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Coolest Season Adventures

Winter Across Montana

 Big Sky Resort

MONTANA'S SLOPES DELIVER PEAK-TO-PEAK panoramas and bottomless powder without hype or hassle. With more than a dozen alpine ski areas, pick one that fits your style.

ADRENALINE RUSH: You’re a weekend warrior who loves a challenge. Montana’s largest ski resort and one of America’s 10 biggest, Big Sky Resort serves up some of the West’s most hard-charging inbounds skiing, with the longest of its white-knuckle descents a 4,350-foot vertical drop. Big Sky Resort also boasts North America’s first eight-person chairlift. Plus, it’s an IKON Pass destination, one of 41 iconic ski areas worldwide that share pass privileges.

Montana Snowbowl, Missoula’s home mountain, has huge vertical descents and challenging backcountry terrain. Open runs, glades, gullies, chutes and deep powder-filled bowls cater to every level.

POWDER POWER: You’re a purist who cares more about snow than après-ski. An easy drive from Missoula, Butte and Helena, Discovery Ski Area lays claim to some of the steepest lift-served terrain in the state, plus sweeping powder bowls and experts-only double-black-diamond runs.

Near Bozeman, 2,000-acre Bridger Bowl Ski Area is revered for its “cold smoke” snow, the fluffiest and driest powder. Experts make a beeline for “the ridge,” a mecca of steep chutes and rock cliffs.

Perched atop the Continental Divide on the border of Montana and Idaho, Lost Trail Powder Mountain has no lodging or restaurants but offers some of the state’s most abundant snowfall and a challenging array of glades, chutes and cliffs.

TRUE BLUE: You find your happy place in smooth blue corduroy runs. If you ski only for bluebird-day views and swoopy cruises, Blacktail Mountain near Flathead Lake is your spot. It’s the only Montana ski resort where you drive your car to the top. With lake views and wide-angle vistas of the Swan Mountains, the drive up is almost as enjoyable as the ski down.

BUDGET-MINDED PARENTS: You want a good deal on lessons and lift tickets. High atop the Continental Divide and close to Helena, Great Divide bills itself as having Montana’s longest and sunniest ski season. Family-friendly options include the Sno-Kids program, which lets preschoolers try out skiing for only 10 bucks. Straddling Montana and Idaho, Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area offers a free ski school for kids and value-priced lift tickets for everybody else.

SOLITUDE SEEKERS: You want the mountain all to yourself. In southwest Montana, Maverick Mountain exudes an old-school ski vibe with one chairlift, 24 trails and a lack of crowds. Or head to Showdown Montana in the Little Belt Mountains. With only four lifts and 650 acres of skiable terrain, this 1936 resort—Montana’s oldest continually operated—is known for untrampled snow. In northwest Montana, you can even rent all of volunteer-run Turner Mountain for you and your guests.

SKI AND PLAY: You want to ski, but you also want nightlife and off-snow fun. Whitefish Mountain Resort’s 3,000 skiable acres in northwest Montana are only part of the action. There’s also lighted night skiing on weekends and holidays from late December to early March, and plenty of lively options in the base village. Or kick off your ski boots in downtown Whitefish’s watering holes, like The Great Northern Brewing Company. If you’re near Billings, Red Lodge Mountain beckons with big mountain terrain and fast-paced tree skiing. The artsy 19th-century town of Red Lodge supplies many nonskiing options, such as Old-West-style saloons and Montana’s oldest movie theater.

MONTANA'S CELEBRATED NATIONAL PARKS provide one-of-a-kind experiences in winter. In Glacier National Park, make tracks on cross-country skis along the shores of Lake McDonald, or join a ranger-led snowshoe tour in the Apgar area. Glacier’s hotels and most roads close in winter but permit camping is available. At Yellowstone National Park, only the Gardiner entrance is open for autos year-round; explore the glistening white landscape by snowcoach, snowmobile, skis or snowshoes. Cozy up at Old Faithful Snow Lodge and Cabins, ride in a snowcoach van to the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone River to see frozen Lower Falls, or snowshoe to explore Upper Geyser Basin’s steamy springs.

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MORE SNOW FUN

Not a skier? Try these powder-play adventures.

SOAK UP THE WARMTH at three historic hot springs resorts—Quinn’s, Chico and Elkhorn—and plan to spend a night at each. After a bask in mineral-rich hot water, you won’t feel like driving.

RIDE IN A HEATED SNOWCAT at Big Sky Resort to the backcountry Montana Dinner Yurt, then savor filet mignon and French onion soup served by candlelight. After dessert, sled on a torch-lit run and see the Milky Way.

GLIDE ACROSS THE SNOW IN A SLEIGH pulled by majestic horses at Double Arrow Lodge in Seeley Lake, Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish or Black Diamond Guest Ranch in De Borgia.

TAKE A DOGSLEDDING TOUR with outfitters like Base Camp Bigfork in Bigfork, or Dog Sled Adventures or Winter Woods Dog Sled Tours, both in Whitefish.

RIDE A SNOWMOBILE on a guided Flathead Valley tour with Swan Mountain Snowmobiling, or book a tour at Rich’s Montana Guest Ranch in the Swan Mountains.

PEDAL ON A FAT-TIRE BIKE on the snow. Whitefish Bike Retreat offers lodging, rentals and winter trail access to a 16-mile track in the Beaver Lakes Recreation Area.

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 Bridger Bowl

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