Western Montana’s Glacier Country offers a treasure trove of enchanting winter landscapes and snow-season adventures. Here’s our guide to the top 8 winter destinations in this incredible place. Whether you seek powdery slopes, festive villages or cozy escapes, each destination promises an unforgettable winter-in-Montana experience.
WHITEFISH + WHITEFISH MOUNTAIN RESORT
The quintessential mountain town of Whitefish comes alive with winter allure, offering a delightful destination to get away during the frosty season. Embrace the thrill of world-class skiing and snowboarding on the slopes of Whitefish Mountain Resort, where big terrain and stunning vistas await. For cross-country enthusiasts, Glacier Nordic Club offers groomed trails through snow-covered pines with gorgeous mountain and lake views. At day’s end, warm up with Montana-inspired cocktails at local distillery Spotted Bear Spirits. With its welcoming community, vibrant downtown shops and eateries, and a snow-covered landscape perfect for outdoor adventures, Whitefish is winter at its finest.
BIGFORK CHRISTMAS VILLAGE
Step into a storybook holiday scene at the Bigfork Christmas Village. This charming community nestled along the shores of Flathead Lake transforms into a winter wonderland this time of year, hosting festive events all season long and kicking off with a parade of lights. Bigfork’s boutiques, galleries and restaurants come alive with festivities and treats, like holiday shopping events, wine strolls and festive dinners. This truly is the most wonderful time of the year in Bigfork.
LIBBY + TURNER MOUNTAIN
Libby beckons winter adventurers from all around. This lively little community draws snow enthusiasts with wintry landscapes and warm welcomes. Hit the slopes at Turner Mountain, a hidden gem offering an exceptional (and affordable) small-town skiing experience with fresh, untracked powder, wide-open slopes and local allure. For a captivating glide through the snowy woods, set out on a Nordic skiing adventure on the Ross Creek Trail, which ends at the beautiful Ross Creek Cedar Grove. If snowmobiling is more your speed, power up and explore the more than 350 miles of scenic, groomed snowmobile trails in the Kootenai National Forest. Après adventure, head to Cabinet Mountain Brewing Co. (dubbed Libby’s Living Room) for friendly vibes and authentic Montana flavor.
Set among the pristine wilderness of the Seeley-Swan Valley, Seeley Lake is a year-round recreation destination, and winter is the star of the show. Grab your cross-country skis and revel in the groomed Nordic trails that wind through snow-laden forests, offering a serene winter experience. Or, embrace the thrill of the region’s vast backcountry terrain and frozen landscapes on a snowmobiling excursion. Seeley Lake also boasts cozy lodging (and sleigh rides!) offering a winter getaway for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.
DARBY + SULA
At the southern end of the beautiful Bitterroot Valley, the communities of Darby and Sula capture the allure of a Montana winter. This breathtaking area becomes a winter playground for adventurers seeking mountain thrills. Ski the pristine slopes at Lost Trail Powder Mountain, which offers consistently reliable snow and stunning views. Or, head to Chief Joseph Pass, where you’ll find miles of scenic Nordic ski and snowshoe trails. For those seeking a tranquil retreat, Triple Creek Ranch offers a cozy, adults-only escape. Whether it’s skiing the slopes, exploring the wintry wilderness, or indulging in relaxation, you’ll find a winter paradise here in the Bitterroot Valley.
LOOKOUT PASS + HAUGAN
Discover epic downhill at Lookout Pass ski area, straddling the Idaho-Montana border. This winter destination attracts skiers and snowboarders with its superb terrain and snowfall, coming in at around 400 inches a year—the highest in the region. Nearby Haugan becomes a haven for snowmobilers this time of year, with its vast backcountry trails, snowy expanses and spectacular views. Power up on the Haugan/Randolph Creek Loop, offering 28 miles of groomed trails. While in Haugan, make a pit stop at Lincoln’s 50,000 Silver Dollar Bar, featuring a gift shop, cafe and motel.
There’s no place like the mountain town of Missoula, and winter here paints an inviting scene of snowy landscapes and vibrant community spirit. The city becomes a hub of winter activities and cultural experiences: Discover epic downhill skiing at Montana Snowbowl. Explore the nearby snow-covered hills on a Nordic ski or snowshoe adventure. Stroll the downtown streets for a lively First Friday gallery walk—downtown Missoula also boasts seasonal events, boutique shops and an impressive culinary scene, including award-winning craft breweries and distilleries. With world-class outdoor recreation and an array of arts and culture offerings, Missoula is a winter destination not to be missed.
GLACIER NATIONAL PARK
Glacier National Park under a blanket of snow is as enchanting as it gets. The season transforms this natural treasure into a peaceful sanctuary, inviting adventurers seeking solitude and winter wonder. Gear up for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing and wildlife watching among the park’s rugged peaks, majestic valleys and frozen lakes. And when your daytime fun comes to a close, cozy up for the night at Apgar Lookout Retreat or find lodging in vibrant Columbia Falls. Your ultimate winter getaway awaits.
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 4, 2023
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