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Montana Ski &Snowboard Resort Guide

Most people know that winter in Montana is cold, often very cold. A lot of people don’t know how all of that cold makes for lots of very light powder snow that falls on the northern Rocky Mountains. Skiing and snowboarding in Montana offers great snow and lots of challenging terrain.

With the exception of Big Sky and Whitefish, there are not huge, developed ski areas in Montana, which makes the ski and snowboard areas here a dream for locals and visiting powder hounds alike. Many of the ski and snowboard areas in Montana are small community mountains with an old school feel. These mountains like Great Divide, Lost Trail, and Discovery are truly family run and local focused. Good vibes aside, this usually means no lift lines, and untouched powder long after storms. They may not have extravagant lodging or villages, but they beg for a road trip.

On the flip side, Big Sky is the most well known ski and snowboard area in Montana, and it offers all of the amenities and niceties of other large western United States ski and snowboard resorts. There are other great mountains spread across the state, too, like Bridger Bowl, which is a favorite of Bozeman locals and students at the Montana State University (which is known for being one of the best colleges in the United States for skiing and snowboarding).

Montana Ski Resorts Map

Whitfish Mountain Resort

Whitefish Ski and Snowboard Area
Photo: Whitefish Mountain Resort

Whitefish is an awesome ski and snowboard resort located in northwestern Montana, just outside of the town of Whitefish, and a 40 minute drive from Kalispell. The closest airport sits between these two towns. The mountain itself is awesome because of the laid back vibes and great terrain. There is a solid selection of terrain for everyone, from beginners to experts alike. At 3,000 skiable acres the resort much bigger than most ski areas in Montana. A nice compliment of lodging options slopeside, and in the town of Whitefish make Whitefish Mountain Resort a great destination for skiers and snowboarders looking for great riding and big ski area amenities, but still off the beaten path.

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Big Sky

Big Sky Ski and Snowboard Area
Photo: Jeff Engerbretson
Skier: Amie Engerbretson

Big Sky is located in southwest Montana between the city of Bozeman and Yellowstone National Park. Big Sky is perhaps the most well known ski and snowboard area in Montana, and one of the best. At 3,832 acres the ski and snowboard resort is huge, with one of the biggest vertical drops in the United States at 4,366’. The famous Lone Peak Tram accesses the 11,168’ peak, and some big, steep, and gnarly terrain. Experts will love this part of the mountain. Meanwhile, the lower mountain has great intermediate and beginner terrain. The addition of Moonlight Basin, formerly a separate area has added even more terrain to explore, as well as the best terrain parks in Montana. The Big Sky Village has a range of lodging and dining, this is a great place to stay for longer ski and snowboard vacations.

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Bridger Bowl

Just outside of the town of Bozeman, Bridger Bowl is one of the best ski and snowboard areas in Montana. It’s not as big as Whitefish or Big Sky, however Bridger’s terrain stacks up nicely for skiers and snowboarders of all ability levels. Although most of the best terrain at the mountain requires a short hike, this helps keep the snow better for longer after a storm, and rewards those willing to work for their turns. The hike to terrain is steep, and technical, a good challenge for all skiers and snowboarders.Bridger Bowl is a major attraction to the nearby Montana State University, with it’s proximity allowing students to ski and snowboard before or after class. The mountain has a friendly feel and great terrain all around.

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Great Divide

Great Divide Ski and Snowboard Area

Located about a 40 minute drive outside of the Montana capitol, Helena, Great Divide Ski and Snowboard Area offers 1,600 acres of skiable terrain. The ski and snowboard resort is one of the cheapest resorts in Montana, making it great for families, and those on a budget. The terrain is nice for intermediate skiers. Advanced skiers will find some fun terrain at Great Divide, too. The Wild West area is full of glades, while The Wide Open run in the Rawhide Gulch area has exposed bowl skiing and snowboarding.
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Showdown Montana

About an hour out of Great Falls, Showdown Montana is a nice little old-school ski and snowboard resort in central Montana. Showdown is the oldest ski and snowboard area in Montana, and known for its friendly locals and staff. Three chairlifts and a conveyor access the mountain’s 1,400’ of vertical and 640 skiable acres. All of the terrain is below treeline.

Lost Trail

Lost Trail ski and snowboard area

Lost Trail Powder Mountain is another cool, small Montana ski and snowboard area. The mountain prides itself on being family run and family friendly. Lost Trail serves up 1,800 skiable acres accessed by five double chairs and three ropetows. The mountain is located two hours south of Missoula and two hours west of Butte. There is some fun terrain to be had for everyone at this sweet little local mountain.
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Blacktail Mountain

Three chairlifts and a tow handle access Blacktail Mountain’s 1,000 skiable acres. Located under an hour south from Kalispell, and just west of Flathead Lake, Blacktail Mountain is one of the many small community and family based ski and snowboarders spread across the Rocky Mountains of Montana. The mountain’s unique layout means that the lodge is located at the top of the mountain. The lifts may not be fast, or the runs particularly long, but it is areas like this that hold the heart and soul of skiing and snowboarding.
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Discovery Ski Area

Discovery Ski and Snowboard Area

Located in Anaconda, Montana, halfway between Butte and Missoula, Discovery Ski and Snowboard Area has a surprisingly big 2,200 acres of skiable terrain and 2,388’ of vertical drop. The mountain is nearly the size of Bridger Bowl, yet sees only one third the number of skiers. Five lifts serve the mountain’s frontside, which has beginner area, groomers, and a terrain park. The three lifts on Discovery Ski Area’s backside access some really fun terrain. The old Limelight double chair serves up great laps on steep glades, with no traversing and no crowds. The only skiers and snowboarders you’ll be sharing these runs with are the friendly and dedicated locals. This is quintessential Discovery, friendly and fun. Read more about the history and development of Discovery’s unique character here.

Red Lodge

Red Lodge Ski and Snowboard Area

Red Lodge Mountain’s slogan goes a long way in describing this southern Montana ski and snowboard area, “Red Lodge Mountain is Montana Skiing, pure and simple. No lift lines, no attitude, no big prices. Just great snow, great people, and an authentic experience in Montana’s Rocky Mountains.” Red Lodge’s seven lifts serve 1,635 skiable acres with 2,400’ of vertical drop. Like the other small ski and snowboard areas in Montana the lifts may be a bit old, and the resort is not the largest, but the lift lines are short and the staff are friendly. The ski and snowboard area is located just outside of the town of Red Lodge, which is just north of Yellowstone and the Wyoming border, about a 60 minute drive from Billings, or 120 from Bozeman.

Montana Snowbowl

Montana Snowbowl Ski and Snowboard Area

Just a 30 minute drive from one of Montana’s biggest cities, Missoula, Montana Snowbowl is a 950 acre ski and snowboard area frequented by locals and students from the University of Montana. There is a good selection of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities. Advanced riders won’t be blown away, however, the skier’s right side of the mountain, runs like East Bowl, are really fun. Don’t miss the bar at the base area, too, for great food, a good atmosphere, all at local Montana (cheap) prices.
Need ski or snowboard gear for your trip? Gear up! Shop online, or stop by one of our amazing flagship stores in Seattle, Portland, or Denver and get stocked up on everything you need for an all-time day on the slopes.

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