Big Sky, Montana

Montana Ski Resorts

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Overall

A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.

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Planning a ski trip? Browse our collection of skier and snowboarder-submitted reviews for ski resorts to see which mountains claimed the top spot in each category. reviews rank ski areas on a scale of one to five stars in the following categories: Overall Rating, All-Mountain Terrain, Nightlife, Terrain Park and Family Friendly. See how your favorite ski area stacks up among the top rated in terms of skiing and après.

Montana Ski Resorts FAQ

The rich lodes of gold and silver gave rise to Montana’s nickname as the “Treasure State.” But visit any of Montana’s 12 ski resorts and you’ll find the real treasure to be a mother lode: an absolutely prodigious snowfall combined with a small population leading to short or usually non-existent lift lines and about an acre of terrain for each skier or snowboarder.

If it’s scale you’re looking for, the word mega-resort in the tradition of, say, Vail or Aspen, may not apply. The lodging can be just as luxurious in several resorts (think Big Sky), but the size is more manageable. On the other hand, the terrain scale is massive. Big is indeed the operable word.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions about Montana skiing and riding

What ski resorts are located in Montana? Short descriptions

Big Sky (Big Sky) Largest major full-scale resort in state, popular destination with light crowds.

Blacktail (Lakeside) On the west side of Flatail Lake, generates prodigious snows.

Bridger Bowl (Bozeman) Not glitzy, locals love its great runs and snow conditions.

Discovery (Phillipsburg) Known to locals as “Disco,” variety of beginner, intermediate runs.

Great Divide (Helena) Small area often the first to open for the season in the state.

Lost Trail/Powder Mt. (Sula) Straddles the Montana-Idaho border with reliable snow.

Maverick (Dillon) A family-owned throwback mountain with all levels of trails.

Montana Snowbowl (Missoula) Ski or ride on two peaks including Grizzly, a 3-mile cruiser.

Red Lodge (Red Lodge) Big mountain Montana skiing (“pure and simple”) at the right price.

Showdown (Neihart) Here’s the paradise for intermediate skiers and riders.

Teton Pass (Choteau) Incredible views, mixed terrain, untracked snow and backcounty access.

Whitefish (Whitefish) 3,000 acres of fun on Big Mountain 8 miles from the resort town.

What “cool” towns are near Montana’s ski areas?

For starters, most are small and have a character all their own. Whitefish is a fave bcause of its world class ski mountain, proximity to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone and small town charm. Red Lodge is a classic Western town and is always described as “really cool.” Missoula is a lively town for sure and a stop at Charlie’s Bar on Higgins Street is a must. The blue light atop the Hotel Baxter tips off locals about new snow on the mountain in Bozeman. The town feel is laid back and relaxed.

Can you really get there?

Sure, just takes a bit of planning. Your best bet is flying into Bozeman-Yellowstone International Airport from virtually any of the major U.S. cities East and West and it’s a short drive to Bridger Bowl and not much of a hop to Big Sky. Head into Glacier Park Airport in Kalispell and then drive about 19 miles into Whitefish.

And just how cold is it?

If you’re looking for a tropical climate, turn around. Get the face mask or baklava on and quit whining. You’re likely to hit a below zero day. It’s going to be cold. But, when you discover that famous Montana “cold smoke” snow, you won’t care. It’s a light, dry and seemingly endless snow that follows skiers and boarders during a powder run. Cold smoke is such a regular phenomenon during winter in Montana there’s even a beer named after this type of powder skiing. Many believe February is the best time to ski here.

If skiing and riding is so good, why no lift lines in Montana?

Easy answer. Montana is among the nation’s smallest states – by population, not terrain. Just over a million people live here. Even if every one of them skied, there’s plenty of terrain left for visitors. Lift lines are a rarity.

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