chase away the winter chills, take a soak at one of the area’s hot springs.