Get the low down on Montana’s ski towns
The perfect ski vacation is not just about the number of trails a resort has, but also the environment and charm of the destination. Montana ski towns are known for their friendly and laid-back lifestyles, each with its own unique personality to discover between runs. From fun-for-the-whole-family excursions to a night out on the town, these Montana mountain towns offer winter travelers everything they could want for their next ski getaway.
Located just a short drive from Glacier National Park in northwest Montana, Whitefish perfectly combines its reputation as a world-class ski destination and charming small town. Consistently named a top ski town (USA Today and Ski magazine to name a few) Whitefish Mountain Resort has been around since 1947 and has gained notoriety for its world-class skiing and laid-back vibe as well as its deep powder and lack of lift lines. Once you are done carving the powder on the mountain, head into town to experience a cozy meal at Wasabi or share a piece of pie at legendary Loula’s Café. Then take a stroll through shops on your way to The Great Northern Brewery Company and swap your day’s adventures with the locals.
The town of Big Sky is the perfect place for travelers looking for an outdoor adventure. Known as “The little town that’s next to everything,” Big Sky is just a quick drive from both Yellowstone National Park and Big Sky Resort, one of the top ski destinations in the country. Residents are notably outdoorsy and love to share their passion with visitors, from cross-country skiing through the sprawling backcountry, to tackling the mountain’s most challenging slopes. It wouldn’t be uncommon to have a moose or another wildlife sighting as you are traversing through the powder. Once off the mountain, make sure to get a taste of the state at Beehive Basin Brewery, which opened in 2015 and has quickly become a fan favorite. Or for a romantic evening out, Everett’s 8800 is an elegant, rustic restaurant located at the top of Andesite Mountain where visitors can toast to their good fortune in view of the sweeping mountain landscape and passing chairlifts. This mountain village is only a short drive from Big Sky Resort and is the perfect blend of luxury and country.
Red Lodge is a classic Montana ski experience and quite possibly the coolest ski town you’ve never heard of. Located on the eastern front of the Beartooth Mountain Range, you won’t find many non-skiers in this quintessential town. Many come to Red Lodge for its classic ski experience, but stay to explore the towns charm and Western hospitality. This is a can’t-miss destination for travelers who want a backcountry. Red Lodge is the only town that you can ski the in the summer on the Beartooth Pass and once you pack up your gear you can follow the pass to the Top of the World while experience epic views any time of the year.
The best ski destinations are lively towns, and there are few spots that are livelier than Missoula. Montana’s second largest city has a great mixture of vibes that lends itself to dive bars and local hangouts to an upper scale night on the town. Just a short drive into the mountains is Montana Snowbowl, a steep and quick-paced ski area that rewards seasoned skiers with several of old-fashioned and challenging runs. For visitors looking to experience the town atmosphere after their last run of the day, Charlie B's is the spot to go for a drink, offering a traditional western style and a rich history. In the morning, stop at The Shack for a stack of huckleberry pancakes drizzled in sweet maple syrup then head off to explore iconic places such as The Roxy and Wilma or a nice river stroll through downtown.
Bozeman is the right choice for skiers looking for a laid-back vacation. Located just 30-minutes from downtown is Bridger Bowl Ski Area and a little over an hour is Big Sky Resort. Off the slopes, Bozeman is a relaxed and walkable town offering a variety of local breweries including Montana Ale Works, a popular after-hours entertainment destination. An iconic symbol in the town is the Hotel Baxter and the infamous blue light that blinks on top to alert locals of new snow falling on the mountain. The light has been guiding skiers for 20 years.