Last Updated on 31st May 2022 by Steve
Montana might not be as well known for its skiing as Colorado or Utah, but it can boast one of the biggest ski resorts in the USA and some quite spectacular ski areas in the most beautiful parts of the northern states. Anyone planning a winter trip should check out our list of the largest ski areas in Montana listed below:
Montana ski resorts map
Biggest ski areas in Montana
The biggest names and biggest ski resorts in Montana are Big Sky Resort and Whitefish Mountain, with more than respectable amounts of terrain, runs and vertical drop. But there are plenty of other accessible ski areas around the state for any keen skier or boarder who wants to explore a little further…
Big Sky Resort
The ski area at Big Sky is firmly in the top rankings for the title of biggest ski resort in the USA, with mountain stats putting it second in terms of trails and fourth in terms of total ski acreage. The ski resort was originally created by a retired TV personality, Chet Hunter, in the 1970s. The skiing was originally on one side of Lone Mountain and Andesite Mountain, but the area, now owned by Boyne Resorts, has expanded in recent years with the acquisition of the neighbouring Moonlight Basin ski area.
Lone Mountain is renowned for its tough in-bound ski trails and gullies, although the ski resort does offer plenty for lower intermediate level skiers nearer the resort villages. Big Sky Resort has ambitious expansion plans for for the lift system and base accommodation (the Lone Peak tram is scheduled for a massive upgrade, for example) although there are grumblings from locals that real estate investment rather than skiing seems to be the prime motivator in past years.
Ski Resort Accommodation at Big Sky
Based right at the foot of the ski lifts, Big Sky Resort Village Center offers studio accommodation with kitchenette, fireplace, buffet breakfast and free WIFI. The resort buildings also include swimming pool and hot tub/jacuzzi. Free parking is available on-site.
Huntley Lodge is another in the Big Sky Mountain Village cluster of accommodations at the base of the ski lifts. The Lodge provides double rooms and apartments which sleep up to seven occupants, as well as an included breakfast buffet.
The Shoshone Condominium Hotel is also based at the bottom of the main lifts at Big Sky Resort and offers one-bedroom apartments with full kitchen facilities for two to six people. Free WIFI and on-site parking are included and there are indoor and outdoor swimming pools as well as hot tub and jacuzzi.
The accommodation at Lone Mountain Ranch is in one- and two-bedroom cabins and is suitable for both downhill skiers and Nordic skiers, who can set off on trails direct from the accommodation. A shuttle service to the lifts is offered for guests planning to ski at Big Sky Resort.
Skiers who are looking for alternative accommodation in the area might like to check the availability link below, which includes apartments and holiday homes in the Big Sky region.
Big Sky Ski Video
Big Sky Ski Stats
Lifts: Big Sky Resort has 39 lifts, including what is claimed to be the fastest chairlift in North America
Terrain: The ski area covers 5850 acres
Vertical drop: The difference between the valley and the top station is 4350 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Big Sky Resort is around 6 miles in length
The ski area tends to be uncrowded in most spots because there’s so much space for skiers and snowboarders to spread out.www.powderhounds.com
Ski Area Website: bigskyresort.com
Whitefish Mountain Resort
Whitefish Mountain Resort is the second-largest ski resort in Montana and ranks respectably for the amount of terrain compared to other resorts in Colorado and Utah. The skiing is on Big Mountain (which was the original name of the ski area when it was launched just after the Second World War) in the Flathead valley just to the north of the town of Whitefish and not far from Glacier National Park.
The ski resort atmosphere is very much a friendly small-town vibe, which is not surprising considering that the nearby town of Whitefish has a population of only just over 6,000. Nonetheless, the area is set up for tourism, with the summer attractions of Glacier National Park and the nearby lakes and accessibility through Glacier Park International Airport.
Ski Resort Accommodation at Whitefish
The Kandahar Lodge is located near the base of the ski lifts at Whitefish Mountain Resort and it is possible to ski back to the accommodation in good conditions. It has a variety of rooms and studios and offers free WIFI and an included continental breakfast.
Grouse Mountain Lodge is located just outside downtown Whitefish about eight miles away from the skiing at Whitefish Mountain Resort. The lodge offers standard queen and family rooms, indoor pool, hote tub and free WIFI.
Skiers who are looking for alternative accommodation in the area might like to check the availability link below, which includes apartments and holiday homes in the Whitefish area.
Whitefish Ski Video
Whitefish Ski Stats
Lifts: Whitefish Mountain Resort has 14 lifts, including 11 chairlifts
Terrain: The ski terrain covers 3000 acres
Vertical drop: The difference in altitude between the valley and the top station is 2350 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Whitefish is just over three miles in length
Whitefish frequently inspires fans to write in all caps about both the resort and the town, which have “the friendliest people ANYWHERE.”SKI Magazine
Ski Area Website: skiwhitefish.com
Red Lodge Mountain
The skiing at Red Lodge Mountain is near the southern border of Montana in the Beartooth Mountains an hour’s drive southwest of Billings, which makes it the ski resort the furthest east in the state. The medium-sized ski area covers Grizzly Peak and Nichols Peak and rises to an altitude of 9,416 feet.
