Winter is one of our favorite seasons in Western Montana. We play year-round here, but when the snow falls exploration is exponential—we gear up and get out, and you should too. Glacier Country on average boasts 300 inches of snow yearly, rendering the landscape a winter wonderland and offering endless winter activities for the whole family. Plus, our small towns are always at the ready with warm welcomes and cozy lodging.


Nothing says classic winter getaway like a family ski vacation in Western Montana. And with seven downhill ski areas in the region, there’s a ski scene for everyone. Glacier Country makes it easy to get the entire family on the slopes, with affordable lift tickets and rentals plus short-to-no lift lines. The Kids Center at Whitefish Mountain Resort provides childcare for the littles who aren’t skiing yet and early ski and board programs for those just starting out. Located on the Montana/Idaho border, Lookout Pass has an affordable Learn to Ski in 3 Days package for anyone in the family who’s a first-time skier or snowboarder. Plus their affordable lift tickets (free for children 6 and under) add to the appeal.

Make some memories at Blacktail Mountain. Photo: Noah Couser


Slow things down with a Nordic adventure. Cross-country skiing is a winter favorite here in Western Montana. Groomed trails crisscross the landscape throughout the region, leading to places you might not otherwise be able to access when the ground’s covered in snow, like Garnet Ghost Town. At Dog Creek Lodge and Nordic Ski Center in Olney, you’ll find 27 kilometers of groomed Nordic trails through the Stillwater State Forest. At the main lodge there’s plenty of room for the whole family, accommodating up to 12 guests, and an on-site restaurant.

Wander into a Western Montana snowglobe. Photo: Noah Couser


Dog sledding may not be top of mind when you think of winter family fun, but here’s why it should be—it’s a unique and memorable experience, and wildly fun. The adrenaline rush of mushing your own team of Inuit sled dogs through miles of fresh powder and across frozen lakes is surreal. You can take a guided half-day tour or full-day excursion. Contact Dog Sledding Adventures in Montana or Base Camp Bigfork, where you can also overnight and snowshoe on the property. 

Big Camp Bigfork gives your family the chance to say “Mush!” Photo: Base Camp Bigfork


We don’t stop hiking when the snow flies—we put on our snowshoes. Walking in a winter wonderland is peaceful, and one of the easiest ways to explore Western Montana this time of year. You can find snowshoeing trails, rentals and guides throughout the region. But if you want an insider tip, snowshoeing is one of the quietest and most serene ways to experience Glacier National Park. The most popular trail is the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road, but there are trails on both the east and west sides of the park ready to be explored.  

Snowshoeing is a peaceful way to spend an afternoon. Photo: TraelingMel


Dashing through the snow in a horse-drawn sleigh? Yes, please! It doesn’t get much more enchanting than this. Bundle up and wind down on a relaxing, super-cozy sleigh ride, offering wintry vistas by day and starry skies by night. Book a sleigh ride with Bar W Guest Ranch in Whitefish, Double Arrow Lodge in Seeley Lake, or Cripple Creek Horse Ranch in Trego. Make it a weekend at Clydesdale Outpost—embark on a family sleigh ride and enjoy some easy snowshoeing on the property before overnighting in one of their stylish cabins, complete with cedar hot tubs. 

A horse-drawn sleigh ride is a winter delight. Photo: Noah Couser


Fat biking is so much fun. Fat bikes are regular bikes equipped with fat tires that make it easy to ride on top of packed snow. If you can ride a bike, you can ride a fat bike. You’ll find groomed trails and snow-packed roads throughout the region. We recommend a stay at the Whitefish Bike Retreat, where guests can access trails on the property that connect to the Whitefish Trail, which boasts 40+ miles of trails (not all of which are groomed or accessible for fat biking).

Get out and explore Western Montana’s winter wonderland on a fat bike. Photo: TravelingMel


After a day in the snow, make time to find a hot springs for some much-needed, post-adventure relaxation. These healing mineral waters are enjoyed by adults and kids alike, especially after a day outside. Consider making a place like Quinn’s Hot Springs Resort, located in Paradise, your home base for Western Montana adventure. Quinn’s books up fast, so it’s best to reserve well in advance or take advantage of their day-swim pass program Monday to Thursday.

The pools at Quinn’s Hot Springs make an incredible family getaway. Photo: Kevin Boles

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.

December 25, 2023

Related: Bigfork, Dog Sledding, Downhill Skiing, Essex, Family Fun, Fat Biking, Flathead Corridor, Garnet Ghost Town, Glacier National Park, Hot Springs, Montana, Nordic Skiing, Paradise, Polson, Seeley Lake, Snowshoeing, Trego, Vacation, Whitefish, Winter Fun