Whitefish Mountain Resort (formerly Big Mountain), just outside of Whitefish, and Big Sky, some 30 miles south of Bozeman, are Montana’s two big destination ski resorts. If you’d rather avoid the development but still can’t resist the thrills of downhill, try one of the smaller ski areas outside Libby, Missoula, Bozeman, Anaconda, Darby, Dillon, Neihart, Red Lodge, or Choteau. The ski season generally runs from Thanksgiving through mid-March.
Once the back roads of National Forests are covered with snow, many of them become cross-country ski trails. The Forest Service distributes a list of ski trails, and local ranger stations have specific maps for their areas. Trails groomed for both standard cross-country skiing and “freestyle,” or “skating,” are maintained by lodges, such as the Izaak Walton Inn in Essex, and by individual communities, like the Rendezvous Trails in West Yellowstone. There may be a fee to ski on groomed trails.
For an overview of downhill and cross-country ski areas, contact Travel Montana (800/847-4868, www.wintermt.com) and request the Montana Winter Guide. This brochure also contains information about snowmobiling. Most ski resorts and all larger towns have ski, snowboard, and snowshoe rental facilities.
© W.C. McRae & Judy Jewell from Moon Montana, 7th Edition