The trails at Red Lodge Mountain tend not to be crowded and it is very much a locals’ ski area, with plenty of options for advanced and expert skiers. Accommodation is available in downtown Red Lodge, a former mining town a few miles away from the ski area.
Red Lodge Mountain Video
Red Lodge Mountain Ski Stats
Lifts: Red Lodge Mountain has 6 chairlifts and one surface lift
Terrain: The ski terrain covers 1600 acres
Vertical drop: The difference in altitude between the valley and the top station is 2400 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Red Lodge Mountain is around two-and-a-half miles in length
Red Lodge Mountain is known for a quality ski experience and an impressive variety of terrain, bundled up in a user-friendly experience.freeskier.com
Ski Area Website: www.redlodgemountain.com
Bridger Bowl Ski Area
Anyone looking for a Montana ski resort with great expert skiing and good snow should put Bridger Bowl ski area on their list. The east-facing slopes mean that the snow tends to be drier, leading to the locals calling it ‘Montana coldsmoke’. And one of the lifts requires that users have an avalanche beacon before being allowed to use it access the steep runs from the top.
The ski resort is run by a non-profit association and has no accommodation at the base but is only 16 miles to the north of the college town of Bozeman, with its lively student scene. That means that Fridays and weekends can get crowded, although a Bozeman skier or boarder also has the choice of Big Sky Resort within easy reach.
Bridger Bowl Video
Bridger Bowl Ski Stats
Lifts: Bridger Bowl has eight chairlifts and one surface lift
Terrain: The skiable terrain covers 2000 acres
Vertical drop: The difference in altitude between the valley and the top station is 2500 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Bridger Bowl is around three miles in length
Bridger Bowl is a classic resort with a strong local following and a reputation for good snow and steep terrain.skinorthamerica100.com
Ski Area Website: bridgerbowl.com
Lost Trail Powder Mountain
Lost Trail Powder Mountain is a ski area quite a way from major population centres located in the Bitterroot valley of southwest Montana. The skiing sits right on the Idaho-Montana border almost due south of Missoula and is open from Thursday to Sunday and on all major holidays.
The family-run ski resort, which goes back to 1938, is renowned for good snow conditions but guests also comment on some fairly ancient lift infrastructure. However, the relative isolation of the skiing means that the visitors that do make it here rarely have to wait in lift lines.
Lost Trail Video
Lost Trail Ski Area Stats
Lifts: Lost Trail ski area has five chairlifts and three surface tows
Terrain: The ski terrain covers 2200 acres
Vertical drop: The difference in altitude between the valley and the top station is 1800 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Lost Trail is just over a mile in length
Ski Area Website: losttrail.com (blocked for Europeans!)
Discovery Ski Area
Discovery ski area is located in western Montana near the small town of Philipsburg to the west of Butte and the main Butte-Missoula Interstate 90 connection. The ski trails on the front face are mainly intermediate skier level whereas the back side leads to a host of black and double black diamond ski routes.
The ski area at Discovery generally aims to open at Thanksgiving and the season runs through to the beginning of April. Snowmaking on this locals area only covers four runs, however.
Discovery Ski Area Video
Discovery Ski Stats
Lifts: Discovery ski area has seven chairlifts and one surface lift
Terrain: The ski terrain covers 2200 acres
Vertical drop: The difference in altitude between the valley and the top station is around 1670 feet (not counting the Silver Chief Lift which is only open weekends given sufficient snow)
Longest run: The longest run at Discovery is around a mile and a half in length
Ski Area Website: www.skidiscovery.com
Great Divide Ski Area
Great Divide is an affordable ski area to the northwest of the Montana state capital Helena in the hills above the small town of Marysville. It is a medium-sized ski resort run by a local family and is normally open Wednesday through to Sunday, with night skiing available on Fridays.
The main intermediate and beginner skiing is on Mt Belmont, with two bowls with more advanced terrain accessed from the top. Those who enjoy terrain park skiing will be in their element as there are no less than six of them in the Great Divide ski area.
Great Divide Video
Great Divide Ski Stats
Lifts: Great Divide ski area has five chairlifts and one rope tow
Terrain: The skiable terrain covers 1600 acres
Vertical drop: The difference in altitude between the valley and the top station is around 1500 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Great Divide is three miles in length
Ski Area Website: www.skigd.com
Montana Snowbowl is a ski area just to the north of the college town of Missoula, with a reputation for steep runs and an old-fashioned ski experience. Somewhat confusingly for non-native skiers, the trails are cut on Big Sky Mountain (no relation!) with a top altitude of just over 7500 feet.
The Snowbowl does have some skiing rated at beginner and intermediate levels, but it comes into its own for advanced and expert skiers with plenty of steep chutes and gladed tree skiing. The vertical drop is also one of the bigger in the state.
Montana Snowbowl Video
Montana Snowbowl Ski Stats
Lifts: Montana Snowbowl has three chairlifts and two surface lifts
Terrain: The ski terrain covers 950 acres
Vertical drop: The difference in altitude between the valley and the top station is around 2600 feet
Longest run: The longest run at Montana Snowbowl is three miles in length
Ski Area Website: www.montanasnowbowl.com