One of the things that makes Western Montana so extraordinary is our landscapes—alpine forests and sweeping meadows plus glacier-carved peaks and mountains. When the snow falls, it transforms into an unbeatable winter playground home to seven ski areas that boast affordable lift tickets, ridiculous vertical drops, consistently excellent snowfall and more than 11,723 acres of skiable terrain combined. Come discover epic downhill powder play in Glacier Country.
Take in mesmerizing views of Glacier National Park, Flathead Lake and the Mission Mountains at Blacktail Mountain in Lakeside. The goal of Blacktail Mountain is to offer a family-friendly mountain experience. 15% of the slopes are beginner, 65% are intermediate and the other 20% of more difficult. A unique quirk at Blacktail is that the parking lot and lodge are located at the top of the mountain instead of the base. Hop out of your car, buy a pass and be skiing within 10 minutes. End the day fireside in the lodge and get cozy with a warm drink and some nachos. Downhill Detail: 1,000 acres + 24 runs + 1,440 ft. vertical drop.
DISCOVERY SKI AREA
Discovery Ski Area is one of our top picks for families with all levels of skiers, as it offers a variety of runs across its three faces. Advanced skiers in the family have access to some of the steepest lift-service terrain in the region. Beautiful views, tree skiing, powder bowls, groomed trails and mogul runs make Discovery one of the area’s best-kept secrets. The lodge’s freshly baked shortbread chocolate chip cookies alone are worth the visit. A short distance from Philipsburg, National Geographic magazine featured Philipsburg and Discovery as one of the “Best Secret Ski Towns of North America that deliver some of the most unspoiled skiing North America has to offer.” Downhill Detail: 2,200 acres + 67 runs + 2,388 ft. vertical drop.
Straddling the Montana/Idaho border, ski some of the earliest and heaviest snowfall in Western Montana—nearly 400 inches per year—at Lookout Pass. Voted the most family-friendly mountain resort in the Pacific Northwest by visitors to OnTheSnow.com, Lookout has bargain prices for legendary snow and runs the whole family will enjoy. Completed in winter 2022, the Eagle Peak expansion added 500 more acres and 14 new runs ranging from intermediate to expert. The new Eagle Peak Quad Chairlift transports skiers to the top of Eagle Peak Summit, which is 640 feet higher than the previous summit. Downhill Detail: 1,023 acres + 52 runs + 1,650 ft. vertical drop.
LOST TRAIL POWDER MOUNTAIN
Also on the Montana/Idaho border is Lost Trail Powder Mountain. This unassuming ski area in the Bitterroot Valley lets you ride along the Continental Divide and has some of the deepest and most consistent snowfall in Montana, averaging more than 325 inches annually. Lost Trail has a large selection of ski lessons available for children and adults, from beginners to those looking to advance their skills. On the slopes, find a mix of intermediate and advanced runs and a section known as “The White House,” boasting double black diamond runs that experts will love. Downhill Detail: 1,800 acres + 69 runs + 1,800 ft. vertical drop. The longest run is 2.5 miles.
Located 12 miles from Missoula, Montana Snowbowl is known for being “steep and deep” thanks to their deep powder bowls and plethora of black diamond runs—plus a run that’s 2,600 feet of continuous vertical drop. In 2020 they made an addition of more than 1,000 acres of skiable terrain, with most of the runs catering to beginners and intermediate riders. A triple chair lift—one of the steepest in the country—boasting a 1,700-foot vertical was added in 2022. Cap off your day at the lodge, Last Run Inn, with their famous bloody marys and wood-fired pizza. Downhill Detail: 2,300 acres + 49 runs + 2,600 ft. vertical drop.
Just north of Libby, Turner Mountain is a hidden gem ski area for advanced skiers. It’s a favorite among locals with little to no lift lines, wide-open slopes, awe-inspiring scenery, affordable lift tickets and no crowds. Oh, and an impressive vertical drop—2,110 feet, in fact—plus, 60% of the terrain is rated black diamond. SKI magazine once described Turner as having some of the “best lift-assisted powder skiing in the U.S.” Run by volunteers, Turner is open Friday through Sunday, unless you want to bring some friends and rent the entire mountain—an available and surprisingly affordable option. Downhill Detail: 400 acres + 22 runs + 2,110 ft. vertical drop.
WHITEFISH MOUNTAIN RESORT
Whitefish Mountain Resort is 8 miles north of the quintessential ski town of Whitefish. This world-class resort is Western Montana’s largest ski mountain with more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain. Skiers will find runs for all levels and multiple terrain parks, with jaw-dropping views of Glacier National Park and the Flathead Valley at the summit. Night skiing is a favorite of many and can be enjoyed Friday and Saturday nights. In 2022 came the addition of a new six-pack chair lift—Snow Ghost Express, named after the resort’s charming, ice-coated trees. The resort has on-mountain lodging, restaurants and shops. Downhill Detail: 3,000 acres + 113 runs + 2,353 ft. vertical drop.
Please note: We ask that all our visitors and residents Recreate Responsibly by being mindful of the following: know before you go; plan ahead; play it safe; leave no trace; tread lightly; and help build an inclusive outdoors.
October 1, 2023
Related: Bitterroot Valley, Downhill Skiing, Family Fun, Flathead Corridor, I-90 Corridor, Lakeside, Libby, Missoula, Moiese, Northwest Corridor, Outdoor Fun, Philipsburg, Resorts, St. Regis, Sula, Whitefish, Winter Fun