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14 Ski Areas, 15,000 Acres of Terrain and the Country’s Best Snow

Vlad Poptamas

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Find world-class skiing and spectacular views at Whitefish Mountain Resort. (Photo Courtesy: Visit Montana/Craig Moore)
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While much of the West is home to great skiing, there’s only one place that has more acres per skier than anywhere else in the continental United States—Montana. Anchored by two world-class ski destinations, Big Sky Resort and Whitefish Mountain Resort, Montana’s well-rounded ski scene, charming mountain communities and cozy amenities make it one of the best locations for a winter ski trip.

Known for the “biggest skiing in America,” Big Sky Resort has 5,850 skiable acres, 36 lifts and 4,350 vertical feet, providing plenty of room for skiers and snowboarders of all levels and abilities. New this year is the Ramcharger 8, the new 8-seat, high-speed D-line chairlift is the first of its kind in the world. Plus, even on its busiest days, the resort’s wide terrain still offers two acres per skier. While skiers and snowboarders can find everything from lodging to shopping and dining at the resort, abundant hospitality services are also available in the mountain town of Big Sky, located just down the road from the resort.

More world-class skiing can be found at Big Sky’s neighbor to the north, Whitefish Mountain Resort. Home to 3,000 skiable acres and with jaw-dropping views of the Flathead Valley and Glacier National Park, Whitefish Mountain Resort is known for the beautiful snow ghosts (trees covered in a thick ice called rime) that cover the slopes of Big Mountain, making skiing through many of the runs like gliding though a beautiful snow-covered wonderland. In addition, the resort has plenty of onsite amenities—including lodging, shopping and dining—but it’s also located a short 15-minute drive from the charming town of Whitefish.

If you’re looking for off-the-beaten-path skiing and deep powder, head to Lost Trail Powder Mountainand Discovery Ski Area.

Situated on U.S. Highway 93 south of Darby in the Bitterroot Valley, Lost Trail Powder Mountain is celebrating its 80th ski season this year. A local Montana favorite, Lost Trail welcomes snow early in the season, with fresh powder falling all winter long for an average of 325 inches of snow annually. No lodging is available on the mountain, but the nearby communities of Sula, Darby and Hamiltonprovide a wide variety of accommodations, dining options and local libations.

Located about halfway between Big Sky Resort and Whitefish Mountain Resort—and one of the earliest mountains to open this ski season—is Discovery Ski Area near Philipsburg.

Home to three faces that encompass 2,200 acres, Discovery has a variety of terrain that includes gentle runs, advanced groomed cruisers, mogul skiing and steep drops with deep powder. Its on-mountain lodge provides dining, drinks and rental gear. When skiing Discovery, be sure to plan time to explore the revitalized mining town of Philipsburg and wash your ski day down with chocolate from The Sweet Palace and a locally brewed beer from Philipsburg Brewing Company.

An easy drive over the mountains will take you to Great Divide, Montana’s sunniest ski area. Situated on the Continental Divide near the state’s capital city of Helena, Great Divide is a favorite among families with graceful groomers and wide-open bowls. This ski area rounds out its offerings with six terrain parks and live music every Friday night, making it a great location for a winter weekend of family skiing, especially when combined with an overnight stay in Helena, a visit to the city’s carousel and a soak in Broadwater Hot Springs.

A scenic drive from Great Falls, Montana’s Little Belt Mountains are home to one of the state’s best skiing secrets, Showdown Montana. Big Sky Country’s oldest ski area, Showdown has 640 acres of mixed terrain for beginner, intermediate and expert experience levels and is known for its friendly atmosphere and all-natural snow.

Additional skiing can be found at Bear Paw Ski Area south of Havre, Blacktail Mountain in Lakeside, Bridger Bowl Ski Area in Bozeman, Lookout Pass Ski & Recreation Area west of St. Regis, Maverick Mountain near Dillon, Montana Snowbowl in Missoula, Red Lodge Mountain in Red Lodge and Turner Mountain near Libby.

And while there’s plenty of skiing to be found in Montana, there’s more to a winter getaway than cruising down tree-lined slopes, conquering moguls or dropping into powder-filled bowls. Ski trip itineraries—combining downhill ski and snowboarding with dog sled adventures, natural hot springs and road trips—can be found at www.visitmt.com/places-to-go/trip-ideas/ultimate-ski-trips.html.

For more information on skiing in Montana, check out VISITMT.COM.

